I didn’t become a dog person until later in life - over five decades in, to be exact. Ask any family member of mine and they’d probably tell you that I would have been more likely to move out of downtown Chicago than ever own a dog. Turns out I did both.
Two years ago, a tiny hound puppy named Lucy entered my life.
Lucy is my first dog, and needless to say, I knew nothing when she arrived. I was like a new parent, equally obsessed with - and clueless about - this new focus of my attention.
We discovered pizzle sticks (also known as bully sticks) when she was four months old. The first one I gave her was life changing: she was so happy, dancing and prancing around. Then things suddenly got scary. She pulled it out of my hand and ran away with it, and in her excitement, tried to swallow it whole.
I had to reach into Lucy’s mouth and pull the treat out of her throat as she gagged on it, but we got lucky. We learned the situation could have been much worse: our vet told us of dogs needing surgery from esophageal damage from choking, or intestinal blockage from swallowing pieces whole.
That’s when I began my search for a safer way to give Lucy treats that would keep her occupied within distance of my watchful eye while I had some free time to myself.
I purchased product after product, and one by one, threw them in the trash. The first few barely held the pizzle stick in place; she was able to easily get them loose. Some products she chewed through, and others were so big that most of the stick was left unchewed inside the device. Ultimately, they all got messy as they inevitably got dragged through the dirt. We always ended up coming back to an inconvenient but reliable solution: using a pair of pliers to hold a bully stick as Lucy gnawed away.
I come from a family of entrepreneurs and inventors. My instinct was to create a solution to this problem I’d encountered - if for no one else but myself and Lucy.
The Treat Clincher is the result of that brainstorming. Part pizzle stick holder, part vice grip, the goal was to allow Lucy to go to work on a treat while leaving my hands free to get some work done, with peace of mind that she’d be safely occupied. I have been testing and improving upon our prototypes for over a year now, and the effect on our lives has been significant. Lucy loves the result, and so do her human parents.
The Treat Clincher patent is pending. We have several very cool accessories for the Treat Clincher in progress. Stay tuned for more inventions from entrepreneurs who like to build better mouse traps.
Susan Mravca, Jim Mravca, and Peter Spevacek