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Bangkok Post ŧɳȡͧ

Frozen delights for our four-legged friends

Surangkana's deep love for dogs and desire to indulge them spawned what began as a hobby into a successful home-made ice-cream business

  • Published: 4/07/2010 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: Brunch

Initially, she only intended to cater to her hard-to-please dog who was very picky about food, but unexpectedly Surangkana Pipatchokchaiyo ended up catering to countless other dogs who also had a sweet tooth.

Her special canine ice-cream is under the brand name Doggy Ice Home-made Ice Cream.

It all started a decade ago when Ms Surangkana wanted to learn how to make home-made ice-cream to share with her family, friends and students. After attending several ice-cream workshops conducted by veteran ice-cream makers, Ms Surangkana continued to sharpen her skills at home for another six months, making a wide variety of ice-cream in different flavours including orange, fruit sherbet and yoghurt ice-cream. Her efforts paid off beautifully and those who managed to taste her home-made ice-cream were quite impressed and unanimously agreed it was extremely tasty.

One day her dog inspired her to take on a new challenge; Ms Surangkana always follows her heart and would do anything for her loved ones.

"Money is my fussy dog. She has little appetite for dog food. But one day, while I was making durian ice-cream at home, she came in and interestingly enough smelt it. So I gave her a bit and unbelievably she finished it all! I couldn't believe it," recalled Ms Surangkana.

"So I asked myself why not make home-made ice-cream for dogs? If my dog has a low appetite but enjoys eating this ice-cream, then other dogs like her might also enjoy it and could benefit from it as well," she added.

This idea quickly catapulted Ms Surangkana to forge ahead with the plan and go about her canine ice-cream business, which has become a success among canine consumers, especially with poor appetites.

Apart from the great taste, Ms Surangkana ensures that her ice-cream is also healthy for the canines; she approached many veterinary surgeons and asked them for a complete list of beneficial nourishment to incorporate into her doggy ice-cream. Ms Surangkana did a lot of research and gained more knowledge on canine nutrition through countless foreign textbooks to make sure that none of the ingredients she planned to use were in any way detrimental to animals.

IT’S GRRRREAT: Home-made doggy ice-cream is growing in popularity among the canine community.

"A dog's natural digestive system is much different from that of humans, which means I have to control the quantity of milk and sugar I put into the ice-cream. My low-fat ice-cream is made from glucose, which will not make the animals fat because it provides only half the energy compared to the energy provided by sugar. It will not increase the blood sugar level drastically," she explained.

In addition, the low-fat milk used in making her ice-cream is imported and the amount used is considerably low since dogs cannot digest large quantities of milk.

"I take special care with every ingredient I use and only use them after getting advice from a bunch of vets," said Ms Surangkana.

Unsurprisingly, with such wholehearted concerns, all the materials used in making her popular ice-cream are somewhat expensive. It costs Ms Surangkana about 500 baht to make 1kg of ice-cream, but she is happy to pay for such high quality raw materials.

"It's not worth it to feed our beloved pets with ice-cream that will ruin their health or is made from low quality ingredients," she stressed.

Even though her doggy ice-cream is low-fat, eating too much of it can certainly deteriorate the animal's health.

COOL: Surangkana Pipatchokchaiyo is more than happy to keep all her canine customers cool and content with her sweet delights.

"I have to tell all the dog owners who buy my ice-cream that it is not advisable to feed their animals with this cold dessert too frequently. And they should only feed it to their pets every once in awhile, or on special occasions like when they behave well or follow commands," she suggested.

Her doggy ice-cream can also be given to cats, however, they must be fed a very small amount, much less than for dogs. On average the recommended amount of ice-cream that is safe for dog consumption is about half a scoop, and a quarter of a scoop for cats.

After gathering more information on the topic, and after her initial launch of her doggy ice-cream received a huge response from dog owners, Ms Surangkana officially started her doggy ice-cream business.

"When it first launched, many dog owners bought it for their dogs and they always told me that they had no idea there was even such a thing as doggy ice-cream! Many came back to buy more of my ice-cream since their dogs loved it," she beamed.

So far, her doggy ice-cream has just one flavour - milk butter. But what makes her frozen sweets more alluring and tasty are the wide variety of toppings that come with them, an assortment of flavours such as carrot, chicken, cookies, liver, beef and vegetable.

Her cartons of ice-cream come in medium and large sizes. The medium size consists of two scoops, enough for four servings, while the large size consists of four scoops, enough for 10 servings.

In the future, Ms Surangkana plans to expand her ice-cream flavours in order to pamper her clients even more.

"I need more time to research and gather information because all ingredients must be safe and useful to the animals. My doggy ice-cream is not just a snack," she elaborated.

According to Ms Surangkana, her doggy ice-cream should be kept in the freezer at minus 18C, which will stay fresh for about a year. But if it is kept in the refrigerator, she warns, the expiry date is greatly shortened to about a month. To add more nutrition, pet owners can sprinkle cooked vegetables, liver, or chicken on top of the ice-cream so the animal will get more fibre and protein as well.

Generally, Ms Surangkana spends her weekend making home-made doggy ice-cream and during the weekday she teaches at Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University (SSRU).

"It requires time and patience to make this ice-cream ... it takes about 4 hours to make just 1kg ... and even longer if a customer orders a large amount," she said.

At present, Ms Surangkana has no shop to sell her frozen doggy desserts but she advertises her products on a website, where customers can also place an order for her wonderful ice-cream.

Ms Surangkana offers free delivery for those who order more than six cartons of ice-cream and live in the delivery zone. Those who live far away or outside the delivery area are charged an extra 100 baht for delivery.

"If time permits, I plan to open a small shop soon. It would be a lot more convenient for my customers to drop by and buy my goods," she said.

But for now, Ms Surangkana is more than happy going about her small hobby/business and spending time with her beloved dogs. Ms Surangkana now has a total of five dogs, three pedigrees and two strays that were dumped by their former owners.

"I'm quite happy to make delicious treats and give my dogs good things. When they eat it, my happiness increases exponentially because I know that what they are eating is not harmful to their health. On top of that, thanks to my ice-cream, I get to stay home more and spend more time with my dogs," she said.

According to Ms Surangkana, the happiest time for her is when all her dogs sleep near her while she is making the ice-cream.

"I feel so happy when they watch me making ice-cream in the kitchen. When I see their faces I always tell myself that the quality of my ice-cream must get better and better.

"I also tell myself that it's not only my own dogs that will be eating this but many other dogs, too. If dogs could speak, they might tell us that they want to eat delicious things like we do as well," she said, laughing.

And whenever her ice-cream is ready to be served, Ms Surangkana always gets a laugh because her five dogs always react differently when tasting the frozen treat.

"I see many different responses from dogs that eat my ice-cream. Some of them make a mad dash when they see my ice-cream, while others enjoy it in a very gentle manner.

"Many of them ignore my ice-cream at first, but then return and lap it all up! Such behaviour makes me laugh and always puts a smile on my face," she explained.

Asked whether she has plans to expand her doggy ice-cream business, Ms Surangkana gave an almost immediate reply, as if she already had an answer in her mind.

"No, not at all. I follow HM the King's examples. I embrace his philosophy of a self-sufficiency economy. HM the King always says that we can do anything that makes us happy, though it is a small thing. But if we do it with our heart, it will be sustainable," she said.

"When I first started this business I told myself that I wouldn't do anything bigger than myself. I think that if we want to do something really big, we must exploit others, both intentionally and unintentionally. I don't want to take advantage of others. I'm happy with my present life," she concluded, with a big grin

 

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