By Robin Jovanovich
Claudia Baker first got to know Rye in 1998, when her brother Sam and his wife Collins moved here after having their first child. She was just starting her in-home massage business and all of Collins’ friends wanted her to give them prenatal massages.
Fast forward to 2007, when Claudia was giving a message to the woman who’d opened All Paws Gourmet Pet Store five years earlier. “Lynn was interested in selling and, without much thought, I offered to buy the shop. I had my first Black Lab, Murphy, and the fit seemed perfect,” she recalled.
“I have had four dogs in my life: an English Setter as a child; Murphy, who made me a Lab lover for life; Rory, a Yellow Lab, whom I rescued a few months after I lost Murphy; and lastly, Brodie, a Black Lab from a breeder,” she said. “I am a lover of all animals, with two rescue cats at home as well as Rory and Brodie.”
Customers, new and old, come into the Purchase Street shop looking for advice on everything from dog food to behavioral issues. Claudia says she’s always happy to try and help with the knowledge she’s acquired. She only carries foods, treats, supplements, and supplies that she’s determined are the best ones on the market.
“I spend a great deal of time researching a food manufacturer before I bring it into my store,” she explained. “I’m not interested in any food that is mass- manufactured, as it increases the chance of cross-contamination and recalls. I prefer dealing with small, well-established manufacturers that have proven track records of quality and sustainability.”
She’s heartened to say, “I’ve helped dogs with seizures, anxiety, aggression, arthritis, and cancer through multiple CBD applications. I have also held many new dog owners’ hands through the puppy months, including helping them curb the nipping issues that can interfere with bonding with family members, especially the kids.”
Her best-selling treats are beef-wrapped bully sticks and wood-smoked beef bones. She stocks the largest collar collection in the area, along with matching or complementary leashes. Toys are also big sellers, and she works hard to find ones that are made in the USA. “Ninety percent of the ones I carry are made in America and my customers really appreciate that.” She continued, “I always get a kick out of a new customer coming in and gushing about how I have the most amazing pet store with the best toys they’ve ever seen!”
Dog owners often bring their pups with them when they shop at the store. “In an average week, we probably have close to 30 four-legged guests visit. Rory and Brodie are always happy to have visitors and welcome them warmly. give them a warm welcome,” Claudia
“We also have our regulars — Isabelle, a beautiful Corgi, Rosie, a Norfolk Terrier, and Maggie, a Rescue mix, who visit us almost daily. I enjoy seeing our regulars, and genuinely worry when a few days pass and I haven’t seen them.”
While Claudia Baker is not an expert, like a good veterinarian, she has a calm and reassuring manner and whatever question a customer has, she will try to answer it. If she can’t, she will refer you to someone who can.
All Paws is a big draw for dog owners, because it’s a place where everyone knows your name, and your dog’s name. Your dog gets a pat and a treat before going off to pal around with the big dogs, and you have Claudia’s full and genuine attention. It’s one of those small-town experiences that never gets old.