Smriti Pratishruti owes her late dog, Princess, a lot.
The golden retriever inspired Pratishruti and her husband, Karthick Raja Kattapomman, to start PawzNDogz - an Acton-based pet supply business specializing in helping our furry friends live their best life.
Despite dying last December, Princess' inspiration still keeps on giving. PawzNDogz is now a "plastic negative" business - an honour they achieved by partnering with rePurpose Global, an organization working to remove plastic from the environment.
"Which means that for every product sold, we pulled out two pieces of plastic from the oceans and nature," explained Pratishruti.
Their products themselves - available locally online and in some Georgetown stores - are also sustainable. When they arrive in stores across 10 countries, including the U.S., Germany, France and Taiwan, just to name a few, they are not packaged in plastic or cardboard - only a recyclable hanging tag is included.
"They hang [in-store] in all their glory because there is nothing much to hide. And because we understand packaging just ends up as consumer waste at the end," she said.
The business couple is, however, not resting on their laurels just yet. One of their long-term goals is to work towards an upcycling capability. In essence, this means taking their old products and finding a new purpose for them.
"I think before discussing that goal, we would like to become a household name first," Pratishruti said.
Among the products they hope to become a household name with is their line of pet travel gear and toys called snuffle mats. These are mats that have strategically placed, pet-safe fabric strips on them, creating something resembling tall grass. Pet parents can hide food among those, forcing a dog, cat or ferret (any kind of pet) to navigate the strips to find their food. It teaches the pets smell sense development, problem solving and dexterity.
The inspiration came to the owners from, who else? Princess.
"Whatever we know about dogs, in general, is what she has taught us," Pratishruti said.
Because the couple also loves human puzzles like crosswords and Sudoku, they thought about the well-being needs of dogs and combined it with play and problem solving.
"Why not the same for dogs? Because dogs, when they were in the wild, they used to work for their food. But now, with domestication, they do not have that working for food factor anymore because they are served everything in a bowl," she said.
Princess also brought the family to Acton. After moving to Canada from India, where Pratishruti worked in the corporate world, they lived in Brampton for some time. But Princess and her needs were always on their mind.
Pratishruti remembers a "headstrong" dog who was a "sass queen" with "loads of attitude." The needs of such a canine were demanding, to say the least.
"We selected a detached house with a big yard so that our Princess could run. So I think she was the biggest decision for staying in Acton," she said.
For further details on PawzNDogz and which stores carry its products, visit https://pawzndogz.ca/.