What do toffee and leashes have in common?

December 11, 2009 at 9:34 pm Leave a comment


I’ll be back after “farm chores” and coffee to offer my answer. Toss in your own, in the meantime.

Toffee, at right. Yummy!

Update: They’re both better when handmade.  But curiously: A good handcrafted leash will last near forever, while good homemade toffee disappears immediately.

So here’s my thing today: The economy sucks. A lot of people are hurting. And that means a a lot of people are struggling to feed their families, and that includes their pets.

But … I’m always astonished at how many people take a bad situation and will not accept it as inevitable or inescapable. They take stock and take action. And I think the rest of us should support them, when we can.

I was thinking about this subject before linking it to toffee, with regards to a woman named Valerie Alfinito, who I’ve known for many years.

Val started out teaching dog-training classes, but she was frustrated because she couldn’t find good leashes to recommend to her students. They were all coming in with cheap, mass-produced leashes that didn’t feel comfortable in  their hands, that cut into their palms and slipped through their fingers. So, she studied leather-craft, and started making her own.

I bump into Val pretty regularly at dog shows, and always stop by her booth to say hello. I kid her that her leashes are too nice, and that I have some that are 15 years old and not only look as good as the day I bought them but feel better in my hands as they’ve aged. Since I leave collars on my dogs when they leave me, the only time I ever buy collars from Val is when I first get a dog, which doesn’t happen that open.

Dr. Becker and I bought a collar and some leashes from Val lately, because of Dr. Oz. During one of Dr. Becker’s early appearances on the show as a core team member, Dr. Oz brought his own dog out on set.

Rosie is a lovely black Labrador, but I noticed Dr. Oz had a crappy chain leash on her. That just couldn’t be, so I suggested to Dr. Becker that we have Val make Rosie a collar and leash, and give them to Dr. Oz as a gift, along with one of Premier’s Easy Walk harnesses, since Dr. Oz had said Rosie was a handful to walk. I called Val, and she immediately started making the set.

They’re gorgeous, and I wish I had a picture of them but they look kind of like these at right.

Dr. Oz loved them, and Rosie now has a beautiful collar, a comfortable leash that will last forever, and a harness to help the family walk her. (By the way, Dr. Becker will be on “The Dr. Oz Show” on Monday, Dec. 14 — more on that later.)

I was thinking about how good it felt to help out a craftsperson who has always worked to support her own family as a single mother, who learned first one skill and then another, and never, ever stops trying.

And that brings me to toffee.

I was coming home from the Day Job yesterday when I noticed light in a previously empty storefront. The light caught my eye because sadly in Sacramento right now a vacant storefront is unremarkable, it’s so common. So I checked it out.

Inside I found a 21-day candy shop, a couple of friends and their families who’d taken some family recipes and some craft show experience and figured, what the heck, it’s the holidays!  The toffee was delicious, so I bought some. OK, the truth: I bought a lot.

A few months ago I asked people to give a shout-out to local, independent and honorable pet-supply  retailers in their area (honorable being:  Not offering retail space to move the “product “of puppy-milling scum). The big box chains full of cheap Chinese-made crap have made it difficult for small retailers — our friends and neighbors — to survive. I asked people to name these local, independent pet retailers, and to support them.

Now, I want to go one step further and give a shout-out to craftspeople who make pet-related equipment, art and gifts. Are you one of them? Do you know any? Have you bought from them,  either through a craftshow or Web site such as Etsy? Let us know! Blow your own horn!

Let’s share the information and support these people. Now more than ever, they can use our help.

(If you’re in Sacramento, the 21-day candy store — which also features homemade cake icing — is in the Lyon Center, Fair Oaks and Munroe, next to Miyagi restaurant.)


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What do toffee and leashes have in common? Are The Ancient Healing Ways Still Valid?

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