Doggie Treat Truck quickly has a following


Paige Anderson, center, serves Chelsy Stover, left, and Jordanna Gasche frozen yogurt for Nahla from the Earth Pets Treat Truck at the Thornebrook Village Shopping Center on Thursday in Gainesville.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, May 23, 2014 at 5:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 23, 2014 at 5:25 p.m.

They can smell it coming. It’s big, blue, moves slowly and has bacon inside. When “Who Let the Dogs Out” starts blaring from the loudspeakers, dogs and the humans they’re leashed to know the Doggie Treat Truck has arrived.

The truck, a rolling smorgasbord of dog-friendly frozen yogurt, pastries, beer and three-foot-tall beef jerky sticks, made a two-hour stop Thursday at the Chop Stix Bistro on Northwest 43rd Street. The restaurant was hosting a benefit from the pet-sitting company Daytime Dogs and Friends, which was giving all donations to St. Francis Pet Care, a free veterinary service for low-income pet owners.

Paige Anderson, the truck’s full-time driver, opened the serving window, laid out her samples and waited for customers to come.

At first, the only inquiries she got were from curious bystanders asking “Do you only sell dog ice cream?” and “Can I take a picture of the truck?” But then Nahla trotted up panting with her owner in tow.

“Do you want a treat?” 23-year-old Gainesville resident Jordanna Gasche asked her shaggy, golden-haired companion. Nahla pressed her paws against the side of the truck and stared longingly at the palm-sized yogurt container, which concealed a cheesy, bacon-covered concoction.

Gasche bought a cup for Nahla and a bottle of Bowser Beer, a carbonated beef broth, for her male dog Nesta at home. Nahla quickly got to work licking her treat, pausing only to pant and get scratched behind her ears.

“That’s what I love to see,” said Anderson as she snapped a few pictures for the truck’s Facebook page.

Joy Drawdy, owner of Earth Pets of Gainesville pet store and the Doggie Treat Truck, said dogs can’t get enough of the yogurt they sell. It’s sugar-free, organic and has several helpful bacteria strains to ease dogs’ lactose intolerance, she said. Humans can eat it too, but it’s sold exclusively for their pets.

“If their humans are excited about it, the dogs think ‘It must be good,’ ” she said.

She used to buy the yogurt from Colorado-based dog-treat company The Bear and The Rat, which express-shipped its yogurt in refrigerated trucks, but now she makes her own with a personal ice-cream machine to cut down on shipping costs.

Drawdy, who always kept treats on her for pet owners who she met around Gainesville, decided to grow her friendliness into a business in summer 2013.

“It was just so fun that we got caught up in it,” she said. “Now we’re booked out months at a time and we’re getting sponsors coming to us with offers.”

Joy and her partner, Kat Drawdy, found an ad for a 1979 Good Humor ice cream truck in Melbourne. They purchased the truck off an ice-cream man turned surfer for $4,000 and towed it back to Gainesville.

The truck’s engine turned over with ease, but everything else needed overhauling. Joy took money out of her retirement savings and Kat sold her BMW to help pay for the fixes.

Two months and $20,000 in renovations later, the treat truck was ready to make its rounds. Joy hired her longtime friend Anderson, who has a history in theater performances, to drive the truck full time.

Now, the team has a full calendar of events and sponsors asking to put their names on the truck. Drawdy said she’ll keep making her own yogurt throughout this summer, but the truck’s future is still unknown.

“We just went crazy and said ‘We’ll see what happens,’” she said. “I’m not sure what’s next.”

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