June 2010

What A Dog Wants, What A Cat Needs: TAIL-WAGGERS: Every Pet's Favorite Place To Shop & Hang Out!

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: Photography By Anne

Olive relaxes by the door, intent on her chew bone, but with one eye trained on the parking lot. Expecting a few friends for cookies and drinks, the two-year-old basset hound, a Hilton Head Humane Association adoptee, frequently plays hostess at Tail-Waggers, Hilton Head Island’s exclusive gourmet pet bakery and gift shop.

A cross between a small boutique and a department store for pets, Tail-Waggers is jam packed with everything your best friends want and need: gourmet pet treats, premium food, interactive toys, adorable pet apparel, beds, leashes, collars and grooming tools, plus innovative gifts for friends of the human variety. You’ll also find a bereavement section offering items of comfort such as memorial candles, prayer flags, books, frames and cards for those who have lost a beloved pet.

Store owner Abby Wirth says she makes a point to carry unique items and product lines that are not available at the pet superstores, concentrating on both quality and value. But what truly sets the business apart is her genuine affection for animals and their owners and a desire to make their lives happier and healthier.

GOODY, GOODY!
The cornerstone of the business is the pet bakery, stocked regularly with fresh, hand-baked and decorated cookies. “It’s like a health food cookie for us—our cookies minus salt, sugar and preservatives. You could eat them if you needed to,” said Wirth. “To the human palate, it tastes like a very bland, hard cookie.” (Yes, she’s sampled them!) “Nothing overly delicious for humans, but the dogs love them.”

In addition to the bakery items, she also carries packaged treats geared more toward dogs with allergies or food sensitivities as well as low-cal crackers for canines watching their waistlines. And then there are bones… Tail-Waggers’ bone shelf includes all USA made chew bones: bully sticks, flossies, pig hooves, knuckles, pig tails, elk antlers, etc. What more could a dog want?

While the bakery is a palate pleaser and the bone department a big draw, dogs cannot live by treats alone. At Tail-Waggers, you’ll also find a selection of premium brands of dog and cat food, including Wellness, Solid Gold, EVO, Innova, California Natural and Merrick. “All the foods we sell are made with human grade ingredients—no glutens, no byproducts,” said Wirth. Confused about which one to buy? Wirth and her staff are knowledgeable about nutrition and can help you make the right choice for your pet.

FOR THE FUN OF IT
Beyond food and treats, Tail-Waggers has a huge supply of toys and games, including intelligence building Hide a Squirrel and Intellibone. One of the most popular toys, the Chuckit ball launcher, may not build a lot of brain power, but it’s great fun. The fetch game (perfect for the beach) allows you to throw the ball over and over again without wearing out your arm, Wirth explained.

Other beach essentials include travel bowls and bottles, poopie pick up bags that attach to the dog’s leash, Fido Floats, reflective vests and a light that twists onto the dog’s collar for night safety.

Tail-Waggers’ exclusive clothing selection for dogs includes raincoats, dresses, bathrobes and T-shirts. For a special souvenir or to make a statement about island living, ask about the Hilton Head Island dog outfit of the year.

SOCIAL NETWORKING & SPECIAL EVENTS
According to Wirth, bringing her own pets to work is part of the relaxed, friendly atmosphere she encourages, and she invites employees and customers to do the same. “We’re super pet friendly,” she said. “During the summer, we’ll have a dozen to two dozen dogs per day just coming in off the beach. They get a drink and a cookie. That’s a huge part of our business.”

The social scene gets even hotter on Tuesday nights when dogs and their owners gather for Yappy Hour from 6-7 p.m. “It’s good if you have a puppy, to get them socialized, or if you’ve just adopted a dog, to get them used to being with people and other dogs,” said Wirth. (While you’re there, Wirth suggests signing your dog up for the birthday club. It’s free and includes discounts and other perks. And when it’s time to celebrate the big day, ask about parties, cakes, hats, favors, hostess gifts and other special services.)

From Memorial Day-Labor Day, in cooperation with the Hilton Head Humane Association, Tail-Waggers hosts adoption day every Sunday from noon-3 p.m. “All of my dogs are shelter dogs,” said Wirth, who puts her money where her heart is by donating a portion of her profits to the local animal organization.

In addition to Yappy Hour and adoption days, Tail-Waggers sponsors a variety of special events throughout the year, including the annual “Howl-O-Ween” costume contest and Easter biscuit hunt.

“All of our events are free. It’s a PR thing, but it’s also to have fun with the community,” said Wirth. “We have a very loyal local following,” she said, adding that she has had the same staff since buying the store in 2005. “We’re a little family. We know all the customers and their dogs,” she added.

And that’s what it’s all about—developing personal relationships and ultimately building a better world for people and their pets.

Tail-Waggers is located at 1 N. Forest Beach Dr. in Coligny Plaza. For more information, call (843) 686-3707 or visit online at tail-waggers.com.

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A FEW CATTY REMARKS

Hi. Fifi here. If you think Tail-Waggers is just for dogs, you’ve got another thing coming. The truth is most of us cats are homebodies, and we’re just not that into socializing. I personally prefer to shop online at Tail-waggers.com. But I frequently send my staff down to the store at Coligny Plaza to pick up some of that divine Yeowww brand organic catnip. (That stuff really sends me.) And then there’s the dried bonito flakes by Cat-Man-Doo—simply to die for!

When it comes to entertainment, the crinkle tunnel is the cat’s meow; scented bubbles are fun to chase, and those catnip-laced plush toys just drive me wild. When I’m ready to wind down, I settle in with the new Catnip DVD. It’s up for an “Acatemy” Award, you know.

While I’m not fond of baths, if I must have one, I insist on Earthbath shampoo. It’s all natural and leaves my fur shiny and soft. Smells like wild cherries. My people seem to like that.

I detest car rides, but when I must leave home—say to go to the doctor—I request Rescue Remedy. It’s made from flowers, so it’s safe—calms me down without giving me that drugged up feeling. No hangovers, either. Try it. You’ll like it. (My dog friends use it, too!)

Don’t miss the picture frames, mugs, books, gift items and more. Take my word for it. Tail-Waggers is the purrrfect place for all your feline needs. If you don’t believe it, have your people call my people at (843) 686-3707.

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