All Paws to the Rescue

By Robin Jovanovich

Over a decade ago, Claudia Baker was giving a client a massage when the woman turned to her and asked if she knew anyone who might be interested in buying her established pet store business in downtown Rye.

While Rye wasn’t a hop, skip away from northern New Jersey, where Baker lived, she knew and loved the store and the town, and thought why not!

A few months after taking over All Paws, Baker started adding her paw prints to the gourmet pet boutique. “I cut back on the super pricey merchandise and brought in quality U.S.-made products in a range of prices,” she said.

Not only does Baker help dog and cat owners find the best food and accessories for their furry friends, she also offers training tips and support. In a number of cases, a family didn’t give up on a problematic pup because she helped them work on the dog’s behavior, and their response.

She loves the days when children come in after school and ask her advice about the different kinds of treats she sells. Many families hold birthday parties for their beloved pets, and because every good dog deserves the occasional treat, All Paws stocks freshly baked ones.

“This store is like a family,” says Baker with a smile. Many customers bring their dogs, which thrills Rory, the Yellow Labrador Baker adopted a little less than two years ago. “He was in desperate need — of love and training — and he had me at woof,” said Baker who was recovering from the death of her very special Black Lab, Murphy.

While Baker is helping shoppers choose the right size coat or collar, don’t be surprised when Rory comes over to offer his assistance. He brings you his latest toy and you soon find yourself playing tug-of-war.

One question many longtime clients and customers have asked Baker is: Do you give massages to dogs? “Other than my own, very rarely,” she answers matter-of-factly. “Not every dog is comfortable getting more than a pat or a hug.”

This week, just back from the Pet Rescue luncheon at Apawamis Club, Baker, who wears her affection for four-footed creatures on her sleeve, is thinking of all the ways she can help more dogs find good homes. She already sponsors ads for the Humane Society of Westchester in this paper, and contributes to a number of pet causes, but she’s now planning to donate 10 percent of every $100 sale to the many animal shelters.

Meanwhile, a customer calls and says she’ll be by in five minutes to pick up her order. Baker, “thanks to a generous landlord”, now offers curbside pickup. And the first of many children walks in to browse the large selection of Mother’s Day gifts — hats, mugs, T-shirts — and cards. Rory rises from his afternoon nap to help.

Caption

All Paws owner Claudia Baker with Rory