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Fetchstix Dog Toys | Only in New England

Fetchstix Dog Toys | Only in New England
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Photo/Art by Michael Piazza
When we first heard about Fetchstix, the initial question that came to mind was: “Is this an example of Yankee ingenuity or a sign of the apocalypse?” Wagatha’s, a small company in Manchester Center, Vermont, that produces organic dog biscuits, has started selling bundles of maple sticks as boutique dog toys for $12.95 a pop, and–we were shocked to discover–people are buying them. We took the question right to the source.

“It depends on the day,” chuckles Norm Levitz, one of Wagatha’s cofounders.

“I don’t think that it’s a sign of the apocalypse yet,” chimed in Neal Reilly, his business partner. “It’s a trilogy. We have the sticks now. We’re coming out with fall foliage in a can next year, and the following year we’re going to do fresh Vermont air in a can.”

We’re pretty sure he was joking about the last two, but it’s hard to tell. Norm and Neil keep their tongues so firmly in their cheeks that it would take minor surgery to remove them. Anna Dibble, a local artist and the third co-inventor, added to the cheekiness by creating a fully illustrated user’s manual, included in every bundle, that explains (in painful detail) the correct way to throw a stick. It even has a technical support line, which is Anna’s home number.

“I get two kinds of calls,” she says. “They either call up late at night and are a little loaded and think it’s hilarious, or they’re people who say their dogs love the sticks, but they’re worried about the toxicity. Are their dogs going to get sick from chewing on these sticks?” No, she explains calmly; they’re sticks.

Over the last two years, Wagatha’s has sold thousands of Fetchstix around the country. As you might expect, they don’t do very well in Vermont, but sticks are rare commodities in a lot of places. “We sold a surprising number of these in Las Vegas,” Norm explains. “They don’t even have trees there.”

Fetchstix are also wholesaled to distributors. One company’s reps insisted on testing the product before placing their order, though it’s unclear what they thought they might find. “It throws like a stick; it has bark like a stick,” Norm jokes. “People have gotten so removed from anything natural for their animals. I think it throws them off.”

“It’s God’s original dog toy,” Neil says. “How do you get any better than a stick?” He pauses for a moment, then adds, quietly, “With instructions.”

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Justin Shatwell


Justin Shatwell


Justin Shatwell is a longtime contributor to Yankee Magazine whose work explores the unique history, culture, and art that sets New England apart from the rest of the world. His article, The Memory Keeper (March/April 2011 issue), was named a finalist for profile of the year by the City and Regional Magazine Association.
Updated Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

One Response to Fetchstix Dog Toys | Only in New England

  1. Debra M. Caldwell January 26, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    I think that it such a quaint idea, that I would buy them for a friends fortheir pets, they need gifts too! My best friend loves her dog so much, that she treats him like a human, (oh! that’s me), but she loves he dog as much as I do, and I certainly would buy them for my dog, it would save some much not having to replace all the buttons, he keeps chewing off my clothes.
    My next question, is and whya hasn’t some silly person asked if they come in other flavors, but centainly not me!!!

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