Montana Made: Lissie's Luv Yums - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Montana Made: Lissie's Luv Yums

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Made In Montana: Lissie's Luv Yums Made In Montana: Lissie's Luv Yums

Lissie's Luv Yums in Great Falls uses Montana ingredients to create gourmet dog biscuits for our four-legged friends. But as MTN's Julianne Dellorso reports in this week's "Montana Made" feature, it also provides a helping hand for humans.

Melissa Clark is hard at work doing the job she loves - making gourmet dog treats.

"I've looked forward to baking every single morning," said Clark.

As the sole proprietor of her business, Lissie's Luv Yums, she bakes the goodies from scratch almost every week day at her home in Great Falls.

“I want to do something that's unusual and creative, and that's what my business gives me is something unusual and creative,” she said.

But, being a business owner is something that didn't seem attainable for her growing up. Melissa was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. She was one of the first in Montana to be diagnosed with the disorder. Clark suffered from what doctors called, 'a failure to thrive.'

"I had a heart condition on top of that and I had brain damage,” said Clark. “I mean once the doctors and nurses put that all together they realized it's going to take a lot for this child to make it grow up."

With the support of Sister Johnelle Howanach, who is her foster mom and job support specialist, Melissa has overcome many obstacles.

"For somebody with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, the one thing they say they have got to have one constant steady support person who knows them and will guide them," said Howanach.

Melissa, or Lissie, graduated from CMR High School, and performed a handful of jobs, before realizing 9-5 didn't work for her, so she turned to dog walking, and baked goodies for the pups at Christmas time. When she realized she might be able to make that her living, Lissie's Luv Yums was born.

Lissie and Howanach make the goodies in their kitchen; mixing the ingredients, cutting out the treats, and baking them.

They source all of their ingredients locally.

"I wanted a product that would be made by somebody that had that support for our community," said Clark.

With flour from Wheat Montana and all-natural components that even dogs with sensitive stomachs can enjoy.

"Nutritionally, our treats are just top of the line," added Howanach.

The Luv Yums come with a healthy message for humans, as well:  "If you are pregnant, please don't drink," said Lissie.

The business has helped Lissie, who lives with the daily challenges of FAS, in a handful of ways.

"It helped me develop my right hand as far as using it,” said Lissie. “I've kind of come up with my own therapy for my right hand."

But, perhaps most importantly, it's a recipe for inspiration.

"To give others with your challenges to give them hope," said Howanach.

Lissie and Howanach hope to be able to help others with disabilities by being able to employ them to help make their gourmet dog biscuits.

Lissie's Luv Yums are sold at farmer's markets and trade shows, as well as online.

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