Pet Tales: A Dalmatian perks up the life of a coffee marketer

When a skinny, spotted, tick-infested homeless puppy climbed into Jordan Karcher’s lap 14 months ago, her life and his were changed forever. The dog he named Molly inspired him to combine his love of coffee with his love for dogs. He started a business where he can make a living and take his own dog to work every day while helping animals in shelters and rescue organizations.

Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. launched on March 21 “and it started faster than I expected,” said Mr. Karcher, 27, who is founder and president. Internet sales of fair trade organic coffee “are fantastic. We’ve had great press, and the pet community has embraced it.”

The coffee company has 14 rescue partners in 13 states. Mr. Karcher’s goal is to form partnerships in all 50 states with organizations that give homeless animals the kind of second chance that Molly got. Twenty percent of all revenue is donated to the rescue partner located closest to the buyer. Sales in Western Pennsylvania benefit the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center in Larimer.

Mr. Karcher grew up in Shaler, where his parents, Kevin and Leann Karcher, still live. He graduated from Shaler Area High School in 2005, and then went to Florida International University near Miami. For five years after graduation, he worked in California in marketing and sales first for a wine company and then for a company that sells spirits. He and Molly now live in South Bend, Ind., where he is half-way through the MBA program at the University of Notre Dame.

In March, 2012, Mr. Karcher was moving from one California apartment to another when “I stumbled upon a Dalmatian adoption event in Santa Monica. I grew up with a Dalmatian, so I had to stop.”

A 20-pound brown-and-white puppy, 8 months old, climbed into his lap and he couldn’t leave without her. Mr. Karcher named her Molly and spent the rest of the day and a great deal of money buying everything a dog might need in her new home.

Molly has doubled her weight to 40 pounds, which is still small for a Dalmatian (he thinks she is probably part pointer). Molly is very high-energy, as Dalmatians usually are, and she does freeze into the “point” stance that is familiar to lovers of dogs bred to hunt birds.

Mr. Karcher competes in triathlons and Molly accompanies him on training runs, setting a 6-minute, 30-second pace for each mile.

“The triathlon community has embraced Grounds & Hounds,” he said, and sales are also especially good in the Pittsburgh area, where he still has many friends and relatives.

 “I wanted to start my own business so I could work with my dog,” Mr. Karcher said. “I have loved coffee since I took my first sip on a cold Pittsburgh morning as a 12-year-old. I’m 6 feet, 4 inches tall, so i don’t think it stunted my growth. For the past 15 years my passion for the perfect brew has led me to seek out amazing coffees all over the world.”

He did some of the preliminary work on his company while attending Notre Dame full-time and training for triathlons.

“I don’t sleep much,” he joked. “I am good for 20 hours a day.”

Mr. Karcher is on the road a lot promoting his coffee business, and Molly always travels with him.

The distinctive 12-ounce bags of coffee are white with brown type and artwork, including a white dog with dark spots. Prices are $13.50-$14 for coffee with names like Single Origin Peru Decaffeinated and Single Origin Ethiopian Sidamo.

Paper and Slippers Blend, which has light and dark roast beans sourced from Peru, Nicaragua and Mexico “delivers great acidity and a very full body,” says the web site. “Hints of brownie and toasted nuts are immediately noticed, followed by blackberry and blueberry on the finish.” The best-seller is Alpha Blend dark roast.

Right now the company “is pretty much me,” Mr. Karcher said, though an investor helped him with start-up costs and Brad Vlassich, a friend from North Allegheny High School, is “helping me get the brand going in California.”

To place orders or for more information, go to  or the Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. Facebook page.

Pet first aid

Deb Chebatoris owns Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation, but she likes to help pets live long lives, so once again she is offering free classes in pet first aid, taught by Karen Sable of Pet Emergency Training LLC.

Ms. Sable will be teaching how to handle many emergencies, including canine and feline CPR, bleeding, choking, heat and cold injuries, bites and stings, seizures, poisoning, fractures and limb injuries.

The class is 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. June 1 in Bethel Park. Though the class is free, call Ms. Chebatoris at 412-220-7800 to let her know you’re coming. The RSVP deadline is Sunday.

Agility competition

Here’s your chance to see dogs jumping hurdles, running through tunnels and traversing a “dog walk” high above the floor in agility competition today, Sunday and Monday. The shows are at the Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena, 22 Rich Hill Road, Cheswick (15204).

Dogs will be running the agility courses from about 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. There is no admission charge for spectators, but leave your own pets at home. The competition is put on by the Golden Triangle Obedience Training Club.

Photo fund raiser

For the third year, Nicole Begley Photography will hold a Food for Fido fund raiser on June 14 in Marshall to collect food and money for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. People who pay a $35 session fee and donate a large bag of pet food will get a 15-minute photo shoot of their pet and a 5-by-7-inch print.

You must schedule a session in advance by going to or calling 724-766-6103.  

Dog-friendly cities

Portland, Ore., is the “best city to have a dog,” but Pittsburgh is number 14, according to a new study by NerdWallet, “a consumer-friendly financial literacy website that helps consumers make better decisions about their personal finances and more.” 

NerdWallet came up with a top 20 list by analyzing three things: social opportunities for dogs, which means the number of off-leash dog parks per 100,000 residents; affordability, including the cost of visits to veterinarians; and walkability, measuring how optimal a city is for walking a dog.

Portland has 5.7 dog parks per 100,000 people, while Pittsburgh has 1.3 parks. The cost of a vet visit is $50.14 in Portland and $48.72 in Pittsburgh. Portland scored a 62.8 score in walkability while Pittsburgh scored 59.8. The number of shelters and adoption centers were also taken into account. Portland’s final score was 79.15 while Pittsburgh’s is 52.69.

Here’s the top 20: Portland; Norfolk, Va.; Jersey City, N.J.; Madison, Wis.; Las Vegas; Miami; Washington, D.C.; Milwaukee; St. Louis, Mo.; Long Beach, Calif.; Baltimore; Seattle; Oakland, Calif.; Pittsburgh; Tampa, Fla.; Chicago; Cincinnati; Newark, N.J.; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Sacramento, Calif.

Go to for further detail.

Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Contact Linda Wilson Fuoco on her Facebook page, or 412-263-3064. Got a pet health question? Email it to It may be answered in an upcoming