Most pet owners can agree that we typically treat our furry friends better than we treat ourselves. We invest in the highest-quality foods, treats and gear that keep our beloved canines and felines happy and healthy. Amanda Wilbourne, owner of The Nautical Dog, is no different.
“I promise no one is as picky as I am when it comes to deciding what my animals eat,” laughs Wilbourne. The founder of the boutique pet shop is adamant about educating clients on the importance of pet nutrition. After her late corgi, Roxy, developed a skin allergy from ingesting dog food with questionable ingredients, Wilbourne began studying the effects of certain diets on house pets. Wilbourne put her newfound knowledge into practice and transformed The Nautical Dog into the Peninsula’s premier stop for everything dog and cat with a focus on all-natural eats.
Wilbourne first opened The Nautical Dog in 2006 as a humble gift shop in nearby West Point. In 2008, the shop transitioned to Williamsburg’s New Town Shops. Wilbourne’s move to Williamsburg allowed her and The Nautical Dog team to assume community partnerships with local charities and shelters such as the Heritage Humane Society. For over a decade, The Nautical Dog has hosted events that support the society’s mission in rescuing animals and finding them a forever home.
Two years ago, The Nautical Dog made its third move to its current home in a larger, more colorful suite in New Town Shops. The bigger space allows the boutique to operate as a full-fledged pet store stocked with a host of dog and cat foods, animal milks, toys, pet-themed gifts, a smattering of locally curated items, collars and much more. There’s even an in-house “feline CEO,” Ollie the store cat, who greets visitors and frequently poses for pictures.
Wilbourne notes that first-comers often mistake the shop as being a high-priced pet store, when in reality, you get more bang for your buck at The Nautical Dog than you do at big-box retailers. “All of our foods are sold at MAP pricing, which is the lowest pricing available,” explains Wilbourne. “We have a frequent buyer program too, both online and in-store. All food is buy twelve, get the thirteenth free. We have our own rewards program as well that lets shoppers earn one point per dollar that can be cashed in for the item of the month.”
In addition to the all-natural and EU-certified pet foods are the wildly popular Cookie Bar and Bone Bar. At the cookie bar, owners and their four-legged family members (pets are welcome in the store!) can mix and match their favorite flavored treats. A few staple flavors are always on deck, but other specialty flavors rotate seasonally. Frequent visitors can receive a discount too if they bring in their empty canister to refill. More eclectic options reside in the back of the store at the beloved Bone Bar. “We also refer to this as the body part table because everybody part you can think of is on that table,” says Wilbourne.
Arranged neatly on the tiered table are freeze-dried salmon skin, curly bullies and monstrous bones, just to name a few. The Nautical Dog boasts over 100 chew options. “We have a variety of exotic treats that are harder to find. We have rabbit, venison, octopus, quail and alligator treats. We have a lot of different proteins that you don’t typically find in a treat.”
Whether you’re a first-time pet owner or vetted cat- and dog-mom, Wilbourne encourages everyone to come out for The Nautical Dog’s biannual Customer Appreciation celebration. The two-day event will make its yearly debut on Saturday, Jan. 30 and Sunday, Jan. 31 with BOGOs, door prizes and a slew of other surprise happenings that have annual visitors lining up outside as early as 6 a.m. Wilbourne adds that if you spend $75 during Customer Appreciation, you receive a huge bag valued at $150 or more.
At The Nautical Dog, you can trust your pet will receive access to only the highest-quality products as Wilbourne handpicks everything sold on the boutique’s shelves. “If I wouldn’t feed it to my own pet, I won’t sell it.”
Learn more about The Nautical Dog at NauticalDogWilliamsburg.com.