Back in 1994, many moons ago, long before the internet, Marianne Bertrand, the founder and Sherpaw of Muttluks, was gifted a set of simple polar fleece dog boots for one of her basset hounds, Bertie Basset. It was a humorous gift that turned into no laughing matter when it became the seed of conception for Muttluks dog boots we know today.
Temperatures were at a record low of -32 degrees Celsius in Toronto and dog boots, a fledgling product in the market place, were in short supply. With three basset hounds and one set of boots Marianne was determined to provide paw protection for all her dogs even if she had to make them herself. And so it began.Unexpected and Exciting
As Marianne and her three bassets, all dressed in boots, walked through town the word spread about “the woman who made dog boots”. Bertrand says “people were knocking at my door saying “You don’t know me but I heard someone at the blue house makes dog boots…” and people who worked in the shops on Queen Street East would come out and stop me to get my phone number to pass it on to their friends. It was all completely unexpected and very exciting.”
With a business degree majoring in small business and accounting, Marianne knew this kind of unsolicited market reaction was a golden opportunity and “the tip of the iceberg” as she puts it. On January 28th, 1994 she purchased raw materials and set up production of the first Muttluks on her dining room table in The Beach in Toronto Ontario. The product sold out immediately and she continued sewing more boots as the cold spelled lasted well into mid-February. Those first boots were sold in ziplock bags with nothing more than her phone number on them.
The name Muttluks didn’t evolve until months later when Marianne decided to form a company manufacturing dog boots based on the success of the first prototypes. The original company logo designed by Marianne was a silhouette of a basset with the word Muttluks embedded in it. Muttluks was formally incorporated as Muttluks Inc. on September 16, 1994 and attended the first trade show, the Toronto PIJAC show in September 1994. The rest as they say is history.
The Dog Boot Paradigm
The whole concept of dog boots was a sign of the times. The paradigm and mind set towards animals and pets was in the midst of changing and new raw materials were available in the market that made dog boots a possibility. Polar fleece for example, hot off the press and newly invented, was perfect for dog boots.
The premise behind making dog boots came from the heart. It was based on making this world a better place and in this case helping dogs in a way that had never been done before. Very few boots were on the market at the time and those that were on the market wore out quickly, fell off quickly, or were stiff and uncomfortable. Dog boots were so deplorable in those days that the joke among retailers in those days was; they sold 10 sets of dog boots and got 11 returns.
Pioneering Days of Dog Boots
These were the pioneering days for dog boots and paw protection. Bertrand’s focus on boot durability and dog comfort elevated dog boots to a whole new level and created a whole new industry sector. Muttluks boots and the company itself have come a long way since then. Culminating to the present where human shoe technology and barefoot technology are incorporated in the dog boot design.