Lizzie Dupnik has gone from living through the dog days of drawing flyers for imaginary pet care services as a six-year-old to being a full-fledged multi-business owner at age 25.
“I was always the kid picking up stray kittens and bringing them home, so that was just something that I love,” Lizzie said. “I wanted to do something career-related that I loved and I had a passion for.”
Shaggy Wags Pet Care is Lizzie’s three-year-old pet walking and sitting business but some folks recognize her as someone who offers a sweeter service.
Shaggy Waggin Treats is a one-woman doggie ice cream business. Dupnik is hard to miss when she wheels her hot pink tricycle that pushes her portable freezer on hot summer days. The side of the freezer reads “Shaggy Waggin Treats” circled around a painted face of a golden retriever licking a bright green ice cream cone.
“I watch Shark Tank and I saw that they were doing doggie ice cream,” said the Port Aransas native. “I figured that would be perfect for Austin with how hot it gets and how dog-friendly it is.”
In addition to five flavors of ice cream, Lizzie offers four flavors of pupsicles and five flavors of ice cream pupwiches. The most popular flavor among pup owners is a combination of peanut butter, bacon and pumpkin that even she says she finds delicious.
“We are very impressed with the ingredient panel in the ice cream,” said Jon Michelson, owner of Lofty Dog, a pet business that carries Shaggy Waggin ice cream. “Lizzie uses limited, high grade ingredients that we all know and understand. That simple list is very important to most pet lovers in this market.”
Lizzie offers low-fat, paleo, vegan and gluten-free among other indulgent options and educates herself on what human-grade ingredients are best for her furry little customers.
“I pretty much immerse myself in any kind of book or online information,” she said. “You can find pretty much anything on the Internet and there’s lots of good knowledgeable sources.”
Her retailers also recognize the value of the niche doggie ice cream market. Lizzie distributes pint-sized options available for $13 at Lofty Dog, Healthy Pet, Bow Wow Bones Food Truck, Sit Means Sit, DogHouse Drinkery and Great OutDogs. Even restaurant and bar chain Opal’s Divine will soon begin carrying her products in all of their locations.
“Just like we all get cravings for ice cream or sweets, dogs need to have a healthy alternative to share the experience,” said Great OutDogs owner Matt Edwards. “Once they get a taste, they will remember the container that delicious taste came from and will get just as excited as the first time they had it.”
While Shaggy Waggin Treats does well to rely on pet product retailers, it’s the combination between that and selling at city events that sustains the business.
Lizzie scours the Internet for both dog and ice cream events to attend, such as the annual Austin Ice Cream Festival or corgi meet ups organized by the Austin Corgi Pet Lovers. On average, she attends an event every one to two weeks.
At the end of the day, Lizzie donates a portion of each sell she makes to Austin Dog Rescue. She also advertises a foster dog on her tricycle every time she goes out to find it, what she calls, a “furever” home.
“Dogs are the reason why I make a living. That’s why I started doing this business,” Lizzie said. “I help save foster dogs when I can. I try to bring them out to events. If I have one that’s dog friendly just so it can try to get adopted and that’s a big part of my life as well.”