Story by John Hamilton
Photos by Tom Barr
All dogs have a purpose.
That’s the philosophy of Janet Schultz, the owner and founder of D&G’s Paws and Claw Snack Shack.
The dog-friendly business, on U.S. 68 near I-71, is a place where local residents can get their four-legged friend a healthy treat or a toy, board them, help them become more socialized, and foster stronger dog-human relationships.
The company got its start in 2008 as an attachment with the Hallmark store previously located on Rombach Avenue in Wilmington.
After the store closed in 2012, Schultz moved her business near the I-71 ramps on U.S. 68 — right next to the Wilmington Area Humane Society, a no-kill shelter that recently expanded with a new, larger facility.
Schultz could tell that dogs were her purpose early in life — she has always loved animals, especially dogs, ever since she was a kid on her family farm, where she still lives to day.
“I had an amazing father that taught me a lot about ‘reading’ animals,” said Schultz. “It was a natural thing for me.”
We love our dogs
The percentage of households with dogs keeps rising in the U.S., with an estimated 48.5 percent of all American households — or 60.2 million homes totaling 89.7 million dogs, according to a 2018 survey at animalsheltering.org by the Humane Society of the United States.
With that comes more options for both dog owners and their pets, from more dog parks to healthier food, treats and toy choices, to training and obedience options.
All those options combined with a love of dogs is connected to every aspect of D&G’s — even its namesakes, Schultz’s dogs Diesel and Gunner, who used to hang out with her at the Hallmark store.
The D and the G
Diesel, a mastiff-boxer mix, was her first “store dog” that she described as a cool dog. But he’s afraid of his own shadow.
“He worked at the store a lot. He went through pet therapy training — he failed because he was afraid of everything,” said Schultz with a chuckle. “The reason I did it was to give him more social experiences. I was pretty sure he would never make it through, but it was good for him.”
While Diesel failed in the classroom, he did great in the store — and with the Clinton County Dog Warden. Due to his savviness with other dogs, Schultz said the warden would recruit Diesel to help catch strays.
“There was one time where there was a stray beagle that almost got hit on the road I don’t know how many times,” she said. “I had Diesel in the car, I just parked and Diesel put his head out the window and started barking. The dog came running, and we caught him.”
With people, Schultz said Diesel didn’t seek them out, but Gunner was the opposite.
Gunner — an English mastiff — was a rescue dog that was scheduled to be euthanized who went on to become a therapy dog, especially for terminally sick people in the hospital as well as their grieving families.
“He was very people-friendly; he was also very dog-friendly. But he was definitely the big dog on the block. If he raised his head, the seas would part,” said Schultz. “He was good with dogs. But they knew he was the head dog.”
D&G’s Paws and Claws Snack Shack stocks only healthy treats — a part of that was inspired by Gunner’s own health issues.
“I had to get more involved with what was health food, and what was healthy treats. So, we started doing a lot of nutrition classes for animals, really learning a lot, and I realized other people needed that too,” said Schultz.
After snacks, the store added toys, and then a year later came boarding and doggy day school.
“I swore I was never going to do boarding,” she confessed. “But we started with two older dogs that just couldn’t do well in other facilities because they were older. So, I’d stay here with them.”
Going to school
Doggy day school didn’t get its start until later — it began with a few dogs coming out to hang out during the day.
Now, dogs get dropped off with Schultz and she works with them while their owners go to work.
Being enrolled at the day school is a criterion if you want to board your pup. D&G’s Paws & Claws doesn’t use kennels, and dogs have to pass a temperament test so D&G’s knows they feel comfortable with the other dogs.
One of D&G’s goals was to help each dog find their purpose, something inspired by Janet’s dad, Leo Davis.
Schultz believes each dog has their own individual purpose, from being a protector to simply having fun.
“Some dogs are born to be service dogs. Some dogs are born to be herding dogs or farm dogs,” she said. “I think where we run into problems is when we think every dog should be a house dog and lay around and not experience what they’re bred to do or what they want to do.”
There are levels of classes at D&G’s: Level 1 is impulse control, Level 2 is obedience and Level 3 is the owners proving they can handle their dogs out in public.
After that, the owner and dog will be given their good obedience certificate.
But the main goal is to help form a better connection between the person and their canine companion.
Jennifer Camp’s black lab, Callie, has been getting the full D&G’s experience with training — day school two times a week, grooming and toys. That’s how much they love it.
“Janet and her expert staff provide excellent obedience training workshops at affordable prices and personalize training based on your dog’s needs,” said Camp, adding that Callie is getting great with learning and socializing due to the day school. “Wilmington is so lucky to have D&Gs. Their passion and love for dogs are evident in everything they do.”
Lynn Harris took her dog, Goldie — a mix of Staffordshire terrier, boxer and husky — to classes and feels that it gave her and Goldie a better connection and confidence.
“I truly appreciated these classes. Not because it made Goldie a better pet, but because it made me a better pet parent,” said Harris.
While graduates have picked up differing things from their classes, one theme that has stayed almost consistently throughout the classes is building a relationship.
“No matter what we do, it’s all about building that relationship, trust and respect,” Janet said. “Mutual trust and respect.
“We want the owners to trust and respect their dogs as much as we want the dogs to trust and respect their owner.”
D&G’s Paws and Claws Snack Shack
5356 U.S. Route 68 N, Wilmington
937-366-6558 or [email protected]
Find the business on Facebook by searching for “D&G’s Paws and Claws Snack Shack.”
“I can testify to the impact D&G’s training has on our canine companions,” said Wilmington News Journal staff writer John Hamilton. “I enrolled my black lab mix, Jamie, into D&G’s obedience course, and most of the training has stuck with him.
“How so? My friend Kirsten Astler, who lives close to me, told me a while ago that Jamie somehow got loose from his outside tether. Jamie still has a lot of puppy in him, so when he saw Kirsten walking her dog, Jamie started rushing over toward them. Kirsten yelled — in that dog-parent voice — ‘Stop! Sit!’
“Lo and behold, Jamie stopped, and sat. And was taken home.”
Adopt a shelter pet
Clinton County has two no-kill animal shelters, both staffed by volunteers.
• Wilmington Area Humane Society is located next door to D & G’s Paws and Claws Snack Shack at 5361 U.S. Route 68 N, Wilmington. For details, visit adoptapet.com.wahs.
• Clinton County Humane Society is located near downtown Wilmington at 1760 Fife Ave. For details, visit clintoncohumanesociety.org.