Dog Clothes

Cynthia Jenkins Shade Degges, and Jenny Gardenswartz, left to right, started an online dog clothing business called Temple of Dog, which has faith-based sayings on the clothes. (Don Leach / Coastline Pilot / September 9, 2013)

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Faith and dogs: two things that mean a lot to a lot of people.

Three friends from Laguna Beach have combined the two into an online clothing line for canines, complete with catchy phrases that appeal to Christians, Jews and people of other religions.

Cotton shirts bear phrases such as Bonefied Christian, Kiss Me I'm Chewish, Doggie Lama and Latter Day Saint, according to Cynthia Jenkins, co-owner of Temple of Dog with partners Shade Degges and Jenny Gardenswartz.

The idea emerged about a year ago when Jenkins, Degges and Gardenswartz were at the beach with their families at summer's end.

The group started joking about dog clothes, and eventually what started out as fun led to an idea for a business, said Degges, who was raised Baptist. Jenkins is Episcopalian and Gardenswartz is Jewish.

"We're all obsessed with our dogs," said Degges, a photographer and director of a Beverly Hills furniture gallery, who has two pooches: a golden retriever and a Dutch retriever.

Jenkins, who owns an advertising agency, has a mutt that looks like the dog from the old sitcom "The Brady Bunch."

The three sent out surveys to people of different faith backgrounds for ideas, according to Jenkins, who said Gardenswartz's ability to speak a little Hebrew helped.

"People love faith as much as they love dogs," Jenkins said. "We wanted to keep it light-hearted, not offensive, and a clear representation of the faith."

The business has taken off since its launch last week, both Jenkins and Degges said. The most popular shirts thus far are those imprinted with "I (Paw) Jesus" and "I (Paw) Moses," Jenkins said.

Jenkins focuses on marketing and Gardenswartz handles sales. Degges designed the website.

The white shirts, which are printed in Austin, Texas, come in small, medium and large sizes and cost $25, according to the company website, http://www.templeofdog.com.

"Owners of smaller dogs tend to dress them more than owners of large dogs," Jenkins said.

The entrepreneurs are planning to roll out bowls and leashes with sayings such as "Let's nosh!" and "My bowl runneth over," and a holiday line featuring the greetings "Fleas Navidad" and "Yappy Yamaka," Jenkins wrote in a follow-up email.

Jenkins hopes the business follows research from the American Pet Products Assn., which reported Americans will spend $55.3 billion on their pets this year, a 7.9% increase from 2012, she said.

"The options are limitless — the only hindrance is the real estate on a dog's body," Jenkins said. "Our pets, along with our personal faiths, are essentially recession proof. Blending one's dog and dogma is a win-win."