One of the great things about attending BlogPaws is getting to know the person behind a company. When I met Shanelle Johnson last month at the conference, we happened to be sitting at the same breakfast table. We struck up a conversation, and I didn’t know at the time that I had her company’s product sitting in one of my swag bags, compliments of the Cat Writer’s Association (CWA).
Shanelle and her husband Scott Johnson started their company Wittle LLC, with their product, Door Buddy, launching in October 2015. While they have a great and unique product, what also struck me about their company is that they are committed to giving back.
A conversation with Shanelle
What was the inspiration behind Door Buddy?
Door Buddy is really another one of those textbook “necessity is the mother of invention” stories. It all started one night in June 2014 when my nine-month-old daughter was having a party playing in the cat’s food bowl in the laundry room, when I thought she was playing with her toys behind me in the kitchen.
Even though it was the funniest thing to my husband, we knew that the party could have easily turned to tragedy because of the choking hazard. I knew I could not let it happen again, so I started searching online for something that would not only keep her out of the laundry room, but that would also let my cats in.
The only solution that we could find to solve both of these problems was a baby gate and that is what we decided to get. The baby gate did work, but not only did it cost a small fortune, it was also a pain to use since the laundry room is one of the most frequented rooms in our house. Not to mention our 28 lb Maine Coon simply refused to jump his big butt over the gate.
Needless to say, we used the gate for about a week when we decided we had to come up with an easier way. Our brains went into overdrive. Our very first homemade solution worked like a charm. We knew in our hearts that this was something that could help others in a similar predicament. So, after a year and a half of further concepting, prototyping, testing, and a lot of stressing, we introduced Door Buddy to the public.
Will you talk about the importance of giving back?
My husband and I grew up on opposite sides of the world, but we grew up with almost identical ethics and a clear understanding that the joy of giving back far outweighs receiving. We both grew up with many pets, and we both know firsthand how much excitement and happiness pets can bring to someone’s life. When we launched Wittle LLC, we knew that we wanted to make giving back a fundamental part of our company. We both believe that as small business entrepreneurs we have a responsibility to help create a better future for the children and pets of tomorrow. Because “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people [and businesses], can transform the world.”― Howard Zinn
What made you select Pet Partners?
When we set out on our search for an organization to partner with, we were looking specifically for one that is making a difference in the lives of both people and pets. We had many discussions and did a lot of research, but we finally found one that we felt was a perfect fit. The organization we selected was Pet Partners out of Bellevue, Washington.
We chose Pet Partners for numerous reasons, but the most important being the profound impact they are making in the lives of people and pets through the healing effects of the interactions between them. What makes it so special is that a lot of the animals that become Pet Partners Therapy Animals have been adopted from shelters. Some come from extremely abusive pasts, but with the love, care and instruction of amazing adopters and handlers, these animals make the most compassionate and kind therapy animals.
We love reading the Pet Partners stories, like the story of the dog Charlie that visits Gwen and brings her happiness and distraction from her day-to-day life in hospice each Tuesday; and the story of Buddy the therapy dog that loves to listen to the children read to him at the local elementary school. These are just two of the thousands of therapy dogs, cats, horses and even llamas that are bringing comfort and joy to children in the hospital, veterans with PTSD, seniors living with Alzheimer’s, people with disabilities, along with so many more.
The impact that these amazing animals and their handlers are making with the help of Pet Partners is truly spectacular. We are so happy to be able to give back to Pet Partners by donating $1 for every Door Buddy sold on our website.
I hear you have a rescued cat!
Yes, our sweet Coco is a Lynx Point Siamese. About two months after Scott and I got married, we just felt like our house was not a home yet, so we decided to make a trip to the Shelby County Humane Society. As we were looking through the shelter, it seemed like all of the cats were trying to grab our attention except for Coco, who was tucked away in the back corner. She just looked fearful and was literally shaking. When we finally got her attention and she looked at us with those beautiful blue eyes, we knew she was the one. We don’t know all of the details of her pre-adoption life, but we don’t think it was very happy and loving, as it took her months to really settle down. But, she finally came around. She is such an amazing, kind and loving cat and she is wonderful with our little girls.
Anything else we should know about your company?
We launched Door Buddy in October 2015 and it certainly has been an amazing journey. Scott and I both love working together as a team and it has been exciting to see our relationship grow through this process as well.
One thing that we both felt very strongly about since the beginning was the fact that we wanted to produce Door Buddy right here in the USA. So many companies outsource abroad to reduce costs, but we have chosen to keep the production and assembly local so we can have a greater impact on the community around us. We have already started adding team members to help on the production side of things as well. Even though we are a small family owned company right now, we have big dreams and ambitions.
We are very excited and passionate about giving back and creating a better future for the children and pets of tomorrow. Our little company slogan says it best… we are “A Wittle Company on a Big Mission.” …LOL…
Will you share a fun fact with us?
A fun fact is that Scott and I are both Southern. He is a Southern boy from Alabama and I am from the Southern Hemisphere. I grew up in South Africa and came to the USA on a golf scholarship after high school. Scott and I met in our sophomore year in college, and as they say, the rest is history. Oh yeah, and he is very proud that he beat me at a game of golf one time.
It’s Giveaway Time!
Shanelle and Scott have kindly allowed us to give away a Door Buddy to one lucky reader! U.S. residents only. Void where prohibited. If you are an international entrant, you can choose a U.S. friend or rescue/shelter to have the item sent to. The giveaway closes on July 28, 2016 at noon Pacific.
If you’re unable to click above, please click here to enter the giveaway.
To learn more about Door Buddy, you can visit their website, Facebook and Amazon.
Disclosure: Although Shanelle and Scott did not provide us with their product directly, we did receive Door Buddy for free from CWA. We only share information we feel would be relevant to readers.
Have you ever needed something like Door Buddy to keep babies or dogs out of your cat’s area?
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43 thoughts on “Giving Back with Door Buddy (and a giveaway!)”
I love the idea behind the Door Buddy. I know a certain room in my house that could use one thanks to a certain pup with an affinity for cat food. I also love that they donate some of each purchase to a good cause. Thank you for sharing this with us!
There probably will some dogs who are really disappointed the won’t be able to snoop in the litter box anymore!! Haha!!
Ha, very true!
Don’t have a kitty, but I love your Header Photo!
Mommy came home with two in her swag bags, so we won’t enter. It was great learning more about the company. And of course we always love hearing about humans with rescued cats!
Dat sounds really cool. And da company sounds great. Fanks fur sharin’.
Dezi and Raena
What a great idea, and it supports such a wonderful cause! I also love that they are keeping production local. Love it!
What a great product idea! I love it when people turn cool ideas into new products.
Heh! I’m not quite sure what it is but I don’t think I need it. I can open all the doors in the condo all by myself. It does sound like great people running a great company.
Yeah, no babies or doggies in your house, CK. I can only imagine what THAT would be like if there were! :-)
We love this story! No babies or dogs at our house (maybe a fat cat or two, if you listen to our Mom). But we can see where this invention would be greatly beneficial to so many others. We LOVE the story of Coco. What a sweetheart she is!
This product is a great idea – saw it at BlogPaws too. I could have used it when I first got my dog. Anything I tried he could A. push open or B. I had to climb over. I ended up with a baby gate too and learned how to climb over (cursing of course).
We saw the Door Buddy in our BP swag bag but we haven’t used it yet. Right now, there isn’t a need for us to use it, but we think it’s a great idea.
I needed this when I had a multi Pet household! We were always using baby gates. It does get old climbing over those gates, especially when you’re carrying an overflowing laundry basket!
LOVE this background. With everything going on after the conference I didn’t get a chance to really look at all the swag – but the door buddy caught my immediately. My niece and nephew both had issues with food allergies – beyond the basic hazards of choking. When they stayed with me, the best I could do was keep the door to my touching so Bear could have his privacy and food to himself (we assumed the allergans were probably in his food) but could still come out if he wanted to. This would’ve saved us a lot of stress! One day my nephew saw Bear lying on my bed through the crack and was in there trying to grab him before my SIL and I could get there. So there was that angle too. Bear’s not a biter or scratcher when he wants to escape, but it could’ve turned into a bad situation easily.
We think this is an excellent invention and ideal for households with cats and dogs and children.
Great interview! We won a swag bag from Savannah and this was one of the prizes, I am going to give it to my niece because they have an 8 month old who is really getting around as well as 2 cats and a dog.
We don’t have cats but this looks great for people with multi-pet households. Although I assume this does not work when your dog is smaller than the cat!
What a wonderful story and company…………anyone who has a little one could certainly use this – OR even if they have a dog who is nosy and needs to be kept out of a room but cats can still use the narrow opening to come and go. Brilliant idea. Hope they have much success!
Hugs, Pam and Sam
I love our Door Buddy and also really enjoyed meeting Scott and Shanelle. I had no idea she was originally from South Africa – how cool is that!
I know! I asked her about that since I didn’t hear an accent when we met. :-)
That Door Buddy is very cool but we don’t have any off-limit doors here, except the ones that go outside.
This is such a great idea. It is perfect for cats ☺
Its a great way to keep the door partially open, we don’t have a cat (wish I did) so am gonna wish good luck to all those that enter
Very interesting idea
I think this is the bestest thing EVER!! As a dog trainer, I often encounter dogs who snack from the litter box, and clients who are completely grossed out by it! This would be a wonderful contraption for them!!
I love the idea behind the Door Buddy and that they give back to Pet Partners! We also got a Door Buddy at BlogPaws but haven’t used it yet. We have a dog who loves to go snooping in the litter box, however our dog is the same size as the cats so the Door Buddy unfortunately wouldn’t keep her out of the laundry room where the litter boxes are. I know it works well for others though!!
What a great idea and product. I love that Shanelle and Scott came up with their own idea to address the issue, and that it’s helping others now. :)
AHA! This would be amazing on our bedroom door at night. Rooster can come and go as he pleases without meowing at all hours. Love it!
I have to start off by thanking the Door Buddy folks at Wittle LLC for giving back to Pet Partners! My Husky Icy and I are a Pet Partners therapy dog team. It means a lot that they’ve chosen to give back to this wonderful organization who helps so many people in need, even after widely publicized tragedies they are often on the scene with therapy animal teams helping victims get through the pain. Door Buddy looks like a great product, I would have loved this for my cat to keep the dogs away from her food & litter box! It’s such a streamlined and effective design. Thanks for sharing this.
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
How cool that you and Icy work with Pet Partners! I like that even though they are in Alabama, they really did their research and geography didn’t matter to them. (Btw, I grew up a couple hours away from Bellevue!)
Door Buddy looks like a great product (sadly my cat Nala passed away last year but might work for Kilo the Pug to stop him going places he shouldn’t- he is like a naughty toddler sometimes) Love that they give back to Pet Partners as seems like an amazing organization.
Door Buddy is a really cool product. I love the simplicity of it! I also got one from the conference and I plan to give it to someone at my local rescue. They will be able to get a lot of great use out of it! I love that Door Buddy is giving back too! :)
I’m bummed that I didn’t get to meet the inventors at BlogPaws, but I’ve already been scouting the product based on one of your mentions on social (a few weeks ago). :) We have a baby gate with a cat door in it, but it’s not foolproof (for dogs, that is, not babies). Love that they give to rescue!
Such a wonderful idea, and how great that they give back!
What a great invention! I’ll have to keep it in mind if I ever get a cat. There is no doubt in my mind that Echo would try to eat cat litter and food!
I wish my dog was bigger than my cat! I have often thought of making something like that, but the dog and cat are approximately the same size.
Since we got some extra swag at BlogPaws, mom came home with three of those! I loved that I was able to give two away in my BlogPaws Swag Giveaway. The one we kept will come in very handy when mom has those woofies over for sleepovers!
Woofie sleepovers? How fun!
Umm… Not really for me!
I don’t have a need for this but it is a fantastic idea. I love that you showed us how it is used!
What a great product idea! I love that they make it right here in the USA and that they give back. Just awesome! And Coco is so adorable!
Thank you to everyone for your wonderful comments and especially to the Three Chatty Cats for this really awesome post and allowing us to tell our Story. It really means a lot to us to hear all the amazing support. :)