CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Jonathan Stewart still vividly recalls how much work – and money – it took to landscape his family home, especially since young trees require digging a large hole for the root ball, and even then there’s no guarantee they will grow.
But that’s not the end of the story, because Stewart’s four dogs often left their “mark” when they would urinate on the tree trunks – a problem that took its toll over time, he said.
“Bark is like skin to a tree, and the dog urine can actually cause the bark to break open so that it is exposed to things like insects and diseases that can eventually kill it,” Stewart said.
“In my case, after three dead trees I knew something had to be done,” he said.
Despite extensive online research, Stewart couldn’t find an effective way to deal with his problem – for example, his dogs could jump over a barrier to get to the tree while other products (such as plastic bags to wrap around the trunk) either “weren’t secure enough or posed health issues to his trees,” he said.
“I wanted the trunk to still receive sunlight, wind and rain without worrying about insects and worms making a home underneath,” he said.
Soon, he was also wondering about other people facing this same problem – whether from family pets, or perhaps dogs left to roam on their own in communities.
Not about to give up on finding an answer, Stewart succeeded -but it didn’t come from someone else or off a shelf, because he designed his own device and is now marketing the Dawg Tree Pee Guard.
“As I really got into this, I realized that the only real solution was creating a 360-degree barrier with a fence, but it had to fit the trunk well enough so it would be secure while keeping the dogs out too,” he said.
That was a turning point, he said, adding that a year later he’s not only producing this new product – his company is Dawg Tree LLC – but is also in line to receive a patent for it.
“Because they have to do a lot of searching to make sure there’s nothing else that has already been patented, it takes time and money, plus can be stressful while you wait. But because I had already investigated so much, I was happy but not really truly surprised when there wasn’t this kind of existing product,” he said.
Ready to be used right out of the box, the device resembles the framework of an inverted umbrella, but with a bungee system on top to allow it to grow with trees, he said.
“I guess you could say it is deceptively simple, but what really matters is how well it works. It is the first tree protection device that offers a guard that goes fully around the tree,” he said.
“It works by stopping dogs of all sizes from placing their feet and hiking their leg close enough to send urine onto the tree. Like we say, it keeps the pee off the tree,” he said.
Interest in his new product is growing because it can be used by homeowners, businesses and parks as well as horticulturists to solve this doggy dilemma, he said, adding that he’s already visited some business shows and has been invited to others due to the growing commercial interest.
In addition, the company has been recognized by CityDog Magazine, GreenIndustry Pros, Capital Pet Expo, Super Pet Expo and TCI Magazine, he said.
Additional information can be found online at www.dawgtree.com.
Staff writer Jenni Vincent can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 131 or www.twitter.com/jennivincentwv.