Sometimes you never quite know how you come across incredible individuals and their incredible stories. And our next feature is just that. It’s remarkable on so many levels. Right from being ingenious, to kind and touching and downright adorable!
This one is truly special in every sense and we are lucky to have stumbled across this in our endeavor to meet interesting folk!
Here’s introducing our May feature Yamika Damani and her ever so precious Pixie!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am Companion Dog Trainer, a student of world-renowned canine behaviorist, John Rogerson of The Northern Centre for Animal Behaviour, England. India’s top Canine Behaviour Counsellor, Shirin Merchant of Canines Can Care Dog Training Centre, also plays the role of mentor to me. Additionally, I’ve been instructed under Canadian Dog Trainer Caryn Charlie Liles of The Toronto Centre for Canine Education.
I started off my career as a dog trainer and then began to be interested in canine nutrition, which led to innovations in pet food and therefore brand of all-natural dog treats “Lickin’ Licious” came about.
What’s the story behind Clever Canine? Pixie is your brand ambassador. Was she the inspiration behind Clever Canine?
Pixie has inspired many aspects of Clever Canine. Right from the logo inspiration to flavor profiles for the ice creams and biscuits. The name Clever Canine came about because Pixie would respond so well to training exercises, she was truly a clever dog. When I started the business in 2015, it was only for dog training and counseling. That’s why I put her face on the logo with the nerdy looking glasses. 6 months in and I realized that I really enjoyed innovating in the kitchen for my girl Pixie – who did not have many options for natural food and treats in the market. In a deeper sense, Pixie’s perseverant attitude in life has inspired me to take the business to a different level, despite having been discouraged by people who didn’t believe that my products would ever even sell. All it took was one look at Pixie and I would ask her whether she thought I had a chance with the ice creams for dogs, and it was those eyes that gave me assurance and strength to endure through.
Tell us about Pixie.
Pixie is our beloved rescued Staffordshire Terrier. She is the bravest little pup we ever came across, with a heart of gold.
Clever Canine has a wide range of products. What are they?
Our updated list of products can be viewed here: We also make Celebration cakes and pup-cakes for doggie Birthdays:
What are your bestselling/most popular products?
Top sellers are:
Bacon ‘n’ Apple Frosty Treats
Grain Free Goldfish
Chicken Liver Crunchy Bikkies
Chicken Delight Cake
P.S. These also happen to be Pixie’s favorite choices 🙂
You mentioned you make the popsicles yourself. Take us through how you come up with recipes and flavor ideas?
The main premise behind all our products, including the Popsicles, is to use ingredients that are 100% safe for consumption for dogs. This means we make sure to use whole ingredients and do not add any harmful additives and chemicals in our production process, not even preservatives. The popsicles are made from a probiotic base and we only add real flavors like real bacon for our top-selling flavor Bacon ‘n’ Apple and fresh mango pulp for our seasonal favorite Mango popsicle. The inspiration for the Bacon ‘n’ Apple came from the idea of doing something sweet and savory – dogs just love that stuff! While other flavors like the Pink Salmon are more functional in terms of providing dogs with nutrition through omega 3 fatty acids from the salmon fish, which is great for their skin and coat.
Do you make the other treats as well?
Apart from the frozen Popsicle, we make grain free biscuits. And also other functional treats like peanut butter and coconut energy bars which we call Barkies, as well as chewy Milk Bones which make for a great treat high in Calcium for strong bones. With all that running and playing around, our doggies could definitely do with the extra nutrition 🙂
What did you and Pixie do on a fun day?
Pixie and I bond over short drives and exploring all the sights sounds and smells in new neighborhoods we drove over to. You’ve probably heard that doggies explore their world through their noses, and that’s just what Pixie loved to do. Living in an urban environment, this was a great activity to stimulate her senses. On days when we had fun at home, I would engage Pixie in activities such as puzzle games and trick training.
Please complete the following. Have you ever…
– Celebrated your pet’s birthday?
We had a combined party for Pixie to celebrate her 10 th birthday with her friend Shiro – a 1-year- old Golden Retriever. The birthday boy and girl were dressed up Pixie with wings and a tiara, Shiro with a tie and cape, like a Hogwarts student.
The party was held at Spoonful of Sugar (a pet friendly café). There were 12 doggie guests invited, plenty of snacks and cake to go around for the furries, like Liver Pate dip with Herbed Cheese Bikkies, Frosty Treats, Barkies and Peanut Butter n Carrot Cake. All the furry guests went home with Clever Canine goodie bags which included personalized Thank you cards from Pixie and Shiro.
– Purchased clothing or fashion accessories for your pet?
Sweaters for winter, Rain Coats and boots for monsoon and Bowties and fancy collars for summer.
– Taken your pet to a special animal-specific location, such as a park or a bakery?
We’ve traveled with Pixie – Pet friendly cafes in the city like Spoonful of Sugar, Red Fork and Sunnys. She’s visited Dog Park at the Elephant Pond, a lovely getaway. We’ve also done road trips and stayed at the following: Taj Vivanta Coorg, Destiny Farmstay in Coonoor, Flameback at Chikmanglur, Taj Banjara in Hyderabad and a friend’s cottage in Coonoor. Pixie loves hill stations and exploring new places.
– Left the TV or entertainment on for your pet?
Radio Indigo 91.9, Netflix and Jazz music
– Ordered take out or special human food for your pet?
Pixie is a gourmet doggie and has always got to try a little bit of human food, right from imported cheeses and cold cuts to poppadums and prasadham from the temple. Apart from that we’ve made special home-made meals for her free of salt and spices like Thai curry (consisting of coconut milk, basil, parsley and chicken), chicken liver steamed dim-sum and homemade tagliatelle in chicken broth.
How old was Pixie and tell us a little about her goofy or mischievous side? Is there any particular story of her you would like to share with us?
Pixie walked in to our lives (quite literally) sometime in June of 2007, she was about 8 months old at the time. Someone had left this young puppy on the streets to fend for herself, luckily we found her before it was too late. She’s been our loving family member ever since. Pixie’s personality is twofold – she had been a very naughty little pup and later a mature dog with the sweetest gazing eyes. As a pup she would trouble her companion, a black Labrador Retriever, his name was Pepper. The poor old fellow would tolerate her naughty ways, she would follow him around and bite at his ears and tail. This was her idea of fun play time.
Over the years, Pixie blossomed in to a patient lady who preferred going on long walks and snoozing through the day. But one thing never changed about her naughty ways,
even when she became a senior arthritic dog, the fact that she just loved to chase large rodents and cats. True to her breed, it is probably by far her most favorite activity, she would go ballistic every time she heard a little kitty meow through the window and bark and beg to be let out so that she can chase it around the compound. There was one benefit to this, the fact that she would chase away large rodents who would destroy our garden. This aspect of her personality also made her the perfect guard dog and made us feel safe at home.
Pixie was a big snorer at night, my god there were times when I had to toss a stuffed animal at her to quite her down – which never really helped the situation – just made her change positions and snore even louder!
Pixie has always been a model for the camera, never shies away – always ready to pose for the next click. Once she hears the camera shutters, she’s in to the posing mode. Such a poser that we made social media pages just to capture her antics and poses. Her Instagram page and FB posts really had an impact on her followers. I think you can agree with this too 🙂
This girl has endured so many hardships in her health ever since we got her, yet she has fought through it like a true warrior pup that she is yet we love her unconditionally. Pixie crossed over the rainbow bridge on April 29th 2017 at the age of 11. We miss her dearly.
What is the biggest challenge running your business?
I am a perfectionist when It comes to the creative aspects of my business – right from branding to product development – my role is key in these aspects yet I am constantly doubting myself. This has to a certain extent slowed me down a bit, but I suppose every entrepreneur has those pet peeves, which make you have sleepless nights and break your head over things – even though they may seem so small and irrelevant to others.
Where can our readers get a hold of Clever Canine products?
Tail Lovers Company Pet Stores, Bangalore
Cessna Lifeline Veterinary Clinic, Domlur, Bangalore
Spoonful of Sugar Café, Indiranagar, Bangalore
Toit Brewpub, Indiranagar, Bangalore (Frosty treats only)
The Permit Room, Magrath Road, Bangalore (Frosty treats only)
What are your future plans?
Taking Clever Canine products to other metro cities like Delhi/NCR and Mumbai. Adding to the range of frozen products.
As fellow creatives, entrepreneur and fellow dog lovers, we consider ourselves extremely lucky to have met this precious pupper. Her story has touched us and she has a very special space in our hearts.
Rest in Peace, love. ❤