Patting customers on the head and scratching them behind their ears is nothing unusual at Three Dog Bakery. The national chain has about 30 franchise locations nationwide, with Mark and Leanna Bodnar being the only franchise licensees in the Los Angeles area.

The Bodnars, avid dog lovers, opened their first Three Dog Bakery in 1999 in Old Town Pasadena and a second store last year in the Century City Shopping Center. Staff reporter Claudia Peschiutta talked with co-owner Mark Bodnar about the stores and what they offer their canine clientele.

"My wife and I were not famous but working actors here in Los Angeles for several years, and we were on the road with a show that took us through Kansas City. Out shopping one day with Christmas around the corner, we happened upon a bakery for dogs. Basically intrigued, we walked in and walked out $300 poorer, but with tons of goodies for our dog, our neighbors' dogs and friends' dogs. Our thought was, 'Forget our friends' Christmas presents. Let's just get stuff for their dogs.

"We inquired, while we were inside, if they had a store in California. They said, 'No.' Little light bulbs went off over our heads.

"The first store in Pasadena we opened January 30, 1999. Just six months ago, we opened a new location in the Century City Shopping Center.

"We offer all-natural, wholesome, fresh-baked treats for dogs. One of the most famous treats that we've got is called a 'Drooly Dreambar.' It is a peanut-butter flavored brownie frosted with a peanut-butter flavored low-fat yogurt frosting.

"The most popular items would probably be our barbecued ribs, which is garlic dough that is hand-basted in our homemade barbecue sauce. The main difference (between this and human food) is we leave out all of the stupid junk humans put in (their food). Anybody could eat this stuff.

"Our client base is so broad that we have people who make half a million dollars and down to children spending their allowance.

"People absolutely prefer us oodling over their dogs, as opposed to (oodling over) them.

"My favorite stuff is getting to see those regular dogs and people that come and they know me by name and I know them by name, and then we run into each other at the dog park. To me, that's my favorite part, getting to know people through their dogs.

"I can't imagine a better business than dealing with dogs because dog owners are never unhappy. Whenever they're with their dog, it's nothing but smiles."

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