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Talking Huxley & Kent Dog Toys with Founder Robin Kershner

We can’t toast champagne with our dogs, so Huxley & Kent created the next best thing: ‘Chompagne’ plush dog toys that look like the bottle of your favourite Brut.

With plush designs of hot sauce bottles, tequila, chocolate bars, beer, and more, Huxley & Kent founder Robin Kershner and her team use their sense of humour to come up with ideas for parody toys for cats and dogs.

“What we have found is that people really like to humanize their pets by passing on what they like to their pets in the form of a toy,” she says.

Huxley & Kent Dog Toys Are Funny and Well-Made

Inspiration can come from anywhere.

“Ideas can come from what we know is popular. Unicorns are very cute and big right now, or anything birthday-themed. The birthday community of pet owners is crazy popular, so we try to feed back into that by producing new birthday-themed toys every year” says Kershner. With the help of Huxley & Kent, you can have a birthday party for your pet made complete by a plush cake slice toy, patterned bow-ties, and sparkly party hats that fit dogs and cats of all sizes and are comfortable for them to wear.

But it’s not all about the novelty of having a toy that looks exactly like a bag of Frito’s or an iced cupcake. Huxley & Kent plush toys feature an engineered design called PowerPlush®, which strengthens the toy with an extra layer of durable mesh fused on the inside. Combined with reinforced seam tape, Huxley & Kent plush toys hold up their shape to even the scrappiest of pets.

“When we get letters from our customers it’s usually because one of our toys is their dog’s favourite and it’s holding up so well,” says Kershner, who knows how frustrating it is to have a toy shredded to pieces within a few minutes of play.

“These [toys] are well-made, they are safe and non-toxic, and we use a certain type of plush called LEESA, which is super-soft and almost feels like velvet, so it won’t scratch the dog’s teeth or irritate their gums or tongue.”

Focusing On Comfort & Safety

As a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, Kershner has for many years made the comfort of the dog her focus in the products she designs.

Kershner got her start in the pet industry in 1996 as the founder of Fox & Hounds Ltd., an accessories brand inspired by her search for the perfect collar for her Dalmation. She began making collars, eventually expanding to toys and apparel, before selling the business in 2007 and venturing into Huxley & Kent in 2012.

Along with novelty plush toys, Huxley & Kent manufactures harnesses, bandanas, ruffs, and the full line of birthday-themed bow-ties and hats. Kershner’s pets continue to spark a sense of innovation that is translated into Huxley & Kent consumer products. A scary experience with her Chihuahua Louie, for example, is what motivated her to design harnesses.

“One day when I was walking him on a harness he backed right out of the harness and I was standing there with an empty harness and a dog looking up at me on a busy street and my heart almost just sank,”

“Fortunately nothing bad happened, but it was at that point I went home and said to my husband, ‘Louie just backed right out of this harness. We need to make a harness that’s better than that.’ So he came up with this idea for the Back Out Brake”.

Back Out Brake design technology includes two sliders on either side of the webbing which adjusts to provide a secure fit, reducing the dog’s ability to back out of the harness.

Other comfort and security features in Huxley & Kent products include SnugFit stretchy elastic bands in the hats and crowns, which help keep it in place on the pet’s head. This gentle design provides that extra bit of coziness for the pet, who may not even notice she’s wearing a hat at all. Cue the photo-op!

Giving Back with the Huxley & Kent Rescue Fund

Pet brands that are led by people who want the best for all animals are often closely engaged in supporting non-profits and causes. Through the Huxley & Kent Rescue Fund, which Kershner says is “the favourite part” of her work, partnered retailers have the opportunity to participate in a monthly draw to have a donation pledged to the non-profit of their choice, such as a local animal shelter or rescue group.

“We thought at first we could pick a charity every month, but then decided it would be better to work with our retailers to make sure that the funds get into the hands of charities that our retailers work with,” says Kershner, “That way we know the donation is going to the right place and the retailer will get some good feedback from the charity organization, hopefully. We know how hard-working these charities are.”

Kershner also fosters dogs and understands how elaborate a process it is to place an animal in a foster home. She is in awe of the work involved within networks of volunteers, including veterinarian volunteers, to make it happen. Contributing to organizations such as animal rescues on the local level is important to Kershner, and the Rescue Fund allows Huxley & Kent to connect directly to those organizations that partner retailers can identify as the most in need of support.

 It’s a smart way to give back, but smart ideas seem to come easy to Kershner and her team. Just look at the range of clever and innovative toys & accessories Huxley & Kent has to offer dog and cat owners – and sign us up for Yappy Hour Margaritas.

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