A brown-eyed Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Maddie nosed around Sweet Paws Bakery Friday night in search of brightly colored plastic Easter eggs and the treats inside.
Maddie, 8, took part in the Haile Plantation community bakery’s seventh annual Easter egg hunt for dogs.
The Easter tradition began in the shop’s first year after shop owner Colleen O’Fallon said she noticed her own dogs enjoyed hunting for hidden goodies.
“My dogs love searching for treats, and I figured they weren’t alone,” she said.
The event has been held every year since, she said, providing a social experience for dogs and owners alike.
Jennifer Leggett, a 21-year old UF public relations junior who assists the bakery with marketing, said she had as much fun as the dogs did trying to keep them focused on the task at hand.
“The dogs were running around oblivious,” Leggett said, “and I’m pointing and gesturing to the eggs with the treats, all excited.”
O’Fallon started baking dog treats in 2005 for local farmers markets. In 2007, she opened Sweet Paws Bakery and expanded her product line to include food, leashes and other accessories.
Maddie’s owner, Susan Davis, 51, has been visiting the bakery since it first opened.
Although this year was Maddie’s first Easter egg hunt, the two have gone to other events at the bakery, including the Christmas party that O’Fallon has hosted for the past two years.
Besides providing discounted treats and a social atmosphere, the Christmas event gives dogs the opportunity for a photo with Santa in exchange for a donation to Pets Are Wonderful Support, or PAWS.
“(Haile Plantation) is a very dog-friendly community with lots of trails, but there is no dog park,” Davis said. “Sweet Paws is kind of a focal point for the dog owners in the community.”
[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 4/21/2014 under the headline "Local pups sniff their way through Easter egg hunt for dogs"]
Colleen O’Fallon, a UF alumna and owner of Sweet Paws Bakery, helps Spike, a 7-year-old bichon frise and poodle mix, receive his reward for successfully finding an Easter egg. Sweet Paws hosted an Easter egg hunt for dogs Friday evening. Eggs contained dog treats.