A Dog’s Guide to Pet Bakeries in Albuquerque and Santa Fe
By Joanna Manganaro Toto
Judy patiently awaiting a pup treat.
Being an arbiter of taste can be glorious. One sits on a proverbial throne doling out pronouncements on the worthiness of the thing they are judging. Ah, the power! Consider Robert Parker Jr., the wine connoisseur, whose taste buds helped to fuel the exponential growth of the billion-dollar industry, making and breaking countless vineyards in the process. But his power didn’t come without its pitfalls. Parker’s opinions eventually came into question, inspiring more than one take-down documentary film (the best of which is Mondovino) and illustrating the perils of becoming too prominent a tastemaker.
Now entering the cutthroat world of connoisseurship is an unlikely player. Her stats: eleven and a half years old, Australian-shepherd mix, rescued October 2018. Favorite activities: barking at neighbors, long walks, sleeping on forbidden furniture. Guilty pleasures: eating paper towels, used tissues, and cat poop. She is my dog, Judy.
Judy’s initial step in becoming a world-renowned tastemaker has been to test the offerings of the pet bakeries in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Her first stop was Pooch Pantry. This Santa Fe shop sells high-quality pet food and accessories and is the only locally owned store in the state where homemade dog treats are baked on the premises. Owner Daphne Wright was inspired to begin baking dog treats when she discovered that her beloved dog Bogie had diabetes at just four years old. Bogie needed treats that were healthy and that would help to stabilize his condition, so Wright began researching and experimenting, eventually settling on a handful of solid recipes.
Wright opened Pooch Pantry in 2009 with the mission of sharing those healthy treats with other dogs. She pays special attention to the ingredients: “There’s no salt, no sugar, no butter, no artificial coloring.” Also, she says, “Everything is all natural—organic pumpkin, organic peanut butter.” Her most popular treat is the Peanut Butter Bone with carrot and broccoli, which also happened to be Judy’s favorite Pooch Pantry offering. A close second was the Peanut Butter Cookie.
The next stop on Judy’s homemade treat tour was just a couple blocks away. Teca Tu is located in the DeVargas Mall in Santa Fe and features a range of upscale pet toys, accessories, and food. Their branded treats come in four flavors: chicken, cheese, peanut butter, and pineapple. Judy recommends the cheese variety. Small and large sizes make them suitable for dogs of all breeds.
Teca Tu’s branded treats are created by Leah Boetger of The Barker’s Bakery, headquartered in Jemez Springs. Boetger says, “Dogs bring so much love into our lives, so the more we can give back to them in thoughtful attention to their diets will not only enhance their lives but will enhance our lives, too. It’s really a two-way street.” Teca Tu’s owner, Laurie Wilson, is pleased with her partnership with Boetger. “It’s good to have locally made treats, and it’s good to support our local bakers,” Wilson says. “It also helps because we can have a better control on quality and ingredients.”
Charlie and Kathy Wendt of Tailwaggin’ Temptations, along with their impossibly large Bernese mountain dog, Winston, are a friendly fixture at the Downtown Growers Market and the Rail Yards Market in Albuquerque. Always thrilled to see their canine and human friends and happy to make new ones, the Wendts are rivaled only by the “Fresh tortillas!” guy in spreading smiles at the markets.
In 1992, Kathy Wendt began baking healthy treats for their golden retriever Ben, who had a sensitive stomach, which led to the birth of Tailwaggin’ Temptations. Over the years, the company has grown from producing one type of treat to around sixteen. The Wendts use honey and carrots from fellow vendors at the markets, in addition to other organic, high-quality ingredients.
Wendt says, “It’s important that you know what ingredients are in your dog’s treats, so we try to make sure it’s quality and local as much as we can, and we bake them with love.” Judy feels the love in Tailwaggin’ Temptations’ wheat-free peanut butter cookies and recommends getting to the market early to snag their popular pumpkin muffins.
Judy is reveling in her new role as an arbiter of taste, and, so far, the only pitfalls she has experienced are a few long, treat-induced naps.
Pooch Pantry, 301 N. Guadalupe, Santa Fe, poochpantry.com
Teca Tu, DeVargas Mall, Santa Fe, tecatu.com
Tailwaggin’ Temptations, tailwaggintemptations.com