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Sit. Stay. Forever.

by Rachel Louchen

For Steve Whitney his company Sit. Stay, Forever, featuring certified toxin-free animal beds and toys, was born out of tragedy.

A longtime animal lover, he fell hard for his sweet chocolate lab, Birch. A devoted companion, Birch quickly became an important part of Whitney's world and would often accompany him to work. When Birch was diagnosed with cancer at age five, Steve was devoted to caring for him and began to cook his dog food after discovering that -commercial dog food was sorely lacking in quality. Despite constant care from his owner and multiple surgeries, Birch passed away. On the day of his death, Whitney got a call from a good friend who told him that many dogs and cats were getting sick from various pet products. At first, Steve thought that meant food, but research showed it was actually the toys. “I was shocked. Here I was cooking for him and trying to do everything for him but he had a basket of toys that were toxic.

Now that he was aware of the poor quality of animal products, he wanted to find out exactly what .the problem was. His curiosity led him to the Hohenstein Institute in Berlin, the world's largest independent tester for chemical safety, which provided some ugly discoveries. “Animal products aren't regulated. For example, the tennis balls specifically for dogs are the worst things out there. I wish I had had this information when Birch was sick." Animal toys are filled with toxins, polymers and other chemicals that are released when animals chew or lick them, and can leach on to the pet’s fur when lying on its bed. Whitney knew other pet owners would want this informationand would want to know about safe alternatives.

Steve set out to make handcrafted, toxic-free, nonchemical products with materials made in the US. He began an extensive search for nontoxic fabrics and materials and spent a year studying safe practices before he created his first product. “The mill that makes our cotton is in the US and produces this fabric without genetic modification or pesticides. Even threads, zippers and the fill in my products are certified toxic-free."

His line includes toys and beds for both cats and dogs but the product of which he is most proud is the Bolster dog bed. Certified chemically safe, toxic-free, hypoallergenic and made from US-grown cotton without pesticides, the beds are stuffed with Eco-Fill made from water bottles that are collected and recycled in Upstate New York. They are wildly practical, super durable and can be machine-washed and dried. “I want them to be the most beautiful and safest product out there. The Bolster beds are very filled, I really stuff them to make sure the dog is supported and they come in a wealth of colors. When you touch them, you can tell. They're solid and not floppy, not like the mass-produced factory ones."

Sit. Stay. Forever is currently a small operation, where quality is key. “I set out to make the safest products out there. I manufacture them myself; I get the material, make the item by hand and then I sell it. There is no third party." The safety of animals is critical for him, and he wants to save pet parents from going through the heartbreak he went through with Birch. “If I had know about this when he was sick, I could have taken away the products. When people hear the story of Birch, and the theory behind the products, they always want to know more.. I know if I can get these products in front of people, they will understand their value in providing your pet with a safe life. I want to remove any of the concerns about the quality of their toys and beds."

You can order Sit. Stay. Forever products online or by calling 518.771.3202.