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Norwalk Daily Voice serves Norwalk & Rowayton

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Vintage Wine Crates Raise Dog Bowl to New Heights

When a friend gave Stephen Simms an old wooden port wine crate in 1995, he told his wife, Catherine, he was going to turn it into a feeder for Nigel, their black lab. "We'd heard that raised food bowls can help prevent canine bloat," says Catherine Simms .

Stephen, a carpenter, took the bottom off the box, cut a hole in it for an aluminum food bowl, and fitted it all back together. Catherine, an artist who specializes in faux finishes, sanded, glazed and varnished the box. Nigel, never a shirker when it came to food, loved mealtimes more than ever.

Realizing that he was on to something, Stephen made another feeder and delivered it to Sterling Farms Golf Course in Stamford, Conn. The club's labradoodle loved it, too, and members started asking where they could get a feeder for their own dogs.

Stephen began collecting wooden crates from wine stores and turning them into single, double and triple bowl feeders. "People like the triple feeders so they can have one bowl for wet food, one for dry food and one for water," he says. Catherine, a total novice on the computer, was put in charge of marketing and sales. "I took a Microsoft course and designed our website myself," she says. She did it so well that Microsoft sent a film crew to document a day in the life of Whiner & Diner, the Simms' new business.

Finding wine boxes is Stephen's biggest challenge, especially now that Whiner & Diner has expanded its offerings to cat feeders, small dog beds, toy boxes and leash holders. Each is crafted with meticulous attention to detail by Stephen, and finished with equal care by Catherine in a choice of red, blue, green, white, burgundy or natural. Whiner & Diner feeders are sold all over the country. "We have customers in Australia, too," Stephen says, proudly.

"We have virtually 100 percent customer satisfaction," Catherine says. "And many repeat orders."

Have you tried feeding your dog from a raised bowl?

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