A Swaggy Wag

Dog lovers will want to sniff out the new and squeaky clean Wag Central, a daycare and more for our canine best friends. Located in nearby Stratford, the center offers boarding, daycare, training, socialization, swimming, grooming and playtime. Owners can even make healthy organic dog biscuits in its canine café. The space is so open and bright that any sense of guilt about leaving your dog dissipates. If anything, you might start thinking of going to a spa.



In cowboy boots, a nod to her Texas roots, owner and dog lover Angela Pantalone gives a thorough tour of her center. She describes as “boutique concierge level.” One look confirms it: open pens with white fencing, a pool with a below-water-level window, outdoor play park, sleeping huts with piles of colorful pillows, spa tubs that raise and lower, grooming equipment in open salons, and more. To bring the best thinking to Wag Central, she visited dog-service centers around the country.


Every decision is about keeping dogs happy and calm. For example, they get regular exercise and play partners are matched by temperament. In the pool, paddle coaches and life vests encourage even reluctant swimmers. “Twenty minutes is about max,” says Angela. “If you come in with an excited puppy, swimming is a great way to use up puppy energy.” You know it’s working because it’s so quiet, but you’ll enjoy seeing the photos texted to you throughout the day.


For extended stays, dogs enjoy the sleep huts in a separate room. It has homey touches, like a TV on in the background and a person to soothe the dogs. And great news for dogs who don’t like the fourth of July: sound proofing.


The place is also clean thanks to removable floor panels, floor drains, trenching systems and nonporous wall and floor treatments. Angela lists dozens of considerations that provide fresh surfaces and odor-free air. She knows them all because, she says, “I GC’d the whole job and now run it.”

Training classes are not out of the ballpark either. A summer special of six private classes, for example, ran $400. Not bad compared with the Valentino pumps that won’t be chewed to smithereens. The fall session starts in September.



The entry to Wag Central is a mix of industrial and park. “We bring the outdoors in,” Angela explains. Light and bright are just starters. Support beams look like white birch trees. Tree stumps are transformed into polished tables. The floor is concrete; the ceilings, warm wood. Dog-friendly details are  everywhere. Take for example the café door flap; it features holes that are height and size of the average snout—an inviting welcome for dogs to sniff out and receive a fresh biscuit.


Such wag-inducing thoughtfulness makes one wonder about who did the creative work. The design nod goes to Patrick Briel—and he’s not easy to fence in. Born and raised in Paris, he’s enjoyed multiple avocations: writing and public relations, yoga and meditation, economics, law and philosophy and, of course, design. He settled in the United States in the late 1980s to work for various design stores, including Lillian August. Most recently, he launched Tripka Design (www.tripkadesign.com). “Tripka, an anagram of Patrick, was a nickname I was given in the French Caribbean,” he explains with ceaseless good humor. “Ka is creole for big drum…you know what trip stands for.”


Adept of the Chinese philosophy, martial and healing arts (Yi Ching, acupuncture, Wu Shu and Tai Chi), he serves a complex brew of his work. He explains it this way: “a Hi-way of Life, its dimensionality in time in addition of space, De-Sign language is transmission of ‘vecu’, a vaccination against poor lifestyles, an inspiration to a higher plane of communion with your surroundings.” That may mean that the spaces he creates are soothing, or perhaps maybe meaningful in multiple ways—and maybe your head is cocked to the side in the universal expression of, “Huh?”

“Andre Malraux explained that most painters were mad because they were trying to fit three dimensions into two. My own goal is to add the time factor to a 3D space, tell a story with a picture, add movement to stillness,” he says. “To achieve this, besides becoming an avid gardener and working with plants, aromatherapy, I also dedicated a big part of my work into creating the objects needed to achieve seamless design capsules.”

A dog’s thinking may not swim in such deep philosophical and artistic waters, but you are sure to appreciate the dog-bone-shaped lighting fixtures and mirrors.

“Given the existing building, with its 70s vibe,” his concept “was to dig right into it” and channel cartoons like The Flintstones and The Jetsons. “[They] were the perfect operating models, to quote Bob Marley, ‘in this great future, you can’t forget your past.’ ”

Here’s where he ties it all together: “Prehistoric nature, or animal instinct, meets futuristic nurture, or state-of-the-art care and recreation, a world where human can finally be equal to their canine friends and where both live, learn and evolve together. This blended alternate reality becomes a welcoming platform and refuge for same-minded people and a model for the reformation of our society as a whole.”

He concludes: “That’s it, in a nutshell.”

Think of it this way: Wag Central looks natural and fun, but its modern technical advantages contribute to treating dogs with dignity and love.

Briel applies a similar approach to all his jobs. “Kind of like the ‘chop champion’ show sometimes,” he says. “Using leftovers can often be the perfect way to usher perfection. Transformation needs somewhere to start. At any rate, I only do boring when it’s a surprise.”

This much is certain: You are in for a very welcomed surprise at Wag Central. See it at 8 Hathaway Dr., Stratford, www.wagcentralct.com.

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