Teen Turns Her Special Connection With Animals Into A Successful Dog-Treat Business

By Kit Steinkellner

Today in wonderful news, Gracie Jagler, a Wisconsin teen who has Down Syndrome, is making headlines as she has turned her lifelong love for dogs into a successful family business. With the help of her parents, Gracie has built a dog treat mini-empire.

"Gracie's Dog Delights" are freeze-dried treats made out of ingredients such as turkey, chicken, beef liver, and lamb hearts, and processed without any additives. The business has grown from a small operation in the Jagler family living room to a biz that fills hundreds of orders across the United States.

At 19, Gracie "decided she was just done with school," her father, Republican member of the state Assembly John Jagler, explained to the Daily Press. Gracie's cognitive abilities mean she must live at home and has limited verbal skills, which limits the number of jobs for which she can apply. Still, her father just couldn't see his daughter "...unloading boxes at Kwik Trip at 5 in the morning when shipments come in."

The lightbulb moment came when Gracie went to work for Glenn Roberts, owner of local Glenn's Market, processing orders for Glenn's freeze-dried dog treat business. Gracie's dad was inspired by his daughter's new vocation, and together the family started their own dog-treat business, which in under a year, has become a Midwestern staple for dog lovers and has garnered thousands of customers across the country.

The Jaglers continue to dream big. It's not enough for them to have a thriving business, the family is committed to using their good fortune to give back. Their goal is to partner with Watertown High School, Gracie's alma mater, and start a vocational program where high school students could work for the business and gain on-the-job training.

An unexpected benefit of their new business has been getting to connect with other families who both love dogs and have family members with Down Syndrome, and are inspired by the Jaglers' story.

"There's these families who say, this is great, I wish we could tap into our child's passion when they get older," Jagler told the Daily News. "That has just been so cool."

We are so glad that Gracie's love of dogs has not only sparked a super-cool side hustle for her family, but also is inspiring families across the country to want to work together as a team to support their kids with Down Syndrome and their dreams. It really doesn't get more inspiring than that.