What hit her, like a 200-pound St. Bernard, was the idea for Foo Man Chews, fortune cookies for canines. On the market since July, they are made from wheat flour, brown sugar, dried garlic and salt. Though shaped like the made-for-humans variety, the fortunes are aimed at a very different audience. "You will soon have an onset of drool," reads one. "If you play with tires, you will get flat," counsels another. Many are frankly antifeline, like "When there is a cat on a hot tin roof, laugh." Her inspiration, says Rifat: "Lots of wine."
On the verge of being a bone-a-fide hit, Foo Man Chews (which sell for $2.50 per box of 10) are moving briskly at pet shops and department stores such as Nordstrom. At first, though, Rifat, 29, a contract administrator with the Mobil Corp., was barking up the wrong tree. The single entrepreneur tried baking the cookies in the kitchen of her Los Angeles home but says they "would burn or bubble or break or not bend." She even spent $1,200 on a faulty fortune-cookie machine before hiring a cookie company willing to help her.
The Toronto-born daughter of Anne Rifat, a real estate broker, and David, an art professor, Rachel is a longtime dog doter who dressed her childhood pooch in wigs and sunglasses. Although wags have been hounding her to try a few edgier fortunes—"Today you will drink from the toilet bowl" or "You will sniff the rear of someone special"—Rifat has doggedly refused to alter her style. As Foo Man Chews advise: "Mind your grrr's and rfff's."