Dog-Eared Reads: Amazing Gracie a touching memoir about Three Dog Bakery founding

Amazing Gracie cover. Photo by Wesley Coburn
Amazing Gracie cover. Photo by Wesley Coburn /

Amazing Gracie: A Dog’s Tale, written by Dan Dye, Mark Beckloff and Richard Simon, was published in 2000 by Workman Publishing, and it’s a pleasant, touching quick read of a memoir.

It details the founding of Three Dog Bakery and the biography of chief taste tester that spearheaded the project, a deaf and partially blind albino Great Dane named Gracie.

Nowadays cooking healthy treats for our pups is somewhat normalized, and there are even cookbooks for dogs, but when they got started, there wasn’t anything like that.

Three Dog Bakery now has stores in 20 states and internationally in Canada and British Columbia, but every business has to start somewhere, and in their case, that began in late 1980s Kansas City with a frustrated office worker named Dan.

Amazing Gracie is a touching memoir about a very good girl who helped launch a thriving bakery business.


Dan’s working in a soul-crushing office job, trying to shake off the grief of losing his longtime dog and fix up the drafty run-down mansion he’s sharing with his partner Mark and Mark’s two dogs, Sarah the Labrador and Dottie the Dalmatian.

His coworker Annie talks him into adopting a puppy from the same litter that she just got her new Great Dane, and things, uh, don’t go smoothly at all – the cops show up the first Gracie’s in her new home.

But over time she learns her place in the pack and makes a new friend in Byron the Boston Terrier, who belonged to the nice elderly widow next door, though she does have a problem – she’s anorexic.

And how do you feed an anorexic pupper if they won’t eat anything, even super-premium kibble? Annie suggests Dan trying baking cookies, since those are some of the easiest things in the world to make.

Lo and behold, Gracie loves cookies, and so do Sarah and Dottie, and the guests at Dan and Mark’s New Years party, which gives them the idea to turn a curious hobby into a side business.

Gradually, the business of three dog Bakery grows from the kitchen at home to an abandoned pizza shop, and then an actual retail location in a nearby suburb.

As word of mouth spreads, the business rapidly expands and leads to appearances on late-night TV and a cooking show.

By this time, all three eponymous doggos are getting older, and starting to fail. As the book closes, Gracie’s successor, also a deaf rescue dog, is found, promising to continue the good work her older sisters started.

What We Thought

I (Wes) originally came across Amazing Gracie at a garage sale, well before I started writing about dogs. My initial reaction was “That was cute, but a bakery for dogs is kind of weird.”

Now that I’m more familiar with how dog books in general are often written, this is a very good example of the genre, and Gracie’s friendly and calming spirit shines through throughout, especially in an early encounter with a deaf boy.

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