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!
Minnie poses in her Mini (Cooper).
Minnie, adopted by Alice Nichols, owner and President of Up Country, was one of eight puppies transported from an overcrowded South Carolina shelter to the Newport based Potter League. Part hound, terrier and lab, Minnie is a classic example of a mixed breed.
Alice with Minnie as a 10 week old puppy.
Minnie is our resident model for new collar designs, taste tester for new treats and a pal to play with during breaks. You may recognize her from the many times she has appeared in our catalog, on the Up Country website and on social media. But this media star is a modest and hard working pup. She loves the every-dog pleasures of belly rubs, barking at dogs passing by and a nice day- long nap.
Minnie is truly Superdog to us!
At home, Alice confesses, “Despite our intentions to have an obedient, well trained dog, we have capitulated to Minnie’s charms and demands. We will be repeating puppy training 101 with summer school a definite possibility.” Minnie inspires our continued commitment to pet adoption through our Give a Dog a Collar Program with the RISPCA. So don't forget to #adoptdontshop, you could find your very own Minnie!
In 2000 Alan Kraus returned to New York City with his beloved Labrador Retriever, Catie. Several blocks from Alan’s apartment in Chelsea was a dog food store called The Barking Zoo. “I went in to buy a bag of dog food and ended up buying the shop. Well, that’s not exactly how it happened, but the previous owner was ready to move on. We had known her for a few years and I was ready for a new project, it was serendipity!”
Alan had previously been in corporate retail, so while he had buying and merchandising experience, his only pet experience came from being a dog owner and lover. “During this time our community (Chelsea) was changing drastically. It was on the verge of being a hot new neighborhood with all kinds of trendy new retail and residential development. I had seen many creative, successful dog boutiques in the New York City area and knew that was my goal. I wanted to have everything for dogs and cats in one store including accessories, apparel, premium foods that specialize in raw, organic meal and local treats.”
The Barking Zoo is widely known for its apparel, “We have a great reputation in New York City for having the highest quality winter apparel, it is definitely our thing!” As soon as the weather starts to turn the Barking Zoo’s customers hurry in to select new gear for the chilly months ahead.
“We have carried Up Country since 2002 and customers have been fans ever since. We started with the collars and leads, and integrated the coats when they came out.” The Barking Zoo’s most popular Up Country goods are the Green Market Collars. “We always try and include items that are eco friendly, which is why the Green Market collars are such a great fit, we love that they are made from one of the world’s most renewable resources, Bamboo. It's exciting that they can also be personalized, which is a wonderful touch.” The Barking Zoo also carries themed collars for holidays throughout the year.
The compact boutique is also known for its events in and out of the store! In December, The Barking Zoo holds its annual Photos with Santa, where money raised is donated to a different rescue organization or shelter each year. In addition to their own event, they are sponsors of the Funny For Fido comedy show where “comics stand up for homeless animals” and raise money for the local rescues and shelters. Funds raised at the event and throughout the year are used to pay for veterinary care, food, training, transport and temporary and permanent housing for homeless animals.
When asked what he loves about the pet industry, Alan said, “Everyday I get to work with animals and the people who love them. Everyone who walks through the door has a big heart and when I can help a customer find the perfect food, supplement or accessory for their pet, it’s very fulfilling. Here at the Barking Zoo we make sure to add the personal touch every time. If you have an older dog that can’t make it to the store, we will come to him with a selection of coats and collars, for the perfect fit. You can't get that kind of service online.”
The next time you are in New York City, don’t forget to stop by The Barking Zoo and say hello to Alan. You'll be glad you did!
If you are in the New York area you may be lucky enough to run into Bailey and Charlie, also known as @BaileyDoodle on their Instagram account. This adorable duo is doing wonderful things for their community and greatly impacting people’s lives!
It all started 5 years ago when owners Mike and Chris decided to add a furry friend to their family. Having allergies in the household made finding the perfect hypo-allergenic dog a must. After much research, Mike and Chris found an Australian Labradoodle from Mountain Park Labradoodles. Australian Labradoodles are very smart and can be easily trained, so Bailey’s temperament coupled with Mike’s training expertise created an unstoppable team. Early on, Mike made sure to bring Bailey to outlet centers, stores and parks, asking people to feed Bailey a treat. After a few trips a fellow shopper stopped and mentioned that Bailey would make an outstanding therapy dog.
With little knowledge of therapy dogs, Mike decided to do some digging on his own. He was intrigued by the idea of training Bailey to help provide comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools and more. And Chris loved the idea of being able to help out the community and individuals with a more hands on approach, rather than the usual monetary donation.
Mike started with the list of requirements Bailey needed to pass the certification test for Cohen’s Children’s Hospital. While Mike did most of the training, when he needed an extra set of hands he began working with a trainer at Petco. Bailey attended both group and private classes to complete the requirements.
“Throughout the year individuals from Therapy Dogs International come to your area and test the dogs trying to pass the certification test. At that time it was 30 different commands, basic obedience, off leash work, hand signals and being comfortable and confident in the hospital environment. At just over a year old Bailey passed, which was remarkable as we were told dogs who complete the test are typically around two years of age. Bailey then went on to pass the test at the hospital where he had no reactions to loud noises, crutches, wheelchairs or any other typical hospital activity.”
On Fridays, Mike, Chris and Bailey visit children who are cancer patients going through difficult treatments like chemo, blood transfusions, etc. Many of these children have their beloved dogs waiting for them at home, and miss them dearly. When Bailey walks in they immediately light up with the joy of having a dog to pet while in the hospital. “At the end of the day, the goal is to make these children forget that they are in a hospital and just let them be kids playing with an adorable dog.”
Bailey also visits an adolescent eating disorder group where he plays with the kids and they get to watch him do tricks, like balancing cookies on his head and nose, play dead and even dance. “I show the kids how to ask Bailey to do his tricks and then they get comfortable doing it on their own. When a new child comes in, they show them the tricks and it is a way to bond and make a new situation comfortable.”
While Bailey was doing great at home on his off days, Mike and Chris felt he needed a companion. They were looking for a smaller dog, and ended up getting a Mini Australian Labradoodle named Charlie. “Charlie is just over a year old and higher energy than Bailey.” While Charlie is currently receiving training to become a therapy dog and is not allowed to go to the hospital with Bailey, she can attend blood drives where she waits at the sign-in table and wags her tail for attention and scratches. “We call it Pet for a Pint and every pint affects the lives of 3 different people.”
Bailey and Charlie’s life outside of the hospital left many patients asking what they do while at home. This sparked the idea to start a Facebook page and Instagram account to share Bailey and Charlie’s adventures. Both pups love to travel, play at the beach and grab a bite to eat at a dog-friendly restaurant with Mike and Chris, which has provided great content to share.
“We love Up Country because the patterns are bright, fun, cute and the kids love them. The collars and leads are a light-hearted touch that the children can relate to and always notice.” They went on to say, “The Big Bones pattern they are wearing right now, makes them more approachable. Patients are always commenting on how well dressed they are. And we love all the holiday patterns that we change throughout the year.”
Whether your dog is a therapy dog or simply your lovable companion, help them dress to impress with Up Country!