Pet Tales: Kookies! Katelyn's treats please dogs, help children

In a busy holiday season filled with shopping, wrapping, decorating and baking, Sara Stamos has added another item to her “to do” list: baking thousands of bone-shaped dog treats.

The preservative- and sugar-free treats are called Katelyn’s Kookies in honor of her 5-year-old daughter, Katelyn Kelley. This is the third year they’re being sold at the Eat’n Park restaurant in Robinson, where Ms. Stamos has worked for 19 years. Through Dec. 10 the treats will be sold “to benefit kids like Katelyn,” Ms. Stamos said.

Katelyn was born with atrial septal defect, a hole in her heart. When she was 3 years old, Ms. Stamos learned her little girl needed open heart surgery. The surgery at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC was successful, and Katelyn is healthy. Her Kookies are sold as part of Eat’n Park’s annual Caring for Kids Campaign, with proceeds going to the hospital where Katelyn’s heart was repaired.   

It was Katelyn’s grandmother, June Stamos, who came up with the idea of making treats as a way to give thanks and give back. The family decided to make sweets for dogs rather than people because Katelyn loves dogs, especially Rust-E, her family’s 11-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever.

Rust-E, whose face and paws are turning white with age, seldom leaves Katelyn’s side. He is a perennially enthusiastic taste tester of the recipe that includes whole-wheat flour, unsweetened applesauce, egg and cinnamon. Three bone-shaped Kookies go into each bag, which sells for $1.

In 2015, the Kookies were mixed and baked at the family’s McKees Rocks home, and over 300 bags were sold at the Robinson Eat’n Park. Last year, mixing and baking moved to the restaurant. The 2016 goal was 750 bags, and 1,447 bags were sold. This year, more than 1,000 bags had been sold by the end of November.

“I thank my co-workers who help with this,” said Ms. Stamos, who is a service supervisor.  

How time-consuming is the process?

“Last week, we made 1,800 treats in 2½ hours,” she said. It took another two hours to bag them.

Katelyn has a hands-on role as she did when she was 3 and 4.

“The first year she helped with the baking at home,” Ms. Stamos said. “Rust-E sat there the entire time, sitting and sniffing. Rust-E loves these Kookies. Two weeks ago, I took Katelyn to Eat’n Park, and she helped run the mixer and she cut out the Kookies.” 

Katelyn also helps to wrap and bag the treats.

Although sales are brisker than last year, don’t worry. Eat’n Park in Robinson is not going to run out. Baking will continue until Dec. 10.

Look for them in the pie case. Refrigeration is needed because the treats contain no preservatives or coloring.

Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 412-263-3064 or on Facebook.

First Published December 1, 2017 8:00 AM