For 15 years, Brookside Barkery & Bath owner Delena Stout has been helping pets and owners make better homes together. At its onset, the store gave owners of larger dogs an easy way to bathe their pets and offered healthier food options. It has grown to include regular efforts to aid nonprofits that help keep pets in their homes.
Stout says the store’s next big thing is products containing CDB, or cannabidiol, an extract from the cannabis plant. It is a continuation of what she says is a mission that started with trying to help her own pets.
Q: What do you think people fail to consider before bringing a dog into their home?
A: Maintenance. Look online. Figure out how much care your dog will need before you get it. Some dogs, like doodles, require a lot of care and people don’t realize it.
Also, I think most people don’t realize that there are different life stages in our pets’ lives. You have your puppy stage, the adolescence and then the senior years. Each stage of your pet’s life requires a different type of nutrition and care.
Consider your own level of activity. Sometimes we have people who come in here who are clearly partnered with the wrong dog.
If they just want company, we might suggest an adult dog instead of a puppy. That way it is potty-trained, and you can take it for a walk, but it’s not real active. We always encourage people who want to run with a dog to find a real active dog, like a border collie.
Q: How can the food I feed my dog make a difference in its at-home behavior?
A: Allergies are pretty common in pets. They can have both food allergies and environmental allergies.
We have a wellness assessment kit that the owners can do themselves that can help eliminate the guesswork. So we can help you see what kind of food your pet might be sensitive to. Sometimes the environment and energy are causing them to have an imbalance. We try to work with that information to build a well-balanced diet and maybe add supplements for the pet.
Q: You said environment makes a difference. Tell me more about that.
A: Well, an owner might tell us that their dog is experiencing some kind of anxiety or emotional disorder or they are upset with their person leaving when they weren’t in the past.
We also work with the person. The energy of the person can affect the pet. The pet is often unsure of how to deal with emotional imbalances with their person. We try to work with the owners to not show as much emotion in front of the pet.
What we do really well here is listen to where the pet is. We ask really good questions. What kind of pet do you have? How old is the dog and what kind of problems are you seeing? That way this is kind of a road map of where to steer them. We have a lot of people who cry and hug us, because people didn’t realize their pet was picking up what was going on with them.
Q: How do you think CBD products can help?
A: We are one of the few shops that offer CBD for pets and people. My dog has cancer and passed away. During that, I learned so much about cancer and how the CBD works with animals. It is legal because it is industrial hemp and that was passed with the Farm Bill in 2014.
A lot of people who have anxiety disorders can also be helped by CBD. It is industrial hemp, so it’s less than 3 percent THC. So no one is going to get high off it. It is something you can have and give a little bit of to your pet.
We have beef and cheese for the dogs. For the humans, we have flavors like pina colada. We will sell infused coffee and infused tea, caramels and other things for people. That way, we know we have the people calm. That will help the dog also calm down, and those behaviors will go away.
Q: Do you always try to stay on the front end of pet care?
A: We’re always usually the first one to take up things. I like to take risks. I know if something works with an animal, I want to let other people know. That’s why we opened the store.
Fifteen years ago, we didn’t have 100 pet food stores like this. I couldn’t find the products I needed to help my dog. I do a lot of research. I want to learn. When I realized that I was causing my dogs issue by giving them the wrong food and not giving them the right supplements, I wanted to tell everyone about it. I saw this open space in Brookside and decided this is what I wanted to do.
Q: How have you grown since then?
A: I opened in 2003. The original store was 600 square feet of retail and a bath area. The vision was to provide high quality food and also to provide an area where people could come with their dogs and do their own baths.
I just had this vision of enjoying the bath with the big dog. The places around here weren’t clean, and they didn’t offer any places where big dogs could be bathed. It was just very inconvenient. I was inconvenienced. I thought if I’m inconvenienced, I bet other people are too.
Within five years we expanded and expanded our product line, and then three years ago we expanded our grooming. The groomers can help identify conditions with the dogs.
We ask the owner what they are feeding, because if the dog has a chronic condition it may be the food they are putting into the dog. We work with them and they see a big difference. This is a quality-of-life issue not only for the pet but also for the pet owners because sometimes these behavioral issues can be corrected instead of giving the dog up for adoption.
Q: Why do you give back to animal rescues and shelters?
A: The big thing that I really pride myself on is the community involvement that we do with the shelters and the rescues. There are so many animals that need help. I put it in my business plan.
Chain of Hope is our biggest because they are the smallest … they go to the inner cities, and they are in the trenches providing services to those families who can’t provide for an animal but are still wanting an animal.
Where to find them
Brookside Barkery & Bath has two locations: 118 W. 63rd St. in Brookside, and 817 N.E. Woods Chapel Road in Lee’s Summit. For more information, including hours, go to barkerybath.com.