The Central West End is home to many restaurants, galleries, boutiques and sidewalk cafés. It’s also home to Wolfgang’s Pet Stop — a family-owned, neighborhood business that’s been providing exceptional dog grooming, training, and daycare services to our community for more than 10 years!
Back in 2004, owner Beth Ruppel saw the need for a local pet shop in the CWE, and she’s been taking care of your four-legged-friends ever since.
Wolfgang’s has been a part of the CWE community since 2004 — why did you decide to open your business in the CWE?
Beth Ruppel: Without a doubt, it was the pet-friendly vibe of the Central West End that inspired me to launch Wolfgang’s Pet Stop in this neighborhood. I have lived here since 2002. After we adopted our german shepherd-corgi mix, Wolfgang, it became clear that something was missing from the neighborhood. At the time, there really weren’t any local options for products or services for our pets. If you wanted to buy a bag of food for Fido, you couldn’t order it online and have it shipped reasonably; you might go to the grocer, but they didn’t have much in the way of quality pet food brands. The same was true for pet services. Dog daycares were unheard of and I’ll never forget the confusion in an architect’s voice when I told him part of my business plan was to incorporate a pet bakery. “You’re going to bake for . . . dogs?” If you needed something for your dog or cat, you were fighting interstate traffic to get to the nearest box-chain pet store! I couldn’t guess how many times I thought, “someone should open up a CWE pet stop,” before it occurred to me to become that person.
What kinds of services do you offer at Wolfgang’s?
Beth Ruppel: We offer the dog grooming services in our salon, dog daycare services on the upper level, dog training on weekends, plus we offer a small selection of quality pet foods and treats. A few of our treats are unique to Wolfgang’s Pet Stop, as my husband bakes fresh, healthy cookies each week. We also offer neighborhood pickup and delivery services.
Tell us about your team of pet professionals.
Beth Ruppel: Among my initial challenges starting the business, particularly because I am not a pet groomer myself, was trying to find and create a team worthy of building my reputation. I could write a book about this experience! But now, my team is my pride and joy. They make my vision a reality! I have three wonderful, experienced pet groomers that have been with my company for at least 4+ years and as many as 11 years! Together, they have decades of experience under their belts making pets look beautiful. My support team is also incredible. I’m lucky to have a group of people that are as hard-working and compassionate as this job requires! And they all embrace our mission to build relationships with our clients (two and four-legged alike).
You’re about to launch your Small Group Obedience Classes on February 23. What can people expect during these sessions?
Beth Ruppel: Our small group obedience classes are taught by Patrick Ferland Dog Training. One advantage of our group classes is when we say small group, we mean it! We may have as few as 3, or as many as 5 dogs and their people, in the group. That means that in addition to the class curriculum of basic obedience that coach dogs to produce reliable behaviors, like walking on a loose leash and commands like ‘Sit’, ‘Lay’, ‘Come’ and ‘Drop’, there is still enough time to spend some time one-on-one with the trainer to address personal goals. Students won’t get the same attention in a class with a dozen other dogs.
Why are obedience lessons so important?
Beth Ruppel: I have a couple thoughts on this. First, I giggle a little inside when someone tells me that their dog is already trained, but when they ask their dog for a behavior in my store, the dog is just far too distracted. Then they assure me they are perfectly trained in their living room when they have a treat. Well, that’s good I guess… but that’s not usually where you need the training! Every person is able and should practice obedience at home where it’s easiest, but eventually they have to bring those skills out into a world filled with distractions if they ever want to really feel the benefits of a well-behaved dog! Training classes give you an environment with controlled distractions and a trainer with a lot of tricks up his or her sleeve to help guide you! It’s about developing new techniques, offering the dog new challenges, and adding some enrichment for both human and canine.
Second, I firmly believe training brings the person and the dog closer. Everything about dog training is about improving communication and expectations between the dog and its human. The better the training, the tighter the bond. Many people get to the point of development when they say (perhaps unconsciously), “Good enough.” But why? There’s no reason enrichment can’t last a lifetime. Training breaks down the language barrier between you and your dog.
What do you love most about being located in the CWE?
Beth Ruppel: Nothing fills my heart more than walking through the neighborhood on a sunny day, dining at a sidewalk café, and then browsing through the books at Left Bank Books. When I see my neighbors and friends along the way, I know their dog’s name and I remember the dogs they once had. They comment on how my daughter has grown and I just love sharing stories with them. You might find me humming the song from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood on one of those days, because that’s the way the CWE feels to me — like a small town within a big city.
Any exciting plans for 2019?
Beth Ruppel: I would love to network more with the CWE community through social events and one-day workshops. I’ve got a list of ideas, which is the easy part. As any entrepreneur knows, the hard part is getting them off the idea board. I think 2019 will see more of these events and networking opportunities.