by JANET MANDELSTAM
The idea for Waggin Water grew out of necessity, says founder Drew Whited. A Bloomington native who was living in Chicago at the time, Whited was often on the road with his dog Mickey, a long-haired Chihuahua. “Whenever we were on the go, he was thirsty. There wasn’t always time to pull over and buy a bottle of water, and dogs don’t drink out of bottles anyway.”
Dogs, of course, drink out of bowls. Whited envisioned easily portable, pre-packaged bowls of water that would keep dogs hydrated when they left home. Travelers, hikers, boaters, and others out and about with their dogs could always have fresh water available. So Waggin Water— “Bowl’d Water Solutions for Pets”—was launched last fall.
The water is sold in 12-ounce “peel and serve” bowls and is available online at wagginwater.com or on Amazon, in retail outlets like Target, and in convenience stores. “It all happened so fast,” Whited says. But the world was apparently ready for Waggin Water: “I got in Target on my first call.”
A Bloomington High School South graduate, Whited moved the business back home just before Christmas last year. He has set up production at a warehouse on South Yost Avenue, and the first people he hired were his mother, Marcia, and two nephews. “We’ve got three generations working here,” he says.
Waggin Water uses local lake water that is purified through a filtration machine. The bowls are made of plastic. “I tried to avoid using plastic,” Whited says. “I tried a plant-based plastic, but it melted at high temperatures, so I had to go with plastic.” But he says it was important that his company be “plastic neutral.” Waggin Water partners with rePurpose Global and donates a percentage of every product sold to the organization to fund the collection of twice the amount of plastic waste it generates from oceans and landfills every year. Whited says the company is dedicated to removing all “virgin plastic” from its products by 2023.
Waggin Water organizes occasional community cleanup events for pet owners. “People can take their dogs for a walk and also pick up trash,” Whited says. The walks are announced on his Instagram account, @wagginwater. And for those dog owners who prefer to carry their own water, he offers a reusable, collapsible travel bowl.