As an owner of four rescue dogs, I hear a lot about what the team at Tito’s Handmade Vodka does to help dogs in distress. When the opportunity was presented to interview Tito’s distillery dog, Taki, I jumped at the chance.
Tito and his crew have an inherent connection with their canine counterparts. Since the beginning, they have been committed to the animals that have come into their lives and others. Strays that come on to the property are cared for and made available for adoption. They call them “distillery dogs” and that makes them popular with potential adopters. Many of them stay and thrive alongside the crew at their distillery and office.
Here are the questions I had for Taki. (I speak “Dog.”)
Mike: Taki, you and Tito’s coworkers sponsor Yappy Hours all around the country. Can you tell us a little about these and how our dog-loving F&B readers can be involved?
Taki: Ruff! Of course – this is one of my favorite topics! A Yappy Hour is a happy hour that both humans and pets can enjoy. Furry or not, we all like to let our hair (and fur) down. Tito’s Yappy Hours are special because they give back a portion of proceeds to a local pet nonprofit in need of some extra bones. Yappy Hours are only part of how we help our four-legged friends; we have a whole program called Vodka for Dog People. The program helps pet nonprofits through events like Yappy Hours, matching donations and an online shop. Each year we help about 1,000 animal welfare nonprofits in over seven countries, partnering on over 700 events. From Austin Pets Alive and Emancipet right in our own backyard, to the ASPCA, we partner with many organizations to help pets in a variety of ways!
I love to hear about dog-loving F&B readers! If you are looking for partners for a Yappy Hour, check out our donation link for more information.
Mike: On your website, Vodka for Dog People, I see you have all kinds of swag available: toys, t-shirts, leashes, bowls and more. Can you tell us about how it helps various organizations such as CORE and Emancipet, among others?
Taki: Bark! Boy, I love talking about swag! The chew toy is my personal favorite, but we have lots of goodies for pets and their humans. The best part is that net proceeds from sales of all the swag on our website go to Emancipet, a nonprofit whose mission is to make veterinary care affordable and accessible to all pet owners.
I’m a hound for the holidays so I am extra excited to share that exclusively for the season, we have limited-edition Tito’s Holiday Sweaters for both pets and their humans. The net proceeds from the sweaters (priced at $15-25) go straight to a selection of Tito’s nonprofit partners, and the buyer selects the nonprofit, including CORE, they’d like to support this holiday season. So not only will you look festive but you’ll also be helping others, and we think that’s pawsome.
Mike: National Dog Week was this past September; Will Judy, editor and publisher of Dog World magazine, started it in 1928. How was it celebrated at the distillery?
Taki: Woof! A huge part of National Dog Week is celebrating pups by showing us kindness and respect and spreading that message of care. Through our Vodka for Dog People program, we work on that year round. This year we celebrated with the usual: belly rubs, long runs around the distillery and lots of kisses from our humans. Many of us come to the office with our humans, so sometimes every week feels like National Dog Week for us!
Mike: How many other dogs hang around the distillery with you and what does typical day consist of for a “distillery dog”?
Taki: Howl! I’m the one and only official distillery dog at the moment, but usually employees bring in their pups so I get to play with about three or four dogs at the distillery each day. We also have cows here! The distillery has also been a home for horses and cats, and we are looking to add some alpacas and sheep. We are very excited for these new friends. We also have pets over at the marketing office.
We have so much fun at the distillery! I like to start my day collecting belly rubs around the office and visiting my fellow co-woofers. Some of the other dogs take work seriously and have assigned themselves jobs like security or greeter. But we always make time to run around and help humans take some breaks. Between the dog jobs, having playmates and being with our people, we all have a good time!
Mike: What would you like to say to Tito and his wonderful staff for all they have done for you and your pals in need across the country?
Taki: Wags and smiles! Me and the other distillery dogs would love to say “thanks a million” for all that you do! The distillery is a home to us and we’re so proud of all the amazing work they’ve done for our furry friends all over the country and beyond! I’d also like to urge all your dog-loving F&B readers to get involved – whether it’s attending a Yappy Hour, volunteering at a local shelter or buying some swag to support pet nonprofits, it all adds up.