Toys and treats promote interaction between pets and owners.
By Lindsay Hanks
Talk to Me Rubber Treat Ball
How to help an anxious pet: The question had been swirling in Rod Herrenbruck’s mind while he played with his young son. The company he worked for was in the midst of formulating a pet food with added herbs to calm animal separation anxiety, and a new inspiration hit Herrenbruck.
"My son and I were playing with this toy ball that played different sayings when you pushed the buttons—things like ‘The fireman says don’t play with matches,’” Herrenbruck said. "I turned to my wife and said, ‘Wouldn’t this ball be cool if you could record your own message?’ And then I started thinking about making it for pets instead.”
The resultant product was the Talk To Me Treat Ball, as well as a new company for Herrenbruck. MACS (Marketing and Creative Sales) released its treat ball, winning Best New Dog Toy from the recently renamed American Pet Products Association when it was introduced to the market in 2001. In 2008, owner Herrenbruck renamed the company Talk To Me Pet Products, LLC., and began expanding its product line.
Talk to Me
At a Glance
Parent Company: Talk To Me Pet Products, LLC.
Owner: Rod Herrenbruck
Location: Chesterfield, MO (St. Louis)
No. of Employees: 5
No. of Years in Business: 8 years
The Treat Ball, for anxious pets whose owners hate to leave them alone for hours on end, is made to provide hours of interactive fun—even when the owner’s gone. Designed with slit openings on the surface and internal deflectors, the ball randomly releases whatever is inside as the pet plays. Customers can fill the balls with any treats that fit through the holes, including pieces of kibble. Originally only available in hard plastic, the ball also will be available in rubber starting June 1.
What sets the battery-operated treat ball apart is an internal microchip capable of recording personal messages for up to 12 seconds. Owners can re-record new messages as often as they want. The mental challenge to get the treats, along with the presence of its owner’s voice, distracts the lonesome pet to counteract its separation anxiety while its owner is away. Although it was made with dogs in mind, other pets love using the smaller treat balls too.
"It’s motion-activated. So all you have to do is put the treats inside, record a message, turn the recording on when you leave, and then the treats will randomly fall out when the dog plays.” said Michael Sachtleben, director of sales for Talk To Me. "And it’ll trigger your recording so you can tell your dog whatever you want when you’re gone. It plays on all five senses.”
Nearly a decade after the flagship product’s inception, Talk To Me has extended its product lines to include Treats and double-layered Sticks and Bites, all mint- and cheese-flavored dental-health chew treats for dogs. Newest to the company are special occasion greeting cards filled with dog treats—so that both pet and owner can enjoy holidays together. Herrenbruck also plans to extend the treat and greeting card line this summer to include cats.
"The motivation has always been to develop a line of pet products that are unique, interactive and fun for the whole family with their pets,” Sachtleben said. <HOME>
Talk to Me Product Lines:
- Toys: motion-activated hidden treat balls
- Pup-RRR-Mint and Muttz-RRR-Ella Treats: mint- and cheese-flavored dental treats for dogs
- Pup-RRR-Mint and Muttz-RRR-Ella Sticks & Bites: dual-layered dental chews filled with mint or cheese
- Greeting Cards: special occasion greeting cards filled with dog treats
- Feline Treats and Greeting Cards
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