Fair trade dog toys

How a drinks coaster became the starting point for a pet company that offers fair trade dog toys.

“Early last year, at age 51, I sensed the proverbial desire to ‘make a difference’ with my life,” says Mary Wolff. “I knew I wanted to use my creativity and compassion for ‘all things living’ to do something that truly mattered. The only question was how? The answer came from a torn-up, ratty-looking drink coaster.”

Mary’s two Yorkshire terriers, Willie and Sophie, owned just about every dog toy imaginable, but she noticed they quickly lost interest in them. “One day, I happened to throw a fabric drink coaster across the room, and the response from both of them was clear: play time! This drink coaster fetch game became a daily ritual.” The only problem was that Willie and Sophie soon destroyed the coasters. “I thought, maybe I can design a similar version with safer, more durable and natural materials.” Mary used hemp to make the new toy, and named it the Eco-Fetcher. It was a hit not only with Willie and Sophie, but with other dogs as well. Mary found that the hemp stood up to even the most vigorous play and chewing, even from 130-pound dogs.

“The requests from people for safe, quality made, truly natural dog and cat toys was overwhelming,” says Mary. Within just three months, she’d added four more toys to the line. Before she knew it, she had her own company. “I now know that starting Honest Pet Products was the answer to that life-changing question: how do I make a difference?”

Honest Pet Products offers a selection of natural hemp or 100% wool toys for dogs and cats, in a variety of sizes. Along with safety and durability, Mary also factors the environment and fair trade into her business. In fact, one of the company’s principles is to be “True to our Planet”. “It means our materials are used in their most truly natural form to promote sustainability and carbon footprint reduction,” she explains.

The business is also “True to our People”. “We employ people with cognitive and developmental disabilities to make our hemp and wool toys, and give them emotional encouragement as well as economic support. Our wool cat toys are handmade in Mongolia by women from impoverished, nomadic herding families without many basic needs. Through the Snow Leopard Trust’s Fair Trade cooperative, these families earn a living with their traditional wool-working skills. In exchange, herders are protecting the endangered snow leopards that share their habitats. In fact, our pledge to be ‘True to Our People’ has been our most important commitment, ongoing inspiration and deepest reward.”

Although Honest Pet Products currently offers only hemp and wool toys, Mary is developing many other natural, durable toys and accessories to add to her product line. “This is just the beginning,” she says. “We simply use the quality gifts that nature has to offer to heal the planet and provide us all with safer lives.”