Tastes like dog food
Kris and Justin Fuentes
Eating dog food has always been a faux pas, excused only by drunken bets or international food shortages. But that was before the dawn of gourmet dog food à la 3 Bad Dogs Catering. Owners Kris and Justin Fuentes of Citrus Heights went to culinary-arts school and had jobs in the human food-service industry before starting their healthy, gourmet pet-food line VibraPet. Then one night, after a couple of beers, the duo decided to try catering parties—dog parties. Now, dogs across the region are trading in their Kibbles ’n Bits for doggie daiquiris, peanut-butter cookies, Lady and the Tramp spaghetti dinners (with rye noodles) and tamales (a variation of a secret Fuentes family recipe). Kris is quick to encourage the dog-food-eating naysayer to take a nibble, explaining that it’s more like people food that is healthy for dogs. With that plan of attack, their food has encountered as many human taste buds as canine, including unknowing mother-in-laws and the occasional blazed Rastafarian. Check out their Web site at www.vibrapet.com.
How do people react to eating dog food?
It’s really interesting, because a lot of the women will try it, when we go places, as a dog food. I’ll bring it in in a soup bowl and just give everybody a spoon and say, “Here.” Men are a lot more cautious about eating it, and they can’t get past the stigma that it’s dog food.
What kind of food do you offer?
We have the tamales and the meatloaf. We do our holiday meals. We do a Christmas and Thanksgiving, and that’s like a traditional Thanksgiving meal, like with turkey, but it’s made for dogs so there’s no fat on it and things some of the dogs can’t have. At Easter we actually made Easter eggs out of cookies and decorated them to look like Easter eggs, and we did Easter egg baskets that people could buy and they could do their own Easter egg hunts.
What is the most unusual party you catered?
It’s not really unusual for us, because we’re around the industry. For people that think people are weird dog people, they’d probably think it was crazy. But the [Lady and the Tramp] pasta one was kind of interesting, just because the lady had dressed up all of her dogs. So if someone’s not a dog person, they’d probably find that really, really strange. But I thought it was really cool. But that was kind of interesting, when you walk in and see all these dogs that are all different sizes, completely dressed up in Valentine’s Day gowns, eating pasta.
Do you get a lot of people who think you’re crazy?
I got this nasty e-mail from this guy named Larry from Colorado and it said, “Easter is not a holiday for dogs. What are you doing dressing up your dog?” And he says, “You crazy dog people, I can’t believe that you do this kind of stuff.” And then he says, “I bet you’re one of those kinds of people that dresses your dog up like Halloween and takes your dog to sit on Santa Claus’ lap”… and I look up and I have two pictures in my study, like in my office, and one of them is [my dog] sitting on Santa Claus’ lap and the other one is we dressed him up like Napoleon Dynamite for Halloween; he has a wig on. So what I did was I printed that letter and I framed it and I have it up. Every time I start to think what we’re doing is normal, then I just read Larry’s letter.
Is there any cat or hamster food in the future?
My next thing that I really want to create is I really want to do sushi for cats. Wouldn’t that be cool? You know how you buy the sushi for yourself, like the little California rolls? What if you could buy yours and your cat’s? So I’ve really been pondering that one. And then the other one I want to make, too, is that I know a lot of people who have cats, they have a hard time taking pills. With dogs, you can put it in their food and they’ll swallow it, but cats can spit it out. So I’m developing a salmon shake that people could use and you could stick [the pills] in that.
One time there was a lady, and she came up to us at one of the dog events we were at and she’s like, “Oh, crap, I forgot to feed my mother-in-law,” and bought a bag of our food. So because it looks like a chicken soup, she said, “Oh, there’s roasted pepper in there.” And I was like OK, I’m not going to say anything, and we made a sale. So it is like a people food, and it is innovative.