Take Your Dog to Work Day began back in 1999 as a way for professional to bring their furry helpers with them one day per year. And the holiday continues in tomorrow, June 21. But at Kyjen, founded in Centennial by Kyle Hansen every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day as there are a dozen office dogs that test all products.
Kyle Hansen, founder of Kyjen with his dog McMoose.
Kyjen took shape sixteen years ago when Hansen drew a doggy backpack on a paper napkin and created the first design for a company that now produces more than one hundred different toys and products for dogs. The impetus was the fact that Hansen took his dogs everywhere and was in need of products that just weren't being offered. Westword recently sat down with Hansen to talk about squirrels, the outdoors and invincible toys:
Westword:You created this company with the vision better quality toys for your dogs, what's it like knowing that countless dogs are benefiting from your vision?
Kyle Hansen: I think it's great that we're making a difference in dogs' lives, because our dogs do so much for us. They provide us with companionship, adventure, and even improve our health. We want to help make dogs' lives better because they make our lives better -- and that's a great motivation to go to work every day.
Do you have a favorite dog toy or puzzle? Better yet, does your dog seem to have a favorite toy?
One of my favorites is definitely our Invincibles toy. By making a toy that keeps squeaking even when it's punctured, we were able to solve a huge problem in our field. Dogs get bored with their toys when they stop squeaking - -plain and simple. So we got to work on making a squeaker that couldn't be "killed." It's been a great success, I think, because it lasts so much longer than typical squeaky toys. My dog, McMoose, loves a lot of our toys -- he gets first dibs on them, of course. I'd say his favorite is probably our Squawkie Talkie. Its long-lasting squeak makes him howl like crazy!
An office dog playing with a Kyjen original: Hide-a-Squirrel.
How did you come up with some of the ideas for your unique toys, like the Hide-A-Squirrel?
Our amazing design team and I find inspiration from our own dogs, from kids' toys, from our customers, and from a variety of other places. For example, we got the idea for our Bottle Buddies toys -- which consist of plastic water bottles encased in durable plush sleeves -- when we noticed that our own dogs loved to chew on empty water bottles. To some degree, all of our products have a similar starting point. We study dogs' natural instincts and behaviors, and try to make toys and gear that will compliment those traits. Our Hide-A-Squirrel does just that. It allows dogs to hunt, dig, and stalk, which is what they would be doing in the wild.
Do you think that being based in Colorado has helped your company become as successful as it is?
Colorado is an amazingly dog-friendly state, and I think we've definitely benefited as a business from being based here. Our entire Outward Hound product line is inspired by our own outdoor adventures -- we make everything from dog backpacks and life jackets to portable bowls and leash accessories. We make these products to make it easier to bring our dogs with us when we explore the outdoors. And, when you live in Colorado, you want to get outdoors as much as possible. Here we can test our dog backpacks in the Great Sand Dunes or on the Colorado Trail; we can try out our dog life jackets at Union Reservoir or Boulder Creek. Colorado is the perfect place for us.
In your office, it's Take Your Dog To Work Day every day, what do you think about National Take Your Dog to Work Day happening his Friday?
I think National Take Your Dog to Work Day is a wonderful thing. Our dogs make us happy, and they love to spend time with us. So why wouldn't we take them to work with us? If it was Take Your Dog to Work Day every day in every office, people would be a lot happier to go to work.
An office dog wearing an Outward Hound backpack.
An office dog playing with a Kyjen original: Cross Slider.
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