When not busy making special days possible as an event coordinator for a country club, Maria Tagliarino contributes to dogs' special occasions, too. With the help of her husband Dennis who is an executive chef, she has started Three Bean Bakery, a pet bakery offering organic, natural and healthy cakes and treats for dogs.
Tagliarino's four -- two of which came from rescues -- dogs have always dealt with tummy or skin issues. As a result, for years the family had searched for natural treats that were sensitive enough for their pets. Eventually, they resorted to making treats themselves as an affordable and healthy option, with complete control of the ingredients in them.
Working with a cake baker, Tagliarino often found herself asking for cakes made especially for dogs - until she decided to make her own with her husband. Starting off by making cakes just for themselves, they began receiving requests from friends and family until it gradually expanded to shipping to locals and customers all over the country, a few stories in the area, and pet stores in New York and Texas. It's all word of mouth, Tagliarino says, as they currently don't advertise anywhere.
Celebrating its fourth year in business this September, Three Beans Bakery sells celebration and birthday cakes, "pupcakes," snacks and specialty dipped and decorated treats, in addition to toys and accessories they expanded to include after receiving several requests.
Avid supporters of pet adoption and rescuing, between monetary and product donations, 15 to 20 percent of profits are donated to local and national pet rescues, especially no-kill shelters, including the Dachshund Rescue South Florida and the Humane Society of Broward County.
As the bakery has built on its success in the last few years, it has been approached by companies offering to go bigger with mass production. Tagliarino says they turned down the offers, however, as it's not what they are looking for.
"We don't want it to be that," she said. "We really want it to stay personal and fresh, knowing what the ingredients are and everything that we're doing is by us, and not just mass produced."
Working out of Oakland Park, Tagliarino bakes everything at home during any free time she finds after work and on the weekends. Everything is personalized and baked fresh to order; nothing is frozen. The time-consuming efforts, however, are never considered a chore.
"It's a labor of love," she said. "We love it. This is going to be our retirement job one day."
Tagliarino is also constantly learning more about what ingredients to bake with that are good for dogs.
"We're always looking for different things that are good for them," she said. "A lot of things that are good for dogs are the same things that are good for and bad for a human."
After researching from various resources and discovering what specific ingredients can help dogs with - like pumpkin for constipation - her husband helps to create the recipes.
Trying to help educate others on dogs' nutrition, they regularly update the Three Beans Bakery Facebook page with information they find on dogs' health and their findings on what is and isn't good to feed them.
To shop at Three Bean Bakery visit threebeanbakery.com.