A 14-year-old boy with autism is so passionate about dogs and baking, he’s now using his skills to fundraise and help support a guide dog.
Ryder Newhouse, who lives in Harrison, has been making cookies for his unofficial therapy dog, Tommy, and other pooches for two years. But it was just recently that he had the idea to sell the cookies and donate to charity.
Before Christmas last year, Ryder was welcomed into Fergie’s Doggie Delight Pet Bakery in Chilliwack as part of Agassiz Secondary School’s ‘Take Our Kids to Work Day’ where he made cookies for dogs on his newspaper route for Christmas.
Soon after that experience, he decided he wanted to make and sell dog cookies with part proceeds going to BC and Alberta Guide Dogs – specifically to help with the training costs for a five-month-old puppy named Juniper.
Since January, Ryder has been baking up a storm both at home and at Fergie’s making ‘Tommy’s Choice’ dog treats named after his furry companion.
Even though Tommy is not an official therapy dog, she acts just like one sticking by Ryder’s side all the time and bringing him comfort. Ryder wants to help other kids have therapy dogs “because some kids can’t see and the dogs help them,” he said.
Ryder has been promoting the cookie sales at dog parks by handing out his business cards and he wants to get his product into farmers’ markets, said mom Nicole Newhouse.
“I like to see him being able to learn how to run a business because he has that entrepreneurial spirit naturally,” she said.
There are two different flavours of Tommy’s Choice cookies – apple cinnamon and pumpkin peanut butter – and they are $9 per package with 50 per cent of proceeds going towards Juniper’s training.
The young yellow Labrador lives on Vancouver Island where she’s currently being trained. According to BC and Alberta Guide Dogs, it takes two years and upwards of $35,000 to produce one certified dog that is provided free-of-charge to the recipient.
Ryder said he feels “really good” and proud that he’s helping towards the costs, and when asked what the best part is about making the cookies, he answered immediately.
“Raising money for Juniper,” Ryder said.
So far, he’s already donated $73 to BC and Alberta Guide Dogs.
Kim Goodall with BC and Alberta Guide Dogs said what Ryder is doing is generous and thoughtful and she’s looking forward to meeting him and Tommy in person to thank them.
“Ryder’s decision to support Juniper and dogs like her through his efforts will enable others to benefit from the program, which is kindness in action,” she said. “Ryder’s actions are inspiring, and we are honoured to be the recipient.”
Connie MacDonald, co-owner of Fergie’s Doggie Delight Pet Bakery, agrees that what Ryder is doing is wonderful.
“Amazing, absolutely amazing. It brings tears to my eyes,” she said.
Tommy’s Choice dog treats can be purchased at Fergie’s (9372 Mill St.). For more, call 604-791-9299 or email email@example.com.