By Ali Lucia

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For pet owners, pets really are a part of the family. That’s why after losing her dog Maggie, Kathy Kuhl wanted to do something to memorialize her pet that had been a part of her family for more than a decade.

That’s what sparked this lighting idea: a candle with Maggie’s collar and dog tag forever on display in her suburban home.

“Maggie was our first dog, my dog, our dog right after we got married and not having kids that dog really was the source of unconditional love for us,” Kuhl said.

When Kuhl lost Maggie after she had been sick for a few years, it was harder then they anticipated.

“She was just so warm and I just felt like the candle signified the warmth I had for her,” Kuhl said.

That’s when Maggie’s light was born, a glow in the mud room serving as a reminder in a place where Maggie used to greet Kuhl every time she came home.

“I made a candle; I made one for myself using her tags and replica red collar,” Kuhl said, showing us Maggie’s candle placed next to several pictures of her dog.

The light with a familiar tag turned out to be perfect gift for other friends who dealing with the same thing.

“I started making them for friends as something to give to them when they lost their pets,” Kuhl said.

Soon enough, those lights weren’t just going to friends, so Kuhl and her husband do a lot of the pouring in the basement studio.

“After adopting Nelli, that’s when things really started taking off,” Kuhl said when discussing why she decided to name the business after her dog that is constantly hiding under desk, “Nelli became my new business partner.”

Although Maggie was Kuhl’s first love, Nelli is a close second and that’s why she decided to call her business NelliDesigns.

“There’s different scents we offer: fresh cut grass, big stick, wet dog, and lazy days,” Kuhl said as she showed us some of the clever catch phrases and scents for candle lovers and pet owners alike.

Her business idea has been so popular that she had to start outsourcing some of her pouring about a year and half ago.

“It was a blessing in disguise because it was a year ago today that I ran into medical complications from spinal cord tumor,” Kuhl said.

That tumor has been removed and she is slowly gaining feeling back in her legs.

“I have been able to start walking again, I’m driving again, but I still I can’t run,” she said while petting Nelli.

Nelli is always up for a brisk walk and willing to lend a paw to make sure everything is packed perfectly.

“Everyone has their own story about their pet and they find the same comfort from the candle,” Kuhl said.

Kuhl and Nelli are also coming out some new Minnesota holiday candles. She’s calling the series “The Land of 10,000 Wags.” Her tags are engraved in Tonka Bay. Her collars come from a shop in south Minneapolis.

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