Everything has a backstory or source of inspiration. Soaps are no exception. The most notable backstory belongs to our dog shampoo bar - Mrs. Pretty's Pretty Bar. This is the story of how our Aussie inspires us to create the best all-natural soap for our canine friends and yours.
While on Thanksgiving vacation in Vermont in 2008, we put our 14 year old border collie, Dakota to sleep after a 3 year struggle with spinal cancer. His journey to the rainbow bridge started at a country vet on a winding country road, over a cover bridge on a snowy afternoon. It was an idyllic place to say goodbye to one of the most regal and loyal dogs we have ever known. We received a lot of support and advice after our loss. Friends encouraged us to get another dog as soon as possible. We scoured newspaper ads, websites, and border collie rescues, but we were not successful in finding the dog (and breeder) who felt they had also found us.
On December 14th -- five years ago today -- our lives changed forever. We came across the website of an Australian shepherd breeder. My parents owned an Aussie, so I knew they shared characteristics with border collies: good herders, athletic and loyal. We filled out the online application and heard from Patti almost immediately. We were happy to be chosen as candidates to adopt one of her “babies,” Later, we were at her house viewing adorable little balls of fur that were playing in an exercise pen. Remembering a playful Aussie named Merlin we met on the Dartmouth College Green the previous summer, we were immediately drawn to two baby blue merles.
There was a female who had a blue eye and a brown eye, and a male that had two blue eyes. Patti was keeping the male for herself. When I picked up and held the female, she was fully of love and puppy kisses. When I put her back in the pen, she gave me a look as if it say, “hey, why did you put me back?”
She had me at hello, which in dog language is a tongue up your nostril. She chose me, I chose her. She owned us from that point forward.
On the way home, we were struggling to come up with name for her. She was very sweet, but the patches around her eyes were clearly masking something very mischievous. She reminded me of the Babyface Finster character from the cartoon, Baby Buggy Bunny. But she needed a female name, and the first name that came to mind when looking at her steel blue fur was Stella. Thus her name would be Stella “Babyface” Finster.
Stella’s unusual markings attracted people to her when we went for walks around town. People would comment about how pretty she was, and some even asked to take her picture. After a several of these encounters, we jokingly started calling her “Mrs. Pretty”
In the summer of 2010, we decided to turn soapmaking into a business. As lifelong dog owners we have always dreaded bathing our dogs. Getting them in the tub was the least of our worries. The problem was washing them with shampoo that never seemed to rinse out of their fur. The residue would stick and cause them to itch.
A healthy coat is as important to dogs as healthy skin is to humans. I would not bathe my dog in anything that I would not bathe in myself. The main ingredients in most commercial pet shampoos and soaps -- even the supposed natural and organic ones -- are foaming agents and
As an active Aussie pup (and as a 5 year old), Stella’s favorite pastimes are digging, rolling in decaying organisms and lounging on the sofa -- in that order. Mrs. Pretty needs lots of baths So, we set out to develop a natural soap that would keep her coat soft and shiny, wash out on the first rinse and retain her skin’s moisture in her skin.
Mrs. Pretty’s Pretty Bar is an all-natural, detergent-free dog shampoo made with fresh goat milk we source from local farms, olive oil, coconut oil, organic palm oil, almond oil, castor oil and shea butter. This is same mixture of oils we use in our “human” soap but we adjust the proportions to benefit a dog’s coat. We add essential oils of lemon tea tree, lavender, and rosemary for their therapeutic properties. Lemon tea tree oil and ground oatmeal helps soothe dry, itchy skin. Rosemary and lavender essential oils are good skin tonics, and all three essential oils are natural insect repellents.
Our group of human subjects thoroughly tested Mrs. Pretty’s Bar, Four out of 5 humans want a bar for themselves. The 5th human is a cat person. Lemon tea tree and rosemary essential oils are toxic to cats, so Mrs. Pretty’s Pretty Bar should not be used to bathe the feline member of your household.
The best thing about using Mrs. Pretty’s Pretty Bar is the rich, gentle lather that washes away on the first rinse without leaving skin-irritating residue. Commercial pet shampoos -- even the natural ones -- are impossible to get out of our dogs' fur. Like Stella, many dogs generally dislike getting bathed, and their agony was only prolonged by the constant rinsing. Bath times are now shorter and more pleasant making Mrs. Pretty -- and her humans -- pretty happy.