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Deb Collins

Deb is a New Zealander, aka Kiwi, who lives in Maine with her husband, Mike, and her happy-go-wiggly Labrador Retriever, Ted. In 2011, Deb launched her own online business. HappyME, to celebrate happy Maine stuff and exploring Vacationland with your dog. Deb will be blogging about everything dog and sniffing out fun things to do with your wag. More at HappyMEstuff.com | On Facebook at www.facebook.com/HappyMEstuff | Follow on Twitter @happyMEstuff

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Posted: October 16, 2014

High-tailing it at Southern Maine’s dog-centric Inn By the Sea

Meet uptown dog, Atticus, from New York City and his woolly brother, Radley. These lucky “Wuzzles” are in doggie heaven when they vacation at Inn By the Sea.

Written by: Deb Collins
View from Inn By The Sea

Inn By The Sea, Cape Elizabeth – paradise for people and their furry best friends.

Six years ago, when Karen Reisler and David Ballon of New York City first visited Inn By the Sea, they had no idea that this idyllic resort, on Cape Elizabeth’s Crescent Beach, was also paradise for dogs. They vowed that they would come back the next year and bring their pup.

Karen, David and Atticus

Karen Reisler with her husband, David Ballon, and lapdog, Atticus, in Central Park, New York. Atticus can enjoy off-leash play in Central Park before 9am and after 9pm.

The following year, David and Karen arrived back at Inn By The Sea with Atticus, their woolly, “cafe au lait” colored Labradoodle.

Atticus Headshots-11

According to his doting Mom, “Atticus has human lips and a heart shaped tongue that he likes to poke out when he sleeps.”

When Atticus’s four-paws first hit the sandy shores of Crescent Beach, he was only 16 months old and this was his first view of the ocean.

“Atticus looked at us and then back at the ocean with a look of ‘are you kidding me’ and then ran right in.” said his dad, David.

This was the beginning of a yearly Inn By the Sea visit for the New York family of three. It’s been dubbed by his parents as “Atticus’s vacation” and tends to be in October, when Crescent Beach allows leashed dogs back on the beach for the off-season.

Atticus digs clam shells, beach play and rather fancies himself as a Baywatch life guard. He’s been known to swim out and tow in family and friends if he thinks they need his four-paw assistance. After 5 years of Atticus’s annual visits, the Inn staff and seasonal regulars have come to expect to see him as a furry Inn fixture and some think of him as “the unofficial house dog”.

Meet Atticus

When Atticus checks-in at Inn By the Sea,”He knows he’s home”.

Touted as one of the first luxury hotels to welcome pets, Inn By the Sea has been rolling out the green carpet for dogs for almost 20 years with complimentary dog amenities including water bowls, beach towels, blankets and a cookie turn-down service. Their award-winning Chef, Mitchell Kaldrovich, offers an innovative menu with a new twist on favorite Maine ingredients for the two-legged guests, but tail-wagging guests are not forgotten. A custom gourmet dog menu is available for the canine connoisseur: “Meat Roaff”, House-made Dog Biscuits, “Doggie Gumbo” and “K-9 Ice Cream”. Dogs can dine Al Fresco with their family on the sea-side decks or fireside in the cozy Inn bar. Owners can relax and enjoy the hotel amenities including the luxurious hotel spa or head offsite for dinner knowing that their dog will be safe back at the hotel getting the royal treatment with in-room dog-sitting services and even doggie massages.

IBS Firepit time

Our dog, Ted, warms up at the Inn By The Sea firepit with “cousin” Laddie, from New Hampshire.

Atticus is really a surrogate child for Karen and David. After enduring the heartbreak of numerous failed pregnancies, the couple agreed to look for a puppy. Karen had the concern of dog allergies so she began researching what breed of dog she would be able to live with. After numerous play dates with the golden doodles of friends, they found that this crossbreed mix was not always a good match for Karen’s allergies. The couple then discovered the Australian Labradoodle, a multi-generational hybrid that has incorporated Labrador and Poodle genes with selected Spaniel genes and is considered, by accredited breeders, to be an effective hyper-allergenic dog. Labradoodles were originally developed by The Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia to meet the needs of allergy sufferers who require a seeing-eye dog. The Australian Labradoodle option appeared to work well for Karen, so the couple put their name down on the list with, Country Labradoodles, a well-respected breeder of these dogs.

Courtesy Photo for The Maine Wag from Karen Reisler

Atticus as a puppy – blue eyed and chocolate brown curls.

David and Karen were paired with their pup and at 10 weeks of age their chocolate bundle of fur arrived in New York. Their first born fur-child was named after Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Atticus has continued the “upstanding reputation” of his namesake and graduated as a certified therapy dog for The Good Dog Foundation. He has used his calm demeanor to work with motor-impaired children through a program called Standing Tall and also for local elderly people looking for furry companionship.

Atticus graduates as a certified therapy dog.

Atticus graduates as a certified therapy dog.

This year, when Atticus arrived at Inn By the Sea, he was wagging proudly as he introduced his new 8 month old younger brother, Radley, to his Inn By the Sea family. Radley is aptly named after the character Boo Radley in “To Kill A Mockingbird” and was a happy puppy surprise gift to Karen from David.

Atticus and Radley Ballon, brothers and best friends

Atticus and Radley Ballon, brothers and best friends

I met with David and Karen and what they like to call their “Wuzzles” at the tail-end of their Maine visit. We talked dog while their woolly duo lay politely beside me on the Inn’s deck with an occasional furry nod and wag to Inn staff and other regulars. After our chat, the brothers were ready to stroll the grounds and then demonstrated their wrestling maneuvers on the organic green grass.

Wuzzle Wrestling

“The Wuzzles” love to wrestle. Radley’s nickname is aptly “Bunny Boy” and his big brother, Atticus, is also known as “The Snuzz”.

David and Karen have fallen in love with the Greater Portland area, which they say is, “The most dog-friendly place they know… Atticus is a head turner, we can’t walk 4 steps without people stopping to say hello”.

On their way into the Old Port, sometimes a quick pit-stop at South Portland’s You Dirty Dog is a good way to clean up after sandy beach play. When Atticus gets to Portland’s cobblestone street district, he likes to get his tongue into his favorite frozen vanilla treat from Gorgeous Gelato, Gelato Fiasco or Mount Desert Island Ice Cream. Karen, who is a New York Interior Designer, likes to shop around the Old Port, according to her, Mexicali Blues colorful throws are a practical and attractive way to cover your bed, if your dog sleeps with you.

Family at IBS

Lapdogs and ocean views from the Inn’s rock wall

With fall foliage beginning to glow and harvest decorations all around us, I ask whether the wags will be dressing up for Halloween. Karen proudly tells me that they will be sporting Batman and Robin costumes. She promises to send me a preview photo and it’s no surprise who’s who.

A woolly Dynamic Duo get ready for Halloween

A woolly Dynamic Duo get ready for Halloween

As I finish up my visit to the Inn, I realize that the New York “Wuzzles” will just miss the dog-friendly pool season, when Inn By The Sea opens up it’s pool to guest’s dogs; Oct 14 to the 28th. I’m hoping that next Fall, the Dynamic Duo will stay a little longer and be self-appointed pool life-guards and then enjoy some firepit time with my aspiring Inn dog, Ted.

Inn By the Sea's pool goes to the dogs after Columbus Day.

Inn By the Sea’s pool goes to the dogs after Columbus Day.

Thanks to Karen Reisler and David Ballon and their “Wuzzles” for talking dog with me and sharing their story and to Inn By the Sea for helping raise the bar for dog-friendly destinations.

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