Ryan Kelly's dog, Barkley, is like a member of the family -- almost.
The 18-month-old beagle can't sit at the dinner table. But thanks to Kelly's culinary skills, Barkley can eat as well as his two-legged companion.
Barkley loves Kelly's brand of premium, all-natural, homemade dog treats. But will the panel on ABC's "Shark Tank" have the same appetite to invest in them?
Find out when Kelly, the 11-year-old owner of Ryan's Barkery, appears on the reality TV show May 17 at 9 p.m. Kelly is the youngest entrepreneur to be invited on "Shark Tank" Season 4.
"I'm not really nervous -- maybe a little," Kelly said of his upcoming appearance on "Shark Tank," a program that features product pitches from aspiring entrepreneurs to a panel of potential investors. "The business is mine. I know all about it."
Starting Ryan's Barkery a little over a year ago, Kelly has made about $900 selling the dog treats door to door, at his lacrosse practices and at the monthly pet adoption events hosted by STARelief and Pet Assistance, a Stamford-based pet rescue organization to which he donates a portion of his profits.
Dogs can sink their teeth into one of three flavors: peanut butter, pumpkin apple and low-fat cheddar. An 8 ounce box of dog treats sells for $9.50.
Kelly was inspired to bake the treats after being put off by the ingredients in a brand of processed dog biscuits that he and his mom, Daniela, had purchased for Barkley.
"They seemed like they weren't good for him," Kelly said.
Kelly's motto? "Don't feed your dog anything you wouldn't eat yourself!"
Setting up his operation in the family kitchen, Kelly, with the help of his mother and grandmother, began experimenting with various recipes. Barkley was the first taste tester.
"He gained about 10 to 20 pounds because he liked them so much," Kelly said.
In fact, the treats are proving a barking success throughout the canine community.
"She's crazy for the peanut butter biscuits," Kit Higgins said of her English bulldog, Daisy. "She's a picky eater ... but these were so good she gobbled them up."
Area dogs will have the chance to sample the treats Saturday when Ryan's Barkery makes a special visit to Stew Leonard's in Norwalk from noon to 3 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will go to Stew Leonard III Children's Charities.
Stew Leonard Jr., president and CEO of Stew Leonard's, found the business fetching.
"How could I say no to an 11-year- old entrepreneur?," he said.
"I'd like this to pay for college one day," Kelly said. "But for now, I'm thinking in small steps."
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