In a nice touch of table-turning, no humans were harmed in the making of this animal shampoo. They were, however, put through rigorous testing to make sure the shampoo was safe for animals. But legendary chef Robert Belcham (of the sadly, COVID-closed Campagnolo), is no stranger to testing ingredients so when he and partner Christina Saxton launched their new bespoke all-natural pet shampoo, he made sure to experiment on themselves and others first before it was used on any dog.

“We’re so in love with our Dexter!” says Belcham, who along with Saxton adopted their (thanks to a DNA test) part poodle, chihuahua, husky, German shepherd and min pin rescue two years ago. “He’s brought us so much joy—he’s like a child to us.” And just like you wouldn’t want your child to come into contact with harmful substances, nor would you with your dog.

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Christine Saxton and Robert Belcham with pup Dexter.

So when the couple brought Dexter home two years ago and Saxton went to buy kibble, Belcham jumped in. “We’re not buying his food!” he said. “I’m a chef…that doesn’t make any sense!” Dexter’s foster parents had been making his food from scratch so Belcham set about recreating his menu. “It’s so easy to do and he’s so healthy and energetic because of it,” he says. “He’s a very smart dog…but I think it’s also because his parents are too,” he laughs. 

The couple had recently watched the documentary Stink, which exposes how toxic synthetic fragrances are for humans and animals. “Being a chef, Robert has a very sensitive nose,” says Saxton. “He’s always hated smelly candles and so that show was the beginning of it.” But just like with Dexter’s food, the couple quickly realized there were no natural, healthy commercial options for washing his fur either. “We noticed there were a lot of the shampoos that have a margarita fragrance, pina colada or lemon lime and we were like, ‘ewww,’” she says. “That’s not a good thing.” Belcham began to muse whether he could also make Dexter’s shampoo.

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The duo first set about researching the industry. They enlisted the help of a former chemist from Estée Lauder who worked with Rocky Mountain Soap Co. They invested themselves heavily into the world of aromatherapy and its attendant health benefits: lavender and rosemary essential oils are anti-tick and flea deterrents while sage is anti-bacterial, for example. Then, Covid hit and both their industries came to a grinding halt—Belcham shut his Main Street stalwart Campagnolo restaurant while Saxton’s industry, travel planning for the entertainment industry, went on hiatus. The lull afforded them both the time to both fully commit and thus Laslo & Saxon was born (the name inspiration came by way of two dogs Belcham knew growing up: ”I always thought they had the coolest names.”).

Billed as the world’s first customizable, all-natural dog shampoo, it’s a formula that aims to redefine an industry that all too long has relied on chemicals. Dog owners will soon be able to go to the LasloandSaxon.com to fill out a questionnaire to create a profile about their dog and then their bespoke shampoo will arrive at their door.

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Four offerings round out the stable: Lavender & Sage (lavender also promotes relaxation while sage is also an antiseptic); Orange Bergamot (bergamot uplifts and calms while citrus is known to have cleansing properties); Rosemary & Atlas Cedar (rosemary works as a pest deterrent and is said to help relieve joint and inflammation while atlas cedar calms); and Verbena & Lemongrass (lemongrass is a natural insect repellant and offers anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties). 

When it came time to do the photo shoot for the website, Belcham acknowledged he had some experience. “I’ve done thousands of photos shoots with food making sure it looks just right,” he says. “I tell you shooting just puppies all day is the best thing ever...and a lot less stressful than hanging out with chefs all day.”

Preorders at Lasloandsaxon.com