The story of Austin and Kat began in 2014 when Brady, my 14-year -old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, was starting to hit the bumpy part of aging. He still had his spirit, but he was starting to need a little help getting up in the morning; he creaked, moved slowly and on some days he just didn’t get up. I was trying different nutritional supplements to help keep him active and happy but I kept coming across articles that had a common theme: recent innovation and research in an extract of HEMP called CannaBiDiol (CBD). CBD was proving to have significant benefits for dogs, especially aging ones. So, on our next visit to the vet I asked about it and was surprised when he didn’t reject it outright. He’d been hearing more and more about interesting developments so I decided to dig deeper and see what I could do to help Brady.
Making version 1, 2 and 3……After reading everything I could about the science of CBD and what was going on, I tracked down a source and set about trying to make a treat. Version 1 turned out harder than the average walnut and probably didn’t win on taste, but an hour after his first biscuit, Brady was walking about like he used to as a younger dog. The next day I witnessed a similar effect which really surprised me…I just didn’t expect such a dramatic change.
Batch after batch, I continued to improve the recipe. I learned more about CBD, where to get the best source and how to use in the recipe. Most importantly – I started to understand the right amount to use for the best effect. And so began the task of making biscuits I would buy. Biscuits that were made well, blended from great ingredients, independently tested to the highest industry standards and give positive results. There were many biscuits burnt, long nights on the computer and a lot of trial and error.
My small kitchen became a hive of activity but it smelled delicious as different batches of biscuits cooled. Friends popped over to grab some for their dogs and before long I couldn’t walk thru town without someone stopping me, wanting some for their dog.
Brady and Austin……As the weeks passed Brady enjoyed life. He was a lot more active though he moved in a slower and more measured way, but occasionally I saw the puppy in him again. He was much more likely to regain his curiousness about something, to be more affectionate to me and even playful.
Austin, my 1 year old puppy couldn’t have been more different. He was in great shape and had no issues getting up…a ball of energy from 5:30am his energy ranged from full-on to exhausting! At some point I let him try a biscuit and I was just blown away by how much he seemed to chill out and relax.
So began a nice few months of walks…Brady was happy to get out with Austin happy to trot along, still a puppy but less crazy. I got to spend brilliant time with them both and they enjoyed each other’s company. I couldn’t hold off the sands of time and one day Brady left us. Obviously, it was sad beyond words but I was grateful having been able to spend so much active time with him. It wasn’t that his life had been extended, but that his enjoyment and quality of life was much higher.
And so we became Austin & Kat…..Word of my biscuits continued to spread. I received feedback from friends – I loved hearing how the treats were making a positive difference and after some encouragement decided to take a leap of faith. I enlisted the help of some awesome friends and began the pleasure and pain of starting the company (looking back I had no idea how hard it was going to be)!
Since Austin would sit patiently, waiting for me to finish yet another batch and since he’s been chief product tester it seemed only natural to put his name on there too.
So fast forward to 2017, Austin and Kat is growing by leaps and bounds and everyday is a new challenge. In January, we relocated to the Pacific Northwest, Seattle, specifically. The hub of the cannabis culture is here and the open mindedness of everyone is refreshing. I’ve been fortunate to share the story of Austin and Kat with so many different types of people and different breeds of dogs. I never anticipated the sheer amount of intense work creating this type of startup would be, but the rewards are worth every moment.
I’m very lucky in that I create special bonds with some of my customers as they navigate the future with a pet that might be struggling with anxiety or pain management. There are times when I become intimately involved in how to treat their pet as we create a plan to help them using our holistic biscuits. It’s not always perfect, but when things go right I’m on the receiving end of emails like this….
Hi Kat: Thanks so very much for the many phones calls to help Belle. The treats (we call them her “peace treats”) have really helped to calm Belle’s anxieties. She has been doing well at our vet’s every day where they monitor her while we are at work. Our evenings are much more relaxed because she is not constantly pacing around the house, and we’re only getting up once per night instead of as much as three or four times per night. I only wish the treats could turn back time and make her young and vibrant again!
She dropped another two or three pounds this week and is now down to 56.1 pounds. We’ve been noticing that she’s having less mobility issues when we go on our daily short walks. We are so happy she wants to join us again on those nightly trips. Her attitude is still great and we count each day we have with her as a blessing. I’m thankful Jon and Misty turned me onto the peace treats. If nothing else, we can make sure she is calm and relaxed as she prepares to leave us instead of being anxious and stressed.
Thank you for checking in with me,
Hi Kat…….On the recommendation of a friend who gets your biscuits, I purchased some for Sandy, my almost 14 year old Lab with bad hips.
They’ve been remarkable for her and have really helped her mood as well as her pain! She is 74 lbs so I give her as much as 1.5 biscuits twice a day. She sleeps more soundly, is more relaxed generally, and even wags her tail (she hadn’t wagged her tail in a long time)!!
Dr. Schaeffer at Sagamore Animal Hospital recommended them to a us. When Sandy went for her annual spring Lyme/Heartworm test last week, we asked Dr. Schaeffer (thru the vet tech) if Sandy would build up a tolerance to the biscuits. He said if she does, it is better for her to build a tolerance to the biscuits than to regular meds.
We are happy campers with your biscuits, Kat!!
Marcia and Sandy
For more information about Austin and Kat, please visit austinandkat.com.
With over 15 years as an athlete and business leader in in the endurance sports industry, Kat Donatello, founder of Austin and Kat, set out in 2014 to create an holistic and all natural product that would help her dogs with their health, well being and various ailments. What started as project in her home kitchen in Maine, experimenting with various recipes and CBD oils to create a wellness dog biscuit for her pets, quickly blossomed into a small business that was helping not only her animals, but those of friends, and quickly the public.
Fast forward to October 2016, Austin and Kat launched nationally online and in select veterinary clinics and retail locations. The company has continued to expand to many other channels throughout the country in 2017 with the addition of commercial baking facility in her new hometown of Seattle.
As a single mother of two daughters, Kat’s maintains balance in her busy life with her love of sport and physical activity, while still pushing the limits of a startup in the cannabis industry.