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Made in Montana: The Gentle Scent of Success

Thursday Sep. 1st, 2011

Combining a love of dogs with a love of gardening may seem an unlikely mix, but the result of Nancy Tanner’s unique brand of alchemy is a line of canine aromatherapy products designed to enhance training, support desired behavior and bring balance to man (and woman’s) best friends.

Nancy is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, owner of Paws and People (pawsandpeople.com) in Bozeman, Montana. She takes an integrative approach to dog training, constantly aware of the external and internal stimuli her clients and their dogs face. Over the years, working with hundreds of dogs, she found the most effective approach is to create a layered environment of calming sounds, appropriate scents, structure, management and a good training plan.

When she began researching aromatherapy about five years ago Nancy realized it had great potential to improve the balance she sought for her clients and their animals. At a lecture by Dr. Randy Kidd, she learned that living creatures are drawn to herbs and plants that they need. And she saw the proof of this in her own backyard.
An avid gardner, Nancy and her family began a biodynamic garden eight years ago with great success, and used the plants they grew for rubs, ointments, medicine, teas and food. It was also a source of delight for her dogs: Story, a Border Collie; Ocean, a Border Collie/Aussie cross; Franny, a Montana Mountain Mix; and $eeker, a Border Collie. She says, “My garden is soul-filling, and just a great dirt experience. I’m not sure who loves it more, me or my dogs.”

In her blog, she describes how she first noticed the specific pull the herbs held for her dogs.

“I was curious why my dogs, and myself for that matter, were always attracted to certain plants in the garden. For example, Franny would always lay by the hops, Ocean by the lavender rows, and Story in the lemon balm. It turns out they were all in the ‘calming’ family.”

This planted the seed and she began experimenting with various essential oils, hydrosols, and hydrosol blends. She sought out expert advice and used herself and her dogs to determine which blends were the most effective.

She describes her testing grounds. “Since I travel over 22 weekends a year to either compete with my dogs or give workshops” she says, “it gave me a great opportunity to bring my blends along, use them in hotel rooms, barns, crating areas at trials, and also during storm cycles. In agility barns with up to 70 dogs, some barking, high energy levels and stress in the environment (both handler and dog), it seemed to be a great assist in taking the edge off. Hotel rooms with noises in the hallways became no big deal over time. Over the past three years we have also had good success with these room mists in our group and private classes.”

Eventually people began to notice and ask about purchasing the mists for their own use. It was time to launch the Paws & People’s Canine Aromatherapy line as a business.

Nancy knew she wanted to use only 100% aromatic essential oils, so she had to find a source able to provide the quantity and quality she would need. The bottles had to be recyclable, and the blue tint would help preserve the quality of the mist. The labels had to be waterproof.

Then came the manufacturing process.

“I didn’t know anything about manufacturing”, she says. “We had to learn it all by trial and error, but it came together.”

The first production party took place in the basement of her home, where family and friends gathered to package, label and prepare the products for shipping. She began selling at Farmer’s Markets, and set up a store on her website (http://shop.pawsandpeople.com/Aromatherapy_c4.htm) where she has Calm, Comfort, SunUP, ReFRESH, OOMPH and Brighten Room mists available for sale in various sizes. She’s placed several wholesale orders and looks forward to increasing her sales as the word continues to spread.

“Paws & People Aromatherapy line has been moving along steadily,” Nancy says, “thanks in large part to wonderful word of mouth and wonderful clients who are always looking to add another layer of support. This week we picked up three more dealers, YAY! (and thank you for believing in us), sent out 5 cases, and 10 individual orders… and it’s only Thursday… I am excited and so very humbled all at the same time. Proud to be … Made in Montana!”
The dogs in the Gallatin Valley and beyond who have enjoyed the effects of canine aromatherapy couldn’t agree more.

Lynn Kinnaman is the author of four books, numerous magazine and newspaper articles, and blogs on several sites. She is the owner of Works by Design, a website design company, and helps businesses and individuals communicate their message through writing, marketing and an effective online presence. She can be contacted at Lynn@LynnKinnaman.com/.