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For rising fifth graders Daniel Grant and Max Caponigro, the last few months have been a blur of flour, bacon bits, almond butter, chicken stock and other ingredients needed to make the perfect homemade dog treat.
Multiple times per week, the 10-year-old best friends from Milton spend hours in Daniel’s kitchen mixing batter, baking treats, labeling bags and hopping on their bikes to deliver orders to dog parents in the area.
What started as a way to keep busy at the start of coronavirus quarantine has turned into a thriving small business and $400 worth of donations to the Milton Food Pantry.
“I live next door to the food pantry, so we see it every day,” Daniel, a Tucker Elementary School student, said. “We know people don’t have enough food and we wanted to help.”
“We also wanted to pick a charity that would help with COVID, and the food pantry has been really busy,” Max added.
When the boys first came up with the idea, Max’s mom, Sue Caponigro, put a note in a neighborhood group chat asking if anyone was interested in buying a bag.
“A lot of people have dogs in my neighborhood and almost everybody with a dog bought one,” Max, a student at Dedham Country Day School, said.
Even people who didn’t have dogs made a purchase and asked Daniel and Max to donate the treats they bought to the local animal shelter.
Soon, the boys had their own email address dedicated to orders and were putting signs up on poles all over town. Orders have been consistently rolling in since, and the pair has learned the ins and outs of operating a small business.
“If you’re going to do something, like put up order forms, you have to be ready to follow through,” Max said of what he’s learned.
Of the money that comes in, Daniel, Max and the food pantry each gets 30 percent. The remaining 10 percent is for buying supplies.
“I learned you have to be responsible,” Daniel said. “Your parents won’t always pay for everything or do stuff for you.”
Dog Treats by Daniel and Max sells three types of biscuits: bacon, almond butter and chicken. The boys make a homemade batter and use silicone baking treats in the oven or a Sunbeam dog treat maker — they’ve had to buy three of them to keep up with the demand.
The treats sell for $4 per bag. Each bag either has four large treats or eight small ones.
The boys have made multiple donations to the Milton Food Pantry, totaling about $400 so far.
“Not that they haven’t done charitable things before, but I think it’s made a real impact for them to walk next door, see the lines of people and hand them a check,” Sue Caponigro said.
When asked if they were getting tired of making so many treats, Max and Daniel yelled one word in unison: “No!”