Finding a strong community amidst the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple can be a challenge, especially when you want to bring your four-legged friend along! Enter Waggle NYC, the ultimate source for dog parents to discover pup-friendly locations, events, services, and more around New York City.
Jessica, the driving force behind Waggle, is also a mom to Buster and a life-long dog lover. We were thrilled to sit down and chat with her!
J: Buster is just too cute. How did he come into your life and how did you know he was “the one” for you?
J: Growing up, my family always had dogs and I was obsessed with them. In 2012, my childhood dog, Trixie, sadly passed. I felt that I needed a pause before welcoming a new dog. By late 2016, I knew I was ready to open my heart and home again. I began the process looking at local shelters for a male puppy, but struggled to find one that didn’t shed. I also wanted to avoid puppy mills as we knew how bad they were.
Our family friends had an amazing labradoodle from Cream Puff Labradoodles in South New Jersey so I called them and learned about the two remaining males left in their most recent litter. That weekend, I drove to the countryside to meet these sweet pups — one black and one brown. Upon arrival, the black one continued sleeping, but the brown began attacking my shoelaces and immediately wanted to play. He seemed to be a bit of a trouble maker, but I decided he was the one!
J: I love that he almost picked you in a way! I’m always curious about the story behind our DIG dogs’ names — how did you decide on the name Buster? What makes him “Most Dramatic”?
J: I’m a huge Ghostbusters fan and wanted to name him “Buster Brown,” which has ended up being just Buster. He’s “Most Dramatic” because he’s always seeking attention and can be quite vocal about it. If he wants you to pay attention to him, you’ll know.
J: That makes so much sense and I adore his Ghostbusters leash — how on brand of him! What do you love most about him?
J: He loves stealing socks! He also likes putting his paws on the keyboard so I’ll stop working.
J: What’s your favorite thing to do together? What makes Buster the happiest?
J: Buster loves to play tug of war or fetch indoors with a tennis ball, but he also loves to play at the park with other dogs! He loves chasing and barking at squirrels too — he thinks he’s really tough! There’s an area near our apartment with a squirrel nest that Buster goes nuts for.
He also likes Nina Ottosson dog puzzles and snuffle mats for mental stimulation in addition to physical exercise. Buster gets bored easily, so these puzzle toys keep him busy! Trixie was more like a cat — independent and lazy — but Buster always needs to be doing something.
J: What are Buster’s favorite treats?
J: He loves scrambled eggs, apples, pasta, and lettuce. I also really giving him treats from the “Lazy Dog Cookie Company.” All of their ingredients are human grade and their treats smell SO good. We love the strawberry smoothie and smores flavors. We also like Stella and Chewy’s Wild Weenies treats, and Holi Chow’s treats! You can throw them in the air and make it rain!
J: As a seasoned dog owner, what’s your health care philosophy? How do you keep Buster healthy?
J: I think you have to be really aware of what you‘re feeding your dog. Trixie was the runt of the liter and had a lot of health problems as she got older. When she was around 7–8 years old, her heart started to fail. She was on Viagra (weird, I know!) when she was 9 years old, and the vet didn’t think she would make it, but she did and lived for a few more years. That’s why we’re super conscious of Buster’s heart health.
In addition, I also focus on making sure he maintains a healthy weight and I try to be as educated as possible on everything I feed Buster. The most important thing is focusing on portion control and what we’re feeding him. We fed him Hill’s Science Diet for his sensitive stomach based on the vet’s recommendation for a bit, but when we did a lot of research we found that Hill’s has had lots of recalls and was an older dog food brand that wasn’t as trusted. I switched Buster to the Farmer’s Dog and always make sure to know about the brands we feed him.
J: Great advice! Finally, what tips do you have for new puppy parents? Is there anything you wish you could tell your former self?
J: I would say definitely know about the breed and do a lot of research about their specific needs (i.e., more stubborn, more energetic) — don’t just go by the description from the breeder, shelter, or rescue. Puppies are HARD work for the first six months. Training is so difficult and nerve-wracking. You question yourself a lot, but so many people have a similar experience and you come to understand that a lot of the behavior is normal. Buster was a bit of a nipper when he was younger, but we got a great trainer who supported us and taught us how to handle it.
It’s almost like having a baby! It’s important to be aware of what you’re getting into! It’s all worth it in the end as they’ll be your best friend, but it can be tough.
Thank you so much, Buster and Jessica! We loved hearing about your escapades and tips for other proactive pet parents. We can’t wait to introduce you to more of our amazing DIG dogs and their paw-rents. Learn more about DIG Labs today!