New shop in Port takes holistic approach to caring for dogs, cats
Emily Monroe, owner of the newly opened One Wag Natural Pet Supply in Port Washington, is not a big fan of separating the world into “dog people” and “cat people.”
“You hear that a lot, but I love all animals,” Monroe said.
In the interest of full disclosure, Monroe said “for the time being” she has just one pet, Driver, a mixed-breed dog rescued from an animal shelter.
“However, I grew up in the Waukesha area with what you might call a family zoo,” she said of her ingrained affection for animals of all kinds. “I also showed horses and was very involved with 4-H.”
That bond with the many shades of nature grew even stronger during the decade Monroe spent in Montana, where she worked as the general manager of a dog day-care.
“I was drawn to Montana by the natural beauty and the open spaces,” she said.
Her love of nature led her to dabble in making homemade pet treats, and from there came the decision to refocus her energies into opening a holistic pet supply store.
Monroe said she put her interest in making doggie treats “on hiatus” while establishing the store at 126 E. Main St., which opened in December.
A one-person operation for now, she said her family — especially her father Dan, the unofficial handyman of One Wag — did the decorating and set up the displays.
As for the store’s name, Monroe said “it just kind of came to me and it seems to fit.”
She said the inspiration to open the store was similarly rudimentary.
“With so many pets now being considered part of the family, I wanted a store that offers natural, locally sourced products,” she said.
“There are a surprising number of makers of pet supplies from right here in Wisconsin, many of whom are not really well-known here.”
One display shows whimsical, hand-stamped dogs tags made by an artisan from Richfield. Nearby, a selection of CycleDog collars are shown, made from recycled bicycle tires.
BecoBowls feature food and water bowls made from bamboo rather than plastic for pets of all sizes, although Monroe quickly noted the bamboo is not locally grown.
The shop also has items by Cat Dancer, a Neenah company, to keep feline family members endlessly entertained.
“There seem to be fewer places to buy things for your cat than for your dog,” Monroe acknowledged.
When it comes to food or treats, she said, the same approach used for our own healthy diets should be applied to pets.
“I am a big believer in keeping the food we give our pets as natural as possible with no additives or artificial colors,” Monroe said.
“There is a lot of science behind the importance of diet for our pets, just like for us.”
She has only been open for only a few weeks, but Monroe is increasingly convinced she made the right move.
“I have had a lot of people stop in already, saying how happy they are that I’m here and filling me in on the history of the building — all the different businesses that have been here,” she said.
After being a bar for many years, the building has had many other uses, including most recently as a homemade soap shop.
Although she finds that background interesting, it was not the past that drew Monroe to the location.
“I wanted to be in Port Washington,” she said. “There is an energy in the downtown and it seems to be a very pet friendly community. Maybe not so much in January when it is cold and icy, but you usually see a lot people out walking their dogs.”
An array of toys and playthings are offered to keep dogs and cats active while stuck indoors, until more agreeable weather returns.
Monroe said her goal is to be increasingly involved with local pet shelters and to host events for pet owners.
Admitting to having a bias on the subject, Monroe said people can learn a lot from the pets we claim as companions.
“There are so many lessons we can learn from animals about love and loyalty,” she said.
There are no pets for sale at the shop, but four-legged visitors are welcome, Monroe added.
Image Information: EMILY MONROE HAS parlayed her love of animals into a new Port Washington business, One Wag Natural Pet Supplies. At left, the store features a variety of treats, toys and food for pets of all sizes. Above, the store moved into vacant retail space on Main Street last month. Photos by Mark Jaeger