In 2003 Stacy Cohen visited the island of St. Thomas and was frustrated when she couldn’t find a souvenir for her beloved French Bulldog, Monty. Shortly after she arrived home empty handed, Stacy decided to trade her demanding law practice for a more laid back lifestyle. Inspired by her experience, 2003 Stacy opened a small boutique in Charlotte Amalie focusing on pet gifts and accessories. The store thrived and Stacy’s sister-in-law Jessica decided to move to St. Thomas and join the team.
With continued success and a great local reputation, Jessica and Stacey moved the boutique to Yacht Haven Grand. This beautiful marina is home to visiting cruise ships and locals alike. Necessities like food, treats, beds, and apparel were added to make this the pet destination on the island. Jessica says, “Our customers are divided equally, about 55% local and 45% tourists. The winter is obviously more tourist-heavy as vacationers are escaping the cold and in the summertime we see much more locals.”
“Tourists clamor for our collars, t-shirts or something the dog can wear from their trip. That is why Up Country has played such a large role since we’ve opened. We began selling the tropical Sanibel collection but soon realized that visitors were in search of a wearable that said St. Thomas or U.S. Virgin Islands. That’s when we created our first custom collar with Up Country and now we have four! Our sailboat pattern, pirate design, rasta stripe and the sea turtle design with pink and green for lady pups are all wildly popular among both tourists and locals alike.”
How ‘Bout Your Pet is also known for the wonderful events they host and sponsor. “Our Pictures with Santa event is by far our biggest. We had to expand the event over two days because so many people attend. My husband dresses up as Santa and we have dogs, cats and even some exotic animals like turtles and parrots waiting in line. Our other signature event is the Cinco De Mayo Chihuahua Race which benefits our local rotary club.” says Jessica. And if you want to host your own party look no further than How 'Bout Your Pet! “We’ve done PJ, Luau, and other themed pet parties.”
The pet business is a love fest for Jessica. “I love the lifestyle it has created for me. The store brings in customers who are positive and happy, I get to work with pets and it is truly a feel-good industry. I develop an immediate connection with my customers since we all obsess about our pets. And that is true for our vendors and staff, too. My job is pure joy.”
So pack away your jackets, head off to the wonderful island of St. Thomas and stop by How ‘Bout Your Pet for the perfect souvenir!
For a couple of three year-olds, Jake and Mishka have had a lot of travel under their belts. Their wildly popular rescue from the Sochi Olympics by Olympic Silver Medalist, Gus Kenworthy and his best friend Robin Macdonald has brought them to their now charmed life in British Columbia. These adorable boys are nothing short of a miracle!
“The move from Sochi to Moscow to New York was an ordeal I will never forget”, said owner Robin Macdonald. “I had to find a way of moving 5 dogs from the small town of Sochi into the USA. Alone. I did have some help from the Humane Society International when it came to finding the most accommodating flights out. However I fought day and night for over a month with officials in Russia just trying to keep the dogs healthy.”
Despite the continued difficulties, Robin kept moving forward and finally got what he was fighting for. “It was huge relief when I arrived on US soil. From NYC I traveled to Denver and the boys lived there for a year. From Denver the team moved up North to Vancouver where they live now. There was a huge amount of interest in the rescue of the pups and their journey, so about a week after they arrived on US soil I created their Instagram account, @theSochiPups. I try to document our adventures, play times and new experiences daily.”
Although Jake and Mishka were both born in Sochi, they are far from similar. Commonly mistaken for litter mates, these two are actually not blood related. Jake the multi colored Shepherd mix is a very gentle guy, he loves to cuddle but is also fiercely independent and is always exploring with his nose to the ground. Mishka, the jet black pup loves his food and is obsessed with treats, which makes it a lot easier for Robin to capture him in photos. “He is always by my side.”
This lucky duo spends their days galloping through the snow, exploring the forests and in the warmer months, swimming in lakes. “They seem to make the best out of each season. They love the water so much I have a hard time keeping them out of it. They also love mud, and I also… can’t keep them out of it”, said Macdonald.
As celebrity dogs Jake and Mishka always need to look their best, which is why they are Up Country Dogs. “Jake, Mishka and I went over to a friend’s place and saw a dog bed with an amazing pattern on it, Jake went over to the bed and immediately made himself at home on it. I looked up “Up Country” and saw the full line of products. Simple, fun designs with matching leads, collars and beds, check.” Some of Jake and Mishka’s favorite patterns are Zebra, Anchors Aweigh and Camo perfect for their outdoor adventures in the lake, snow and all that mud!
For more adorable photos of these strays turned stars, head over to @thesochipups and follow along on their next adventure!