Shopping in downtown Rochester goes to the dogs

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published May 12, 2015

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ROCHESTER — You don’t have to wait until the dog days of summer to bring your four-legged friend to downtown Rochester.

Nearly 20 downtown Rochester merchants are now officially welcoming dogs.

Stephanie Hellebuyck, events coordinator of the Rochester Downtown Development Authority, said downtown Rochester is already a dog-friendly place, and now more of its businesses are, too.

“Already, when I shop down here I see dogs in stores, so I think this just brings attention to the fact that we are dog-friendly. … I know so many shop owners that bring their dogs to work with them,” she said. “We are kind of capitalizing on something that already exists down here.”

In fact, Hellebuyck’s 6-month-old golden retriever, Cooper, can frequently be seen inside the DDA office.

“Rochester is so dog-friendly,” she said. “Bringing my dog into the office, every single person that comes in here ends up on the floor petting my dog. I think we have always been like that, and there are always, always animals at our events.”

Shopping with dogs seems to be a growing trend in the area, according to Hellebuyck.

“It’s something we have always kind of seen out here. Now we are just deciding to capitalize on it and promote it,” she said. “It just seems to be a growing trend.”

Dog-friendly downtown businesses will be marked with a window cling, a sitting dog holding a shopping bag, to show that dogs are welcome inside.

While Rochester does not currently have any businesses that specifically cater to dogs, Hellebuyck said a Three Dog Bakery will be opening at 422 Main St. later this summer. Three Dog Bakery offers all-natural puppy and dog treats, food and biscuits.

Since South Street Skateshop moved to Main Street in downtown Rochester five years ago, owner Linda Gallaher said it has offered a bowl of water for dogs by its front door.

“You wouldn’t believe how many bowls of water we go through in a day. It’s amazing. People do appreciate it. They love the fact that there is water and they can bring their dog in,” she said. “Generally, weather permitting, we have our doors open, so people wander in with their dogs on a leash, of course, and we don’t mind it at all. We are very receptive to the idea of people bringing their pets into the store.”

Like South Street Skateshop, Hellebuyck said other dog-friendly businesses will have labeled Downtown Rochester water bowls outside.

When shopping downtown, dog owners are asked to use their best judgment, keeping their pets on a 6-foot leash at all times and making sure they have the most up-to-date vaccinations. Hellebuyck said dog owners are also responsible for the behavior of their dogs and must clean up any droppings left by their pets.

“Just keep in mind your dog’s personality when you are coming down here. If you have a dog that is kind of aggressive, having them shopping with you might not be such a good idea,” she said. “Also, bring everything that you need for them, because we obviously don’t want a bunch of doggie accidents up and down Main Street.”

She also reminded patrons and their dogs to be respectful of the Leaders Dogs for the Blind dogs-in-training.

When asked about whether the policy might be troubling to some people with dog allergies or who are afraid of dogs, she declined to comment.

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