Local doggie health food store donates to NPD’s K9, Nitro

SIDNEY – The Houndstooth Bakery and Boutique, in Sidney N.Y., has offered to provide dog food to Norwich Police Department K9 Officer Tom Miller and his partner, Nitro.

Cassandra Vance, Owner of The Houndstooth Bakery and Boutique, came to learn about Tom Miller and Nitro by chance this past year. According to Vance, she met Miller's mother who was in her shop asking for dietary help with Miller's other rescued dog, Zeus. After Vance said that she would be able to help with Zeus's diet, Miller cam to the shop to discuss the issue at hand. This is when Vance found out about Nitro – Miller's K9 police partner. Vance was immediately taken with the duo. “I am so in awe of the relationship that must exist between human and dog in this realm,” said Vance. “And Tom [Miller] epitomizes the work, passion and devotion that goes into training.”

When Miller expressed an interest in providing both of his dogs with high quality, healthy, diets, and when Vance found out that Miller was feeding Nitro out of his own pocket, she offered to just donate the food for Nitro – as a thank you for the service that Miller and Nitro provide to the community. “She just said we'll take care of her from now on,” said Miller. “She went out of her way to do that. She didn't have to do that.”

Vance said that she applauds Miller for recognizing that great food plays a major role in Nitro's line of work. “She is a well tuned athlete and nutrition is vital,” said Vance. “Nitro is an incredible dog who has proven time and time again what a valuable asset she is to the police department. And Miller has paid for all of Nitro's extensive training, so I am more than happy to provide great food for her.”

Vance and Miller plan to have a "Nitro" Day at The Houndstooth soon so she can show off all of her special talents.

Vance opened The Houndstooth Bakery and Boutique in 2002. Vance said that due to her late husband's medical challenges, she knew the importance of healthy eating, and she began to research people food. This led to her begin looking at the ingredients in dog food as well. “I was appalled at what was allowed,” said Vance.

Moreover, before the opening of The Houndstooth, Vance would travel over an hour to purchase quality food for her own dog – Elliott. According to Vance, Elliott just did not thrive as a puppy. But as soon as she switched him to a higher quality food, his health – and his attitude – changed dramatically. Vance's research into healthful eating coupled with her experiences with Elliott made her realize what the local community needed. “And I knew at that point what I wanted to do – open a holistic shoppe for our four legged fur friends,” said Vance.

Vance opened her first location in May of 2002 in downtown Bainbridge. “I am so very grateful that so many people trusted me and believed in my mission – which translated in to healthier dogs and cats.”

From Bainbridge, Vance moved the shoppe to a farmhouse between Bainbridge and Afton. She and her husband renovated the farmhouse for the shoppe and built four cottages for boarding. They also put in an off lead dog park they called the Bark Park. “It was a great adventure at that location,” said Vance, “But when my husband passed away, I knew changes had to be made – and so did the universe.”

In September of 2014, The Houndstooth moved to downtown Sidney. “I reconnected with a great guy, Scott,” said Vance, “Who thoroughly embraced my crazy life of dogs and suggested that we move the shoppe to Sidney – a much more central location.”

The couple purchased a run-down, derelict building in Sidney and have completely renovated it. “There were no walls, electric, heat, flooring, etc., so the transformation has been "paw"some,” said Vance. “We even have a cool fenced in mini "bark park" here.”

“We are still in the process of renovating but are close to the end mark,” said Vance.

Nitro is a nearly five year old, pure-bred, black shepherd female. Miller has had Nitro at the Norwich Police Department for over a year now. Prior to coming to Norwich, Nitro worked part time with Miller in New Berlin for approximately three years.

Miller bought Nitro as a puppy and took her to a private obedience, agility, and protection trainer in Schuyler, N.Y. For several months when she was young. After that, Miller took Nitro to the Southern Tier Canine Association in Endicott to get her certified. This is also where Nitro has to go for her yearly maintenance training. “I paid for all of it originally,” said Miller, her food included. When Vance offered to supply Nitro's sustenance, Miller was appreciative of the gesture. “I was very thankful to her,” said Miller. “And so is the department and the community.”

According to Vance, the mission statement for The Houndstooth is as follows: "This unique shoppe will provide customers with upscale, whimsical gifts that reflect the love they share with their canine companions. It will be a source of all natural, super premium, human grade dog food and gourmet biscuits so as to ensure that the dogs and cats we cherish so much can live a healthy and happy life."

For more information about The Houndstooth Bakery and Boutique, call (607) 563-2275 or visit the shoppe at 87 Main St. in Sidney. The shoppe is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The shoppe is closed on Mondays.

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