Thursday, April 18, 2024

Greensboro inventors’ scent spurs dogs to action

It’s 5 a.m. You wake up to a slobbery tongue licking your face, and you know what that means: It’s time to take the dog out, whether you like it or not. You step outside groggily, still rocking a pair of pajama pants and ratty flip-flops. Five minutes pass, then 10. At this point, you’re frustrated. “Just go, already!” you urge Fido. But he’s taking his sweet time, seemingly sniffing every single leaf, rock and stick before finally selecting a place to do his business.

What if there was a product that relieves the annoyingly long amount of time it takes your dog to, well, relieve himself?

Greensboro-based life sciences startup Kepley BioSystems Inc. has developed a solution to every dog owner’s crappiest problem. The business, founded in 2013 by biologists Anthony Dellinger and Chris Kepley and veteran business executive Terry Brady, created Kepley K9 Strategic Scent Stimulant, which boasts a solution of botanicals that mimic naturally occurring molecules dogs seek when finding a spot to go.

Owners simply apply a drop of the scent stimulant to their dog’s paw. The smell releases a plume of scents that provide dogs with the molecules needed to stimulate defecation when they’re outside. The scent molecules bind with olfactory receptors in the dog’s nasal cavity. Those nerves transfer responses that go directly to the brain and trigger an involuntary constriction and relaxation of muscles in the dog’s behind. Suddenly, Fido does his thing.

Kepley BioSystems Chief Inventor Terry Brady theorized the scent stimulant as he was taking his Belgian Malinois for a morning walk across the beach at his home in Anguilla, a Caribbean island. “Terry noticed that the dog would desperately search the edge of the weeds and tall grass looking for a specific smell before relieving herself,” says Lee Robertson, Kepley’s director of scientific communications and operations.

The company previously found success by creating a synthetic and sustainable crustacean bait known as OrganoBait, which is essentially a fishy smelling puck that lures crabs and lobsters using olfactory signals. OrganoBait received nearly $1.2 million in state and federal grants. “[Brady] began to suspect that there would be universal molecular cues at work for all scent-driven species,” Robertson says.

Kepley K9 Strategic Scent Stimulant was featured in an article in the Journal of Animal Health and Behavioral Science and debuted June 1 at the World Dog Expo in Secaucus, N.J. It retails for $17 for a 90-day solution. Each purchase includes a matching product donation to shelters and rescue groups to help transition dogs into new homes with potty training. The product is available on Amazon and Kepley’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, which aims to raise $15,000 from donors. It is being produced at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering and Greensboro’s Gateway Research Park North Campus.

Plans to bring the product to retail are underway, and the company is “now accepting wholesale orders with hopes to have it on local shelves within the summer,” Robertson says.

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