Posted at 11:54 a.m., Feb. 17, 2015


Business is booming:

Customers of all shapes and sizes enjoy what the Cheyenne Dog Food Company has to offer.

Photo by Erica Klimt

Doggie Do-gooders

City welcomes new independent
pet food retailer

The story of how Leonard Bowman came to Cheyenne is definitely one for the books. Always an avid lover of dogs, Bowman never could have imagined what would ultimately come to change his fate.

Bowman, who declared himself as “breed-specific” and partial to Rottweilers, had a very active business life. He traveled quite often while living in Texas, and it was important to him to have peace of mind that his dogs were being fed good food; their boarding facility was top of the line, and they were happy because they would be boarded about one week a month.

After switching to a new type of dog food, his dog Elijah Blue became ill after only two feedings. Bowman took Elijah to the vet after discovering it had the symptoms of a kidney infection, and the veterinarian prescribed antibiotics.

The following morning, he attempted to feed his Rottweilers only to discover they refused to eat the food. On a hunch, Bowman took the food back to the feed store and asked the clerks if they had any previous problems with that specific type of food. While Bowman was waiting for them to check, a fax came through to the store for a recall of that exact food.

Bowman’s vet had done some research and found no specific reason for the recall. But once Bowman returned home, both of his Rottweilers were showing the same symptoms as Elijah previously had. Both dogs were diagnosed with complete renal (kidney) failure.

A few days later, the food company had released information about a minor ingredient in the food purchased from China that had purposefully been contaminated with melamine (a type of plastic). Bowman was personally and emotionally affected by the pet food recalls of 2007.

“We don’t know how many tens of thousands of pets died since the vets were diagnosing them with kidney infections,” Bowman said. Thankfully, all three of his dogs pulled through the poisonings with flying colors.

After Bowman retired and began to travel, his desire to own a small business began to grow. He met Diane Hamar, the owner of a dog bakery in Georgetown, Texas, and was introduced to the boutique aspect of independent dog food retail stores. She taught him all kinds of nutritional information for dogs, which is when Bowman decided he wanted to open a nutritional dog/cat food store with the best food and treats available.

Having a business degree in one hand and a finance degree in the other, Bowman knew exactly what he was looking for. His No. 1 requirement was demographics. He wanted to find a city in which he could actually enjoy living.

Second was economics. Bowman, who knew healthy pet food came at a higher cost, was looking for a financially stable economy that could afford such benefits. And, last but not least, he wanted a community with little to no competition. After the pet food recall, healthy pet food specialty stores have popped up overnight.

After a far and wide search for the perfect location in the perfect city, Bowman found the old San Dong restaurant on Pershing Boulevard where he has created a unique and friendly small business. Cheyenne Dog Food Company sells only items made with human-grade ingredients in human-grade kitchens.

“I don’t sell anything in my store that I wouldn’t feed to my dogs myself,” Bowman said.

Bowman has also managed to include a top-quality, self-service dog wash complete with six different sized bathing stations and custom-made dog shammy dryers.

One of the store’s features is Bowman keeps allergy records on file and will order specific food to fit a pet’s nutritional needs.

While renovating, Bowman volunteered at the Cheyenne Animal Shelter, became a foster parent for Black Dog Animal Rescue and was very encouraged by how tight-knit Cheyenne is. He has even made a habit of taking Laramie County Community College students with an interest in dog care under his wing and given them a hands-on career experience.

Bowman wanted to create this business so the residents of Cheyenne may have the same piece of mind Bowman himself has reacquired.

Cheyenne Dog Food Company website