Skip to content

B.C. teen with autism hires helping hands for dog-cookie business

Chilliwack adults with developmental disabilities hired to make Tommy’s Choice Dog Cookies

A Harrison-based, dog-cookie company that raises money for guide dogs has been able to increase its productivity thanks to a team of dedicated bakers in Chilliwack.

Four people with Chilliwack Society for Community Living (CSCL) – a non-profit organization that supports adults with developmental disabilities – were recently hired to help make Tommy’s Choice Dog Cookies.

Back in October 2023, they met 16-year-old Ryder Newhouse, the young entrepreneur who started the dog-treat business in January 2022.

Ryder, who has autism spectrum disorder, and his grandmother Lillian Newhouse said Tommy’s Choice has been so successful over the past two years that they couldn’t keep up with demand.

Ryder Newhouse joins his friends with Chilliwack Society for Community Living as they make Tommy’s Choice Dog Cookies on Feb. 21, 2024. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Ryder and Lillian were guest speakers at a workshop in Langley hosted by Community Futures B.C. as part of its Entrepreneurs with Disabilities program. While there, they connected with vocational councillor Jodie Dessau from CSCL, and she suggested that the adults in CSCL’s Life program would be the perfect fit for Ryder’s business.

“In the Life program, you have to want to work,” Dessau said.

‘Life’ stands for ‘learning, inclusion, friendship and employment.’

“Every person who joins us has jobs besides this dog-cookie business,” Dessau said.

Life program client Alec Chelczynski stocks shelves at FreshCo, and also helps clean kennels and feed animals at a pet hotel in Rosedale. Kyle McMillan works at the Mission Thrift Store. And Kara-Lyn Loewen and Michelle Phillips deliver the Coffee News throughout Chilliwack.

They all get paid for those jobs, and now they’re getting even more income by making Tommy’s Choice Dog Cookies every week.

Kyle McMillan with Chilliwack Society for Community Living makes Tommy’s Choice Dog Cookies on Feb. 21, 2024. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

“I think the best part of the whole thing is they’re enjoying it,” Lillian said. “It’s just so gratifying for them.”

The extra hands have been “really helpful,” she added.

Ryder and the four adults in the Life program are known as Team Ryder. They were at the Christmas Craft Market in November where Chelczynski, also known as the team’s salesperson, had customers coming to the booth by shouting out “Extra! Extra! Tommy’s Choice Dog Cookies!”

Once a week, the Life members make 24 packages of cookies with help from Ryder. In addition, Ryder also bakes dog treats twice a week at a commercial kitchen in Agassiz.

Thanks to the team from CSCL, Ryder has been able to raise even more donations for BC and Alberta Guide Dogs.

Kara-Lyn Loewen with Chilliwack Society for Community Living checks the thickness of dough while making Tommy’s Choice Dog Cookies on Feb. 21, 2024. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Animal-lover Loewen has already put some of her income from making cookies back into the community.

After a recent pay cheque, instead of holding onto the money for herself, she bought two packages of Tommy’s Choice Dog Cookies and donated them to the Community Animal Response and Education (CARE) Centre.

“I don’t care about money, I care about animals,” Loewen said. “Everybody’s so focused on money. For me, I care about what’s more important in life – animals. That’s who I am.”

Tommy’s Choice Dog Cookies are available in 18 stores in B.C., including seven in the Chilliwack/Rosedale area, and five in Agassiz/Harrison. For more, go to

READ MORE: 1 year in, Harrison teen with autism has made 15,000 dog cookies, donated $1,000 for guide dogs

Jenna Hauck

About the Author: Jenna Hauck

I started my career at The Chilliwack Progress in 2000 as a photojournalist.
Read more