THE START OF A CRAZY ADVENTURE
On a cold day of February in Montreal, Phil stumbles on an intriguing study by the UN suggesting that insect protein might be the solution to many of our food supply challenges (!) The arguments are so compelling, and the solution seems so logical—he can’t shake the idea off his mind. A few days later during a hockey game, he shares his readings with his best friend Paul and brother Mat, who both quickly decide to jump on board. The trio meets around a beer in June 2014 to brainstorm ideas, and being dog owners faced with the perpetual challenge of feeding allergic pups with sensitive stomachs, they decide to explore this novel protein’s potential for a hypoallergenic—and sustainable—diet.
On January 31st 2015, the guys officially register the company that will become Wilder Harrier. They experiment with dog cookie baking in Phil’s kitchen, burning most batches. After a few months of kitchen struggles, they resolve to get help from someone with actual knowledge of dog treat recipes, and hire Serge Boutet, an experienced animal nutritionist, as consultant. Serge quickly helps them develop an actual dog biscuit recipe that doesn’t result in a pile of ashes, putting an end to the baking troubles. That Fall, under the brand ‘BugBites’, their cricket powder dog biscuits hit the shelves of Montreal pet stores for the first time.
After a few months on the market, the brand BugBites seems to confuse many consumers—“Will these biscuits sooth my dog’s itchiness from bug bites?” “Hmm not really, no…” The three guys go back to the drawing board, and re-launch their cricket protein dog biscuits under Wilder Harrier in November 2016 (Wilder for their nature of challenging the status quo, Harrier for the English hound dog breed).
Wilder Harrier introduces another alternative protein to its offering, seaweed—the company launches a new line of dog biscuits made with organic Canadian wakame and kelp. Through this line, a successful partnership is born with Montreal-based juice manufacturer LOOP to repurpose their leftover fruit & veggie pulp into wholesome dog treats. WH also expands its line of cricket dog treats to small training bites.
The brand goes coast to coast—it successfully makes its way into pet stores and vet clinics of Ontario, Western Canada and the Maritimes. Later that year, Wilder Harrier transitions from a dog treat-only brand, to a complete pet nutrition company, by launching radically innovative dental sticks made with zeolites and probiotics, as well as announcing its long awaited dehydrated dog food.