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!
Buoy, mascot extraordinaire!
In 2004 Leanne Wuest decided to make her dream a reality and left her 24 year long career as a waitress to open The Labrador Store & More, inspired by her best friend black lab, Kino. After spending years telling her customers hysterical stories about her dog and sharing her love for animals, she took the next step towards following her passion.
Kino was the store's original inspiration.
The original store opened in Long Beach Island, N.J. where Leanne stocked her shelves with products featuring not only Labradors, but 100 other breeds. She brought in accent rugs, hand-hooked pillows (some of which had a beach theme to go along with the Long Beach Island vibe) and more.
Leanne's custom designed T-shirts.
In October of 2015 Leanne moved her beloved store to the beautiful town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. The shelves are packed with hats, mugs and a children’s section with dog themed books. Leanne even started her own line of custom Labrador t-shirts with over 20 different styles. Leanne still carries all of her favorite products for both human and dog, now with a lake shore twist. “I swapped the beach theme for lakes and mountains inspired by the beautiful landscape and the stunning shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene.”
A wide array of Up Country collars decorate the walls.
Leanne has carried Up Country collars since 2005. “I started with the Bison collars and now have dozens of designs for our customers to choose from. When we were located on Long Beach Island the shore themed collars like Surfboards and Lobster & Buoy were very popular. That has changed to Fly Fishing, Bella Floral and Daisy for this beautiful part of the country. I love the quality of the products and so do my customers.”
You'll find something for the entire family.
When we asked Leanne what her favorite part of the pet business was, she said “Every person that comes in to shop or to simply look around, winds up chatting with and exchanging dog stories with another pet lover. There is an abundance of information and we learn and laugh with each other. And the best perk is my 10 year old black lab Buoy gets to be with me everyday!”
So if you are in Coeur d’Alene stop by The Labrador Store & More say hi to Leanne and Buoy. The store is brimming with great finds and fun conversation!
210 E. Sherman Ave. Suite 143 Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814
If you happen to frequent the beaches of Santa Cruz or the largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe, you are likely to run into the adorable two and a half year old Golden Retriever Maya, also known as @MeetMaya on Instagram. With over 32,000 fans this golden goddess is showing off the good life with her family and bringing smiles to thousands of people’s faces daily.
Maya came in to the Cronin’s lives 7 years after the family had lost their previous beloved dog and were finally emotionally ready for another furry companion. Maya has grown up in close vicinity to the beach and absolutely loves the ocean. “We have never seen a dog swim so smoothly or with such confidence. Which can be partially credited to her DNA, and letting her build confidence at her own pace”, said her dad Kyle.
Maya’s puppy-like tendencies and adventurous ways prompted Kyle to create an Instagram dedicated to sharing her tennis ball obsession, love for humans big and small and desire to please. “Maya’s Instagram really just started out as a joke. It wasn’t until we posted a picture of puppy Maya hugging her sister and littermate that things got serious! The picture was reposted on a bunch of popular pages, and sure enough the page took off.” If the pictures didn't make Maya's fans happy enough, Kyle began creating short videos of Maya playing Pokemon, having a beach day and even writing letters to Santa. “We are loving the messages from her fans and friends from all over the world and hopefully little things like this can bring the dog loving community closer together.”
Another thing you must know about Maya, is her love of style. Kyle first discovered Up Country at Pet Pals in Santa Cruz when he was browsing other collar options, because her current collar was jammed with sand. “What drew us initially to the Up Country display was the creative designs, but after holding the collars, we knew they had the durability Maya would need for long beach days. Because Maya is all about style, picking one pattern would be hard, but she definitely has a few favorites. We absolutely love the seasonal collections. We have the Fa La La set for the Christmas season, the Snowman set for our snowy adventures in Tahoe, and the All Hearts set for the upcoming Valentine’s Day week. When she is not wearing those, she is wearing her Reef collar. If it were up to Maya, she would have a different collar for every day of the year!"
Because of Maya’s love for making people smile Kyle classifies Maya’s lifestyle as a celebration. “Any collar you find under the Celebration collection, Maya illustrates with her bubbly personality. She’s all about being cheerful and bringing joy to those that interact with her.”
Brighten up your day and head over to @MeetMaya on Instagram or Facebook to see this blonde beauty in action!
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!