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New Three Dog Bakery raises the woof on canine cakes and cookies

When a visitor dropped by the new West Fargo store, recently, that world had really gone to the dogs. A tiny Yorkie in a sweater sniffed every treat at ankle level. A Shih Tzu named Oliver eagerly stood on his back legs to beg for a yummy-smelling biscuit. "Dogs are always welcome," says co-owner Megan Pechin Bergseth. "That's why we have treats in our pockets."

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Megan Pechin Bergseth (left) and Kelsey Ysteboe talked often of opening their own business until Pechin Bergseth decided they could open a dog bakery. Their third partner is Kristen Burbank.
Tammy Swift / Forum Communications Co.
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WEST FARGO — The new Three Dog Bakery is a “yes, you can!” kind of place.

Yes, your dog can have that chocolate-dipped biscuit — because the chocolate is actually carob.

Yes, your furbuddies can come in the store. How else will they try out all the treat samples if they're kept in the car?

And yes, their layer cakes and frosted cookies look good enough for owners to eat. “We frost just like a real cake, we use frosting tips, we roll in coconut, it’s just like you do at home,” says Kelsey Ysteboe, one of the shop’s three owners and the official treat baker. “It’s very similar to what a regular baker does.”

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Three Dog Bakery treats look good enough for humans to eat, but are formulated with canine constitutions in mind.
By Tammy Swift / Forum Communications Co.

But these luscious-looking goodies are formulated with canine constitutions in mind, says Megan Pechin Bergseth, another co-owner. Carob replaces chocolate in the brownies; sweetness comes from honey, molasses or applesauce, and foods like cranberries, peanut butter and carrots add moisture and flavor. There’s even doggie ice cream — actually made from a tummy-friendly whey protein base.

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“It’s all human-quality ingredients,” says Pechin Bergseth, adding that these foods aren't run through the FDA, so it's best to reserve them for Rover.

When a visitor dropped by the new store at 465 32nd Ave. E., West Fargo, recently, that world had really gone to the dogs.

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A Yorkie named Mini decides to check out whatever his nose can reach.
By Tammy Swift / Forum Communications Co.

A tiny Yorkie in a sweater sniffed every treat at ankle level. A Shih Tzu named Oliver eagerly stood on his back legs to beg for a yummy-smelling biscuit. Pechin Bergseth said they will also bring in their own pooches as "shop dogs," whether that means welcoming other dogs or helping with janitorial duties by licking spilled frosting off the floor.

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Seepal Amedy found her shih tzu, Oliver, was so excited about his treat that he was willing to do anything from sit patiently to stand on his back legs.
By Tammy Swift / Forum Communications Co.

"Dogs are always welcome," Pechin Bergseth said. "That's why we have treats in our pockets."

'Wagging' war on allergies

And don’t worry if your Affenpinscher has allergies: There are also wheat-free, grain-free and allergen-free versions of some treats.
In fact, the original Three Dog Bakery actually started in Missouri in 1989 when dog owners Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff realized their albino Great Dane puppy, Gracie, couldn't tolerate commercial or veterinary foods.

They started researching and cooking for Gracie. Before long, Gracie was thriving and Dye and Beckloff had used what they’d learned about canine nutrition by opening a bakery for dogs.

Although Dye and Beckloff sold the business in 2014, Three Dog Bakery has remained a top dog in the pet-bakery market. Megan Pechin Bergseth, another one of the local franchise’s owners, says there are 45 such bakeries across the globe. Some of Three Dog's biscuits also are mass produced in the U.S. and sold in stores like Target.

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A sample of the elaborately decorated cut-out cookies at Three Dog Bakery.
By Tammy Swift / Forum Communications Co.

It was Pechin Bergseth’s familiarity with the Three Dog brand that prompted her to explore opening a bakery locally.

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A native of Kansas, Pechin Bergseth moved to the Fargo area after meeting and marrying Ryan Bergseth of Bergseth Brothers in Fargo. After relocating here, she became friends with Ysteboe and they had "been noodling around" on ideas for business ventures, including dreams of a food truck.

As Pechin Bergseth is also a studio manager/fitness instructor at Mojo Fit Studio , she brought Kristen Burbank, Mojo owner, into the conversation.

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Three Dog Bakery also sells dog food, dog treats and pooch apparel.
By Tammy Swift / Forum Communications Co.

All three are devoted dog owners and are well aware of the ever-growing pet industry. So Pechin Bergseth launched into her pitch: “Let’s do a bakery … but for dogs.”

“I’m listening,” Burbank said.

They spent the past year and a half finding a space, working with Three Dog’s main pastry chef and other company consultants in Kansas City and learning all the ins and outs of launching a pet bakery.

Chews for the choosiest Chow Chow

The last few years have been good for the pet industry. According to Petpedia, 21% of pet owners spent more money on pets during the pandemic and the U.S. pet industry reached $99 billion in 2020. Pet owners spend most on food and treats — $36.9 billion.

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An employee holds Ozzy, the shop dog, so he can greet one of the canine shoppers.
By Tammy Swift / Forum Communications Co.

The three partners also had the ideal blend of skill sets for launching a business. Burbank and Pechin Bergseth have backgrounds in marketing and business management; Ysteboe is an accountant who likes to bake.

Along the way, they discovered some talented folks in their own circle of friends. One day, Pechin Bergseth's friend Andrea Coombs came over to help her with displays and merchandising. Pechin Bergseth asked Coombs if she would like to try her hand at decorating dog goodies.

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Coombs picked it up so quickly that Pechin Bergseth hired her on the spot.

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Megan Pechin Bergseth jokes that her friend Andrea Coombs was hired as cake decorator after submitting an "interview" that consisted of this melting snowman cake.

Pechin Bergseth says owners can special-order decorated cakes for their furbuddies’ special occasions, or they can come in, pick one out of the glass display case and have it personalized.

In addition to cakes, there are smaller treats for toy-sized appetites — like frosting-covered sandwich cookies and cannolis (canine-olis?) of a “whipped cream” filling stuffed inside vanilla pizzelles.

Three Dog also sells higher-end, single-source dog foods, domestically sewn dog collars, dog toys and teensy Bison sweatshirts.

They do sell rawhide, but with a difference. Most rawhide sold today comes from overseas, so is loaded with preservatives to make it last longer. By the time an owner purchases it, it can be very hard and difficult to digest.

Three Dog purchases its high-quality rawhide from a domestic source, so the chews are fresher, softer, additive-free and easier to digest, Pechin Bergseth says. They also sell non-rawhide alternatives for owners who prefer that.

“The chews are popular,” Ysteboe says, grinning. “My dog slept with his peanut butter chew, so that was a definite win.”

Hours are 10 am to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Learn more about Three Dog Bakery at www.facebook.com/ThreeDogBakeryFargo

Tammy has been a storyteller most of her life. Before she learned the alphabet, she told stories by drawing pictures and then dictated the narrative to her ever-patient mother. A graduate of North Dakota State University, she has worked as a Dickinson, N.D., bureau reporter, a Bismarck Tribune feature writer/columnist, a Forum feature reporter, columnist and editor, a writer in NDSU's Publications Services, a marketing/social media specialist, an education associate in public broadcasting and a communications specialist at a nonprofit.
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