Dogs deserve ice cream, too.
It was last Christmas when Wendy Roberts gifted Virginia Roy take-and-make ice cream for dogs. Over a bottle of wine, the two came up with an idea.
"Baskin-Robbins for dogs," Roy says. "A dog-safe place where everything is just for them."
The idea became a reality last month when the duo opened Cones For Bones, Tucson's first doggy ice cream bar. There are eight flavors to choose from: peanut butter, banana, birthday cake, bacon, vanilla, cheddar, blueberry and a dog-safe version of chocolate. Toppings like cookies and mini sausages are also part of the fun. The ice cream comes in a package from a supplier, but Roberts, Roy and employee Lori Day spruce it up before putting it in giant tubs to scoop up for the dogs.
You can bring your pup to eat the ice cream inside the shop, 6121 E. Broadway, or you can get a pint to-go. There are tasters, too — like a beer flight but with doggy ice cream.
"Everyone who walks in here says, 'I wish there were more of these,'" Roberts says.
Beyond the ice cream, there are dog toys, racks of pet clothing and shelves of cookies soon to be supplied by Tucson's Dogs-n-Donuts. Cones For Bones also has an area that they plan to use for doggy birthday parties.
"I've heard of parties of every kind under the sun (for dogs) — birthday parties, adoption parties, even baby showers for your dogs," Roberts says. "There's parties for everything nowadays so we figured, why not? It would be a lot of fun and less mess for people to clean up at home. And who wants six or seven dogs at their house eating birthday cake?"
Cones For Bones provides dog-friendly birthday cake, plus treats to the partygoers. Roberts has even thought about using the space to host corporate events.
The entire concept for Cones For Bones is rooted in Roy, Roberts and Day's love for dogs. They started Karma's Corner, named after one of Roy's Australian Shepherds, which is an area of the shop where community members can drop off pet items to be donated to local rescues.
There's also a "Dogs of Tucson" wall — pay $20 to have a photo of your dog displayed. Half goes to the Pima Animal Care Center (PACC), the other half goes to printing services and the picture frame. Roberts hopes the entire wall will be filled one day.
Once the duo breaks even on the business, the plan is to donate proceeds to PACC after rent, utilities and products are paid for. Even though they aren't yet breaking even on the business, Roy says they're donating out of pocket to PACC each month because they want to remain true to their mission.
"What started as, 'Isn't this a cute idea?' turned into the giving spirit and compassion for animals," Roy says.
The business has been a hit so far. One dog came in and sniffed every single cookie before deciding on the one he wanted. Two friends came in with coffee, bought cookies for their dogs and simply enjoyed the space. One couple visited the shop on their first date, both their dogs in tow.
All three of the women behind the business have full-time jobs elsewhere, but Cones For Bones is their passion project and they're dedicated to making it work.
Of course, the three have their own dogs at home: Roy has two Aussies named Karma and Doodle; Roberts has an English bulldog named Maggie and a chihuahua named Max; and Day has a heeler named Bailey.
Ultimately, the goal is to provide a safe and fun space for pet parents to bring their best friends. In the long run, Roberts would love for Cones For Bones to open locations beyond Tucson to help rescues and pet organizations in other cities.
"I can't stress enough how passionate we are to save dogs and find homes for them," Roy says.
Cones For Bones, 6121 E. Broadway, is open 4-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; noon to 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; closed Monday. Ice cream is $4 for one scoop, $6 for two, $8 for three. For more information, visit the Cones For Bones website.