A beloved Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog with inquisitive amber eyes and a finicky palate has inspired the central city’s newest specialty pet store.
Caitlyn Shortt, 25, and 26-year-old MDavid Low opened Nerdy Dogs April 7 on the first floor of their live-work loft at 1118 19th St. in Midtown. The store offers food, treats, eco-conscious toys and other products for dogs and cats.
Shortt and Low have lived in Sacramento for just a year, after Low got a job as a senior producer at the digital ad agency BKWLD ("Buck Wild"). They met in Hood River, Ore., where they grew up.
The dog who motivated them to open the business was a rescue adopted from the Portland Humane Society. At the time, he was named "Pedro." Low and Shortt thought the 9-week-old puppy was too sweet for that name. They changed the name to Churro – which is also the name for a fried-dough pastry popular in Latin America.
"He’s our little Mexican dessert," Shortt said.
The store’s specialty is a line of homemade, organic dog treats developed for Churro.
Now almost 4 years old, Churro has always been particular about food. Outside the home, he was always polite enough to accept treats he was offered. He’d take the food in his mouth, then turn his head and quietly spit it out, she said.
"Churro’s a really picky, picky dog," Shortt said. "I spent a lot of time looking for treats he would like. Finally, I started making them."
Shortt and Low began selling dog treats made in their own kitchen with minimal ingredients on etsy.com in August and at the Midtown Bazaar in Sacramento in September.
Flavors include chicken liver, beef liver, peanut butter, and peanut butter-and-pumpkin. Some shapes are based on 1980s arcade games like Super Mario, and some treats are topped with yogurt-based frosting.
Research indicated no one was operating a pet store in Midtown or downtown Sacramento. So the couple decided to open one themselves after a space opened in the 1801 L building developed by Sotiris Kolokotronis.
The store also carries pet food from Orijen and California Natural and environmentally friendly products, which range from biodegradable poop bags and bamboo ball tossers with recycled rubber balls to beds, leashes and bowls for dogs and cats. Cat treats will also be organic, but they won’t be made by Shortt.
A former swimming coach, Shortt will staff the shop full-time with help from Churro. She’ll also oversee the store’s Facebook page and website. Store hours are 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. weekdays and Second Saturdays, and 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on other Saturdays.
The couple said they chose the name Nerdy Dogs for the store because all three of them are nerds. They tease Churro for sitting with hind legs splayed, and the three of them like to watch the nighttime TV shows "Bones" and "Stargate Universe" in their apartment upstairs after the shop closes.
"That’ll land some nerd points," Low said.
Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt.