HUNTERSVILLE – To many dog owners, their furry companions are just like family members. Heather McLean, owner of Yappy Hour Bakery, relates to this wholeheartedly.

McLean loves animals and cooking, so when the inspiration to combine her two passions transpired, she took the idea and ran with it.

It started out with treats for her dogs and her co-workers’ pets, and has since grown into a reputable, gourmet dog treat company. 

McLean attended the University of South Carolina with a dream of owning a football team. She received a degree in sports marketing, but after realizing that it did not bring her joy, she was determined to settle on a career path that would.

After considering veterinary science, McLean decided on another option that would fulfill her desire to work with animals. She stumbled upon the opportunity to sell her dog treats at a local bakery and noticed that the hobby could quickly develop into a substantial source of revenue.

After discarding the original name, “Boo Boo’s Biscuits” (named after her Bichon, Ivan), she rebranded it “Yappy Hour,” after an event she enjoyed in Indianapolis.

Since its establishment in January 2012, Yappy Hour Bakery sells dog treats that have no salt, sugar or preservatives. In fact, the treats are made entirely from “people food.”

All of the treats are prepared at home, without any frozen ingredients.

She makes special-order treats, with common customizations being vegan, grain-free and baked-in certain shapes and sizes. She sells various baked treats and pet birthday cakes. The “Merry Jayne Margarita” and the “Bark Island Ice Tea” are especially popular.

So far, McLean sells her treats in 13 different retail locations, most lucratively at the Pampered Pets Inn in Mooresville and the Davidson Beverage Company.

Customers can also place orders online or directly from the Yappy Hour Bakery truck, which McLean said is the Charlotte area’s first-ever dog treat vehicle.

How does she know that pets love her treats?

“One time, a gentleman purchased a treat for his dog and almost had his fingers taken off when he gave it to him,” she jokes. “I’ve considered putting a warning label on the package: ‘Feed at your own risk!’”

Not to mention, several regulars buy her product by the pound, claiming that their pets refuse to eat any other treats.

Regarding her aspirations, McLean affirms that she has goals for further development of Yappy Hour. She is deciding between a second truck and a fixed location.

She is delighted with Yappy Hour’s progress thus far. Though there have not been significant speed bumps, her business grew through trial and error; she recalls struggles with advertising, ensuring freshness of the treats and determining the most profitable outlets.

“I love my business. Everything reflects back on me, and I put my heart into everything I do,” McLean said. “Even when I’m standing on black asphalt in 100-degree heat, I’ve never said, ‘Ugh I don’t want to go to work.’”

Want to learn more? Find Yappy Hour Bakery’s truck 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in Birkdale Village. The truck is securable for private events, like “Bring Your Dog to Work Day,” and public events, like farmer’s markets and festivals. You can also find treats at Pampered Pets Inn in Mooresville. Details: www.yappyhourbakery.com.