ScratchnAll: Inventor finds hit with animal product
Ever since she owned her first dog as a young girl, Cynthia Garry has loved animals of all sorts, and that passion has influenced her to invent a product designed to improve the quality of life for animals around the globe.
Garry, a Dillsburg resident, is the inventor of ScratchnAll, a device that offers a safe surface for barnyard, zoo and domestic animals to use for the kind of scratching that is common among numerous species.
The idea for ScratchnAll arose in 2008 on Garry’s farm, when she noticed her horse, Sundance, struggling to scratch under his chin using his hind leg; she had also observed her wooden barn doors wearing down from his constant rubbing against them.
Garry, imagining how she might develop a way for her horse to scratch comfortably while avoiding unnecessary pain or accidental injury on hard wooden surfaces, decided to conduct an experiment. She developed a makeshift device out of curry comb-like material and placed it over the Dutch door in Sundance’s stall.
“So, about three days later, I went out to check, specifically, for any signs that he was using it — and by gosh, there was hair in it,” she said. “So that was what they call my ‘a-ha!’ moment.”
Realizing her idea had potential, Garry reached out to an inventor cousin who helped her get in touch with Rod Hoffmann, an Oklahoma-based toy designer. Garry pitched the product to Hoffmann and asked him to help her design it; Hoffmann, who was himself the owner of over a dozen horses, had never seen any device like it. He was intrigued.
Garry and Hoffmann came up with a simple design. According to the product website, each 10-ounce, six-by-five-inch pad consists of durable, bendable elastomer rubber with “212 stimulating acupressure points” on its surface. Users can interlock the pads, not unlike puzzle pieces, into custom arrangements that will best suit the needs of their animals.
Garry describes her invention as “an animal enrichment product.” Animals will inevitably scratch themselves, so they might as well enjoy doing it. She notes that ScratchnAll pads are trademarked and patented in the United States and Europe, manufactured entirely in the U.S., and fully compliant with the Food and Drug Administration.
Since its official launch a decade ago, Garry’s product has spread around the world and is used by at least 23 types of animals, including horses, pigs, donkeys and goats. Her clients range from the rhinoceros exhibit at a Scottish zoo to legendary lifestyle guru Martha Stewart. StartupNation declared Garry’s company one of its top 10 home-based businesses in 2009 and proclaimed Garry a winner in the category of “Boomers Back in Business.”
At press time, Garry and Hoffmann are collaborating on a new product. Declining to reveal details, Garry described it as “a multipurpose tool strictly for people who love their animals … including … physically-challenged people.”
“I am so excited about it,” she said. “I started from square one, and you just jump in. But I can tell you: Making this second product is going to be a lot easier than the first … You tend, I think, to spend too much money in the beginning without really researching what you’re doing … and I’m not ready to jump into that anymore. I’m very, very, very careful — extremely so.”
Garry, who oversees each aspect of her manufacturing process and enlists the aid of workers from a local senior center for packaging purposes, said she appreciates the independence that being a self-made entrepreneur has granted her. She encourages women — especially senior citizens — to pursue their goals and to strive toward their own personal freedom.
“It’s never too late,” she said.
Garry has learned a great deal about running a business in the last 10 years — she cites, for example, an instance in which a website, falsely claiming it could get her and her product into O, The Oprah Magazine, scammed her out of $4,000.
“As soon as I got my product, I just believed everybody — that they could do wonders for me,” she said, adding: “It can be very discouraging at many times, but you just have to keep your eye on the future and what you’re doing and keep striving for better and better.”
Garry also encourages budding entrepreneurs to go into their ventures with an open mind. “Listen to people,” she said. “You don’t have to do what they tell you, but I always listen to people’s suggestions or recommendations, because some of them are very good.”
She turns to her company’s website designer, for example, for color recommendations. “They know what people want. They know what I should do,” she said.
But it is a non-human companion that remains her biggest inspiration for her business venture: Sundance, who passed away last December at the age of 38.
“Everything I ever wanted in a horse — everything I’ve ever dreamed of — that was what he was,” she said. “In doing this, I’m keeping him alive. I’m keeping his memory alive. And that’s what I want to do.”