It was a special requirement that I had for a dog collar, which connected me with Pinehurst resident Kelly Stevens in 2017.
It was a type of dog collar I could not find in any retail store or online. I needed to find a dog collar without the standard metal ring (I later learned it was called a “D” ring) that you attach a standard dog license to.
On more than one occasion, my little Chihuahua mix, “Luciano,” narrowly escaped serious harm due to this seemingly benign, metal ring that is standard on all dog collars.
The first mishap occurred several years ago, while he was laying on top of the heating floor vent, something Chihuahuas normally do to stay warm. I was in the other room and heard him scream out—it was a combination of pain and panic.
Racing into the bedroom, I came upon a frightening scene—his dog tags had gotten caught in the heating vent, trapping him. By the time I reached him, Luciano had managed to pull the entire unit out of the floor. Because he was panicking, and his tags were still caught in the heating vent, the unit was striking him in the face.
I attributed what happened as a freak accident, but several years later he encountered other issues with the standard “D” ring. This included getting his little dewclaw caught in the metal ring on two separate occasions.
After that, I began my search for a different type of dog collar. One that was sans the D ring but also had my phone number embroidered into the material of the collar.
It was on Facebook that I found Gone Doggie and reached out to Kelly. Describing what I was looking for in a collar, Kelly told me she could make the collar I needed.
Several days later, I picked up Luciano’s new collar, and he’s been wearing it ever since.
Luciano’s new collar from Gone Doggie.
Since 2017, I have followed Gone Doggie on Facebook, read about Kelly’s involvement with local dog rescue groups, and watched her business expand to include a booth at Twigg & Company.
I felt that a story was long overdue.
I sat down with Kelly and her husband Todd at High Octane in Aberdeen one Sunday morning.
As we talked, what came across clearly was her passion for dogs, sewing and her involvement with our local community.
I learned that in addition to making all the dog collars, leashes, tote bags and other items by hand, Kelly works as an administrative assistant for Southern Pines Police Department. Kelly’s mom, Jackie, who was instrumental in teaching Kelly how to sew growing up also helps with production at Gone Doggie.
Kelly Stevens with her industrial sewing machine making one of her many dog collars. All photos contributed.
SHS – “When did you first start making dog collars?”
Kelly – “I really got into it when we moved here (to Pinehurst) in 2006. That’s was when I finally got the machines that I needed.
“When we adopted our second dog, that is what brought me into the whole adoption and animal advocacy thing because I learned so much from her life, and what she had been through.
“From there, I just started diving into the whole dog thing – learning about what animal advocate groups do. I started making small things to donate. When I decided I wanted to get into the collars, I started researching hardware, etc. When I make something, I want it to be durable, I want it to be fun, and I want something that people would want to buy.
“After researching, I found out that the good quality materials that I wanted to use required that I get an industrial sewing machine. We made the investment, and it started from there.”
SHS- “What year was that?”
Kelly – “2006.”
SHS – “So, you started doing rescue and advocacy work, and that led you to sew dog collars.”
Kelly – Yes.
SHS- “What rescue groups to you support here?”
Kelly – “I support Solutions for Animals, Animal Advocates, and I do a little bit with Unchaining Moore Dogs, donating to them. At last years’ Aberdeen Dog Fair, a portion of my sales went to Solutions for Animals.
“When we first moved here from Massachusetts in 2006, I wasn’t working, so I did a lot of fostering. A lot of dogs came through our house. At one point we had 10 dogs.”
SHS – Is the majority of your work custom orders?
Kelly – Yes, probably 60% is custom.
SHS – “Where can people buy your products?”
Kelly – Twigg & Co., and you can also get in touch with me on Facebook.
Feature photo: Kelly Stevens and her fur babies.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Maggie Sergio.