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Jen Kirby owner of Piggyback Treats and her founding partner Candy the lab pose in front of a river

Jennifer Kirby

Chef, Founder & CEO

Resorts, hotels, restaurants, bakeries, wedding cakes, catered dinners, private homes and private yachts - I bring over twenty years of professional experience across all aspects of the culinary industry into the creation of each of our treats.  I draw inspiration from all around me, and my focus is always on finding new ways to reduce waste - food waste in particular. Hands on, true sustainability, never-give-up work ethic, creating objects of great value using unvalued materials, being part of community, creating and maintaining strong relationships, developing and thinking outside the box, these values challenge me with plans for expansion, impact and longevity.  During my years working as the chef onboard private yachts, I took the opportunity to watch, listen and learn about what the owners were doing to achieve a lifestyle with such luxuries.  They never stopped, they allowed themselves to think differently, provided a needed service and jobs within their communities, and they surrounded themselves with a powerful team.  They were normal people who made thoughtful decisions while allowing themselves to think bigger than most!


I've had pets, and really just animals, my entire life.  I grew up on a small farm in rural New York State, helping to install fencing, dig post holes, cut down trees, chop firewood, bale hay, clean stalls, and feed animals 10 times as big as I was.  My dad was a marine corp veteran and a retired police officer.  My mom was a church secretary.  As a child, I was shy and nervous in social situations.  Looking back now, I suspect it was because I didn't have an identity of my own.  I was the child of a farmer - I had nothing else other than that - and it was hard work.  


When I left my little rural town for culinary school in the big city of Pittsburgh, it took only a matter of about, oh I'd say, about a day, until I found my happy place!  I became outgoing almost overnight!  I could me be!  I made friends with everyone I met, impressed my chef instructors with my work ethic and determination to make everything perfectly.  I dug in and got right to work, and I did every assignment well.  I had to!  My marine corp father always said "do it right the first time", and I took those words to heart!


I've always had an affinity for nutrition.  I took a nutrition course in college, and again years later when I was working as the Assistant Pastry Chef at a hotel in Houston, TX.  I love learning how foods affect our bodies, and the bodies of the animals we love and feed every day.  But hold on for a minute, is it really about feeding?  As a modern dog-mom, I can tell you with certainty, it isn't about feeding - slopping whatever's easy and cheap into a bowl that gets washed maybe once every other week - no, it's about nourishing.  We feed the ones we love nourishing foods - and sometimes a cheat snack from time to time!  Over my years as a dog-mom and dog food business owner, I've spent thousands of hours researching pet nutrition - how best to provide nourishment, which will in turn provide long life, for the ones we hold closest to our hearts.  


I'm so honored to be providing your pets with a long menu of items that I've spent time researching, preparing with my own hands and offering to my own pets.  It brings me so much joy to know that the work I do is good work, benefiting not just the animals we love, but the ones who caretake over them.  Sending love to you and your animals!  I hope to meet you each one day!
A favorite quote of mine - “When you focus on what you’ve left behind, you’ll miss what lies ahead!”, from the fun movie; Ratatouille.  
Holding this mindset gives me strength to face new, sometimes uncertain situations, while moving forward with excitement!

Darwin the beagle mix rides on Candy the lab's back in their signature Piggyback Treats pose.  Candy holds a bag in her mouth

Candy & Darwin

The Real Dogs From The Logo

Jen fell in love with Candy when she saw her in a pet store (we know it isn't good to support shops that sell puppies!) back before she knew the negative aspects of shopping for a pet in a store.  At 10 weeks old, she was on sale, as she was no longer as tiny as the 8 week old puppies that surrounded her.  She was sitting in the corner of her pen, looking so, so sad.  The staff said her brother had been sold earlier that morning, so she was all alone.  Jen always pictured herself with a chocolate lab named "Candy". When she saw the sweet face on this little baby, she knew that it was her CandyGirl, and they went home together without wasting a moment of time.


Darwin came into Jen's life when her sister, Katy, adopted him on a whim.  Katy had been shopping at a pet store in Boston for a Christmas present for her niece, Candy's second Christmas, and this adorable, tiny dog caught her attention.  Darwin was just a puppy, and had been found living on the streets of Pasadena CA, where he was picked up and brought to a kill shelter.  Thankfully, a couple visiting from Boston rescued him, along with others from that shelter, and brought them back to the rescue organization that they run in Boston.  


One day, back when the company was in its conceptual phase, Darwin was leaping from the sofa and haphazardly landed on Candy's back.  Katy and Jen looked at each other and both had the same thought, "we need to teach them to do this on command!"  Within just a few short minutes, Darwin and Candy had learned to Piggyback!  (It took Dar a while to build up the ab muscles to hold the pose on Candy's slippery and mushy lab body, though!).


This trick, these dogs, this business - it wasn't all by chance.  It was meant to be!  Darwin and Candy named this company and will forever be the inspiration that propels us forward, developing new recipes, connecting with new farms and businesses - always focused on remaining true to our word - a company focused on reducing food waste!  

Candy and Darwin grew up together in Jennifer's apartment, in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia and eventually moved into their house in Chestnut Hill, where they enjoyed being able to walk to the local dog park, the ease of meeting so many new people while out for walks, and of course showing off their famous trick, Piggyback!

Candy the chocolate lab holds flower in her mouth because she is the best trained dog ever.

Chocolate Lab

The Big Dog From The Logo

Candy was born in the spring of 2010. She has been featured on Good Morning America for National Dress Up Your Pet Day. She has been hired by Raymour & Flanagan (the furniture company) to advertise via her social media channels (@candythehandylab) on National Dog Day, as well as being featured in their printed catalog.  She has won numerous awards for competing in tricks contests, and she has earned her CGC Title (acknowledging her good behaviors in public) and JH Title (acknowledging her ability to work with her handler - Jen - in a series of real-life hunting retrieves) with the AKC.  In addition to those incredible achievements, she has also won countless costume contests, ran beside Jen, Katy, and Darwin in a Turkey Trott 5K, and The Bad Ass Dash (like a mud run, but up a mountain with obstacles), coming in at the top 10 percent of her dog/handler category every time.  Most recently, in the Summer of 2023, Candy was "hired" to play the part of a dog in a short film, which wrapped in October 2023!  Candy is 13 years old and doing great!  

Darwin the beagle mix cocks his head to the side and looks off to the left

Rat Terrier/Chihuahua/Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Mix

The Small Dog From The Logo

Darwin was born in the summer of 2011.  He was featured in Raymour & Flanigan's printed catalog on several occasions.  He won numerous awards for competing in tricks contests, online contests, and costume contests.  He learned to "fetch and hold" and also to "retrieve", just by watching Candy.  He was incredibly smart, quick and quiet on his feet, and had the sweetest nature.  He could nearly do a backflip, and loved doing tricks that allowed him to fly through the air!  Darwin ran beside Jen, Katy and Candy in a Turkey Trott 5K and The Bad Ass Dash (like a mud run, but up a mountain with obstacles), coming in at the top 10 percent of his dog/handler category every time!  His people gave him a multitude of nicknames, including Stinky Winky, Wanker, The Winkler, Darwinkle, Minky, Darford, Minky Binky and many more!  In early 2021, Darwin started showing signs that something was wrong when he tried to jump off the sofa.  He went for tests and the vet thought he had arthritis, and prescribed him steroids.  The pain continued and seemed to be getting worse.  Katy brought him to numerous vets, both conventional and holistic.  It was determined that he had an agressive form of cancer, and a tumor was growing on his spinal cord, which was inoperable.  We lost Darwin in the summer of 2021.  Our lives forever changed.  Darwin had just turned 10.  We miss him every day, though he can be honored and spoken about with so much love, to so many people now.  He left a legacy of fun memories for us to share.  (We also like to think that he comes to visit Candy while she dreams, from time to time!)

Darwin the black and white small mix breed dog holds a bag of dog treat in his mouth made by Piggyback Treats Company
A beautiful clear wrapped package of Piggyback Treats Company treats in red ribbon
Candy the chocolate lab hold a clear wrapped package of Piggyback Treats Company products in her mouth
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