The Beachcomber

Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun (in the Water)

Destination: Dog Beach and Specialty Store
By MARIA SCANDALE | Jul 13, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Mad dashes for the water, energetic doggie-paddling – pups aren’t that much different from kids in their race to soak up summer. In Beach Haven, they have their own beach, on the bay at the south end of the Taylor Avenue bayside beach.

Watching this seized opportunity is entertaining – and sometimes challenging – for their humans. Dogs have all kinds of reactions to the bay water.

“Maybe Wimberly needed to get used to it,” recalled retired veterinary technician Brenda Riley of Manahawkin, while looking at other pets there. “I kept him on a leash because it was his first time, but all he did was kind of go in circles and watch the leash in the water, and was like, ‘What? What? What?’”

“Our first dog was pure pit and she would kick and kick, but she just sank,” conversed a photographer who was at the beach on an assignment. “So she got a life vest.”

Larry Chaityn was there at the dog beach just south of the Bay Village and Schooner’s Wharf complexes the week before the Fourth of July, looking a little disappointed. There were no other dogs that hour. This was not a good thing. The family’s 4-month-old Belgian malinois, Maya, wanted to play.

At their other home in Manhattan, Maia lets off steam in Central Park every morning.

“You can take dogs off-leash until 9 a.m. in Central Park,” Caityn said. “There are probably 100 dogs in different areas of the park. There’s a group of about nine of us who meet there.”

Soon a French bulldog ambled tentatively onto the sand with its owner, and the scene changed dramatically. Maya and her instant playmate launched into what dogs do in Central Park – as Chaityn described, “bang into each other, nibble each other, wrestle, fight for the ball ...”

*   *   *

Back in a far northeast corner of Schooner’s Wharf awaits everything any dog would need to be happy in and out of the water.

Buddy’s Pet Stop and Gift Shop owner Maria Cetrola, a Staten Island transplant to Barnegat, travels to shows around the country to choose natural and organic food and supplies that are safe – and can’t be found just anywhere.

There’s an entire wall of nontoxic dog toys that float – plus lifejackets.

“We also have a complete line of pet shampoos and sprays, because after you come out of the bay, you’re going to need a good bath – and they’re all natural.

“We are fortunate to be right near the dog beach, which helps us greatly,” she said of the store that has been there for 18 years. “People trust the location; they trust what we sell here. They know that dogs are our first priority – and cats; we don’t want to forget our cats, because we love them.”

Little 16-month-old Carter Frazier loved the stuffed dog by the counter. He bent down to kiss it. The family was visiting from Matawan.

Real dogs are allowed in the store, by the way.

Hitting a highlight from a dog’s point of view, the biscuit bar is the pet equal to a human’s gourmet candy store.

“This is our biscuit bar, which we are kind of famous for,” Cetrola introduced. “Let me let you smell this ...”

“I want to eat one right now” was the reporter’s instant thought. It was apple crisp, one of several flavors that are handmade for the store.

“We also have these custom cookies, natural, and hand-baked for us in New Jersey,” Cetrola continued.

Natural, organic and made in the USA are priorities.

“We try and carry things you can’t find in the big box stores. We also have a lot of fun stuff for humans,” Cetrola said, pointing to statement shirts and  pillows (“Dog Hair, Don’t Care”). “We have custom bandanas, handmade, and custom-made pillows. You send me a picture of your dog and whatever you want the pillow to say, and I can make a pillow for you.

“It’s actually a fun place to come; people can spend an hour in here and see all the unique things that you don’t find anyplace else.”

The shampoos and sprays include an oatmeal line and a probiotic-based line. Below that on the rack was the Insect Shield towel to cover the dog on the beach, designed to achieve what its name describes.

“We also carry a really cool Aquapaw, which allows you to bathe your dog inside or outside ... we carry a complete line of grooming, as well as a lot of custom LBI items, from magnets and stickers, to collars and leashes, to ornaments that are made only for Buddy’s.”

Cetrola likes to support products made by small businesses, as her own store is a small business. Animal rescue is another “pet’ cause. The animal rescue One By One gets 100 percent of proceeds from the jewelry case that holds nice $10 items.

Cetrola grew up in Staten Island and moved to Barnegat 12 years ago. She had been a vice president of an advertising company in New York.

“You know how you always hear people say, ‘When I hit the Lotto I’m going to rescue a dog or start a rescue’? I knew that I wanted a change and I wanted to help animals in some way,” she recalled.

“I wasn’t sure how to do it, and I discovered this business was for sale, and I knew the owner and he was wonderful. We had a couple of conversations, and I decided this was where I wanted to be.

“I could help the animal rescue and I could educate people on what to give their dogs, how to walk their dogs, how to make sure they’re being groomed properly, and it makes me and, I think, everybody else happy.

“I get to play with dogs all day,” she added. “It’s the best thing in the whole world. I love that I retired down here.”

All that tail-wag-worthy merchandise and much more are in store. See the website for more information, call 609-492-8900, or best yet, stop in at 325 Ninth Street, Suite A-4 in Schooner’s Wharf, Beach Haven. They’re open all year.

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