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Pet Age recently caught up with Erik Senders, founder of Mika & Sammy’s, to learn how the small, family-owned company from Pennsylvania has created a niche for itself in the highly competitive dog treat sector.

Q What is the story behind Mika & Sammy’s?

A The story begins before we were in the business—actually, before we even had a dog. Our son Sam, who is special needs, was terrified of dogs. After going back and forth with his psychologist, we decided to rescue a dog. We named him Marley. Little did we know Marley would not only change Sam’s life, but it would change our family’s life forever.

Like lots of pet parents, nothing was good enough for Marley, especially not chews. Therefore, we begin to smoke our own marrow bones for him. I decided to show a friend who owned a pet store the bones, and he loved them. In fact, he loved them so much he wanted to sell them in his store. Before we knew it, we were smoking bones on the side of our house almost 24/7. We named the brand Sammy’s Smokin’ Bones. Following our early success with our bones we decided to start making treats. Our aim was to create a low-ingredient, all-natural, healthy dog treat we would feed our Marley. That’s when we decided on jerky treats.

Now keep in mind at this time our name was still Sammy’s Smokin’ Bones. However, our daughter Mikaela was getting older and began reading. When she didn’t see her name on the label, she went crazy! From that night on, we became Mika & Sammy’s!

Q Where are your treat’s proteins sourced from?

A All of our treats and bones are sourced right here in the United States. We only use human-intended ingredients in our treats.

Q Why did you go with unconventional names for your jerky treats?

A It’s simple. We love what we do and we have fun doing it. So why not have fun with our different flavors! Pet parents love doggie kisses, hence Kiss Me Fresh Breath. And since we’re from Philly, we had to show love with our Cheesesteaks. Lastly, the title that is closest to our heart is Uncle Justy’s Just Chicken. Our children’s favorite person in the entire world was their Uncle Justin. Therefore, we decided to name a treat after him. RIP Justin Kuttler.

Q What are you most proud of regarding your smoked beef marrow bones?

A Our Smoked Beef Marrow Bones are really in a class of their own. We smoke our bones for over 48 hours with hickory wood. As always, we never cut corners. Therefore, we don’t use liquid smoke or any other chemicals that can be harmful for pups. And lastly, we smoke our bones at a very low temperature. We do this for a few reasons, one because we want to keep all of the natural marrow in the center of the bone. And the second reason is because when using high temperatures, it makes the bone bridle. We would rather wait a few days with a slow smoke to ensure dogs have hours of chewing satisfaction.

Q What are the benefits of Mika & Sammy’s being a family-owned and operated business?

A Being a family owned and operated company means the world to us. We built this business in our own home before moving to a larger facility. My wife, Anna, and I did it all by ourselves for a while. Our first employee who never took a paycheck was Anna’s mother, Ella, who continues to help us on a daily basis. Since our humble beginnings, we’ve come a long way. We now have employees who work with us. All of our employees are our family and care about us and our brand. However, both my wife and I are there every day continuing to do whatever it takes for Mika & Sammy’s to never lose its integrity. Some days I slice chicken while Anna lays it out on trays. We love being hands on. This is our baby, and we love Mika & Sammy’s!

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