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No Bones About It: The SAILOR Dog Treat Program is a Hit

It’s official. The SAILOR program at Hendrick Hudson High School has gone to the dogs.

For the second year in a row, the program for students with special needs has run a homemade dog treat business. Since launching the business in the fall of 2018, the students have made and sold hundreds of bags of treats to district staff. According to teacher Christina Feal, sales have doubled since last year and show no sign of slowing down.

The idea for the business is simple: the students bake, package and sell seasonally- and holiday-themed treats to district staff four times per school year. But running an actual business is not simple at all, requiring a wide range of skills, both social and academic. The SAILOR students have proven they’ve got what it takes.

The students named the business “Dogs Can Just Enjoy,” and they handle every aspect of operations, from researching recipes, purchasing ingredients and baking the treats to processing orders, managing inventory and handling delivery.

“Before creating the business, the class considered what they could manage that wouldn’t interfere with school,” said Feal. “They also wanted to come up with something that was sustainable and could be expandable.” Feal’s dog Ramona, who is also the SAILOR program’s therapy dog, provided inspiration for the business and continues to serve as an enthusiastic taste tester.

Everyone in the SAILOR program is involved in the enterprise in some manner. Jolie said that her favorite part of the process is making and baking the treats, as well as bagging and delivering them. Her classmate Emma said she liked rolling out the dough and cutting it into shapes, like bones or pumpkins.

The treats have a simple ingredient list: pumpkin, eggs, flour, peanut butter, cinnamon and salt, and, so far, staff feedback has been extremely positive. High school science teacher Alan Zollner said his Bichon/Lhasa Apso mix Peppy “just loves the SAILOR treats.” Communications Specialist Karen Hoffman said her Bassett mix Bruno “inhaled his first bag.”

For now, the treats are offered four times a year, around Halloween, the winter holidays, Valentines Day and in the spring.  The students advertise upcoming sales via email and flyers and process orders using Google Forms.  Revenue goes back into the business for inventory and also funds community-based experiences for the students.

Feal believes that the business is helping her students gain important life and academic skills. “Counting out treats for each package helps with math skills and interacting with customers strengthens their social skills,” she explained. “The business also gives them a sense of pride and independence, as well as a meaningful way to give back to their school community.”

It seems clear that when they came up with their idea for a sustainable business, the SAILOR students were barking up the right tree.

SAILOR Students Prepare Dog Treats