Pick of Litter: Chuck and Toby’s is Best Pet Boutique

Chuck and Tobys Storefront

Scott Rinehart and Jim Poer have a bone to pick with your dog.

This particular bone comes in nearly any combination of chicken, barbecue, oatmeal, molasses, garlic, cheese and every dog’s favorite: peanut butter. And no pooch would merely pick at it.

“That one’s really yummy when it’s just out of the oven,” Rinehart said, indicating his special peanut butter and cinnamon pupcakes topped with nondairy whipped cream. He ought to know—all of the baked goodies sold in Chuck and Toby’s doghouse-size shop are made with all-natural ingredients, and they’re good and nutritious for both human and beast.

“That’s my lunch sometimes,” said Rinehart, taking a healthy illustrative bite out of a freshly baked biscuit.

Scott eating a dog biscuit

Everyone who’s frequented Second Street and holds his or her companion animal at in high esteem will remember Wiskers, the pet boutique that had a fun run in the Shore from 1997 until 2009.

“I was ready to get out of retail,” Rinehart said of its sale.

Rinehart and Poer sold Wiskers to an individual who didn’t quite get the idea. The little shop, pining away for its original owners, turned over on its back and perished after a couple of years. But Rinehart never stopped baking his specialties and delivering them to places like Roy Robbins Gifts in Bixby Knolls, Cool Dog Diner in Redondo Beach and Maxwell Dog in StudioCity—they’re still sold in all three places. He and Poer’s pet-goodie bakery was then in Signal Hill, waggishly around the corner from Rossmoor Bakery. A year after Wiskers closed, Rinehart had the itch to get out of the warehouse atmosphere of the Signal Hill location.

“The site here [in the Shore] came open, my lease was up, and I was ready to do something different,” Rinehart said.

Chuck and Toby’s opened in its present 400-square-foot location, which would be called “cozy” in a real estate ad. But it’s perfect for this wonderfully crowded store of surprises and treats for pets and the folks who love them. As Rinehart said, every space is in use. The store is a mélange of original, imaginative artwork and pet-themed gifts, accessories for the well-collared cat and dog, and of course, the treats. There’s a grooming salon in a small alcove in the back of the store. And Rinehart bustles around like Jacques Torres in the little kitchen he brought with him from Signal Hill, mixing up canine cannoli, sugar-free strawberry jelly tacos, and anything and everything with peanut butter in it. Cats, too, have their own delicacies in the form of dehydrated fresh shrimp, calamari, tuna and salmon. Poer, who is Rinehart’s partner in both business and life, stays in his office and takes care of the business end of the business. If this were Rinehart and Poe’s home, it would be the cottage in cottage industry.

Raymond Anguiano groomer

Chuck and Toby’s groomer Raymond Anguiano

“We’re completely different from Pussy and Pooch, so we complement each other,” Rinehart said of the upscale pet accoutrements boutique a half-block away on Second Street, which was a runner-up in the Best of competition.

Chuck and Toby’s enjoys featuring special events such as Two-for-One-Dollar Taco Tuesdays. But Rinehart has no desire to go on beyond Mayberry. He’s relaxed and enjoying the new incarnation of his creativity. He said that all his old Wiskers customers have returned, and it feels almost like retirement.

You’ve got your new pet, you’ve taken him to the vet for a checkup, and now it’s time for a well-earned treat. Take your new BFF to Chuck and Toby’s for a freeze-dried calamari treat or a peanut-butter something. If you’re lucky, he’ll share.

If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them.

~Phil Pastoret

Chuck and Toby’s is located at 191 Park Ave., Long Beach, CA 90803, (562) 434-8085, between Second and Division streets. Look for the easel sign on the corner of Second Street and Park for the day’s specials.

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Virtually Pets

9 Lives for $9!

Want a cat? Need a cat? Kittens may be cute, but you can stave off the wait time for one to grow up by taking advantage of this project sponsored by FoundAnimals.org. During the summer months, at the low fee of $9, you can adopt one of the many adult cats in shelters in Long Beach, the city of Los Angeles, and L.A.County. All of the cats have been altered, vaccinated and microchipped and may be seen on the program’s website http://wwwfoundanimals.org/9lives. Click the link above and chose your new BFF, or check out the candidates below from Animal Care Services, 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach 90815 (The full adoption process will be adhered to with this program.)

male brown tabby

Male brown-tabby-and-white domestic shorthair, about 2 years old, waiting for a name. As for ID#A471907

Orange Cat

Male orange-tabby domestic shorthair, about a year old, also waiting to be lifted from the ranks of the anonymous. Ask for ID#A471821


Where’d ya get them peepers? Suzie is a female calico-and-white domestic shorthair, about 4 years old. Ask for ID#A471067.

Breaking Pet-Lines

Patio Dining for Dogs Policy Passes

Leash up Rover and tie on the feedbag. On Tuesday, July 24, the city council voted unanimously 7–0 (council members Andrews and O’Donnell were absent) to approve a policy implemented by the city’s Health Department to allow dogs to dine with their owners on outdoor patios.

“This policy is an optional policy for restaurant owners,” said Vice-Mayor Robert Garcia at the meeting “This is really just providing choices for business owners.”

The policy was sponsored by Garcia and co-sponsored by council members Suja Lowenthal and Gary DeLong, with input from BelmontShoreactive activist Justin Rudd and resident Cookie Braude. Its creation hinged on the definition of food service, relaxing the rules to not include the outdoor dining area if the full range of service, i.e., preparation, sanitizing, plating, isn’t carried out there. The policy includes specific requirements such as a separate entrance to the patio so that the dogs will not have access to the interior of the restaurant; proper signage, personnel training and education for dog owners will be required; and hygiene practices. Dogs will also not be allowed to sit on or at the table even if they know which is the salad fork and which is for entrees. The policy will be reviewed after a year.

Reaction from neighborhood associations and residents has been largely positive. Lowenthal said that she sees it as “not only another bump in the dog-friendly city but also a way for businesses to expand their customer base and marketing opportunities.”

Councilmember Gerrie Schipske quipped (I think it wasn’t in earnest) that there’s a class-action suit by cat owners who figure that if cats have to be licensed, they should be allowed on the patio as well, but no one I know is worried, because we all know that most cats wouldn’t want to spend precious nap time on a dog-filled patio even if tuna were served straight from the can. And although I am looking forward to dining with doggies, not everyone is delighted about the passage of the policy, but we do hope that people will keep the policy running by being more vigilant over their dogs’ behavior than some parents are of their children’s. Next Pick of Litter (and I’ve been holding on to this one until the policy decision) will be the Best Place to Dine with Doggie. Runners-up will be mentioned as well.

For a complete summary of the policy and adjunct documents, click here.

Click here to view our policies covering the Long Beach city council.

Pet Projects

Summer Safety Tips for Pets

As the weather continues to make up its mind, Long Beach Animal Care Services (LBACS) shelter veterinarian Margaret Lee has some words of advice for when it’s in a heated mood. Here are a few simple tips to keep your pets healthy and safe when summer sizzles. Most of them are good counsel for humans as well!

1. Adjust their exercise routine. Walk dogs when temperatures are cooler, either early in the morning or late in the day. Shorten walks if necessary, and avoid runs on hot days—dogs will keep running even if they’re overheating. Cats tend to restrict their own activity in the heat better than dogs do. The ideal temperature for cats and dogs is between 60 and 80 degrees.

2. Know the warning signs of overheating. Symptoms include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, weakness, or collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Animals with flat faces, like pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heatstroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

3. Let your pet go au naturel. Any clothing on pets during the summer will trap excessive heat and may contribute to overheating. Dogs and cats cool themselves by panting; they don’t have sweat glands on their skin but on their paw pads. Cats do not pant under normal circumstances; if your cat is panting, he or she may be extremely overheated or stressed, and immediate action should be taken.

4. Be cautious when walking your dog on pavement and at the beach. The hot pavement and sand can burn and blister your dog’s paws just as it would your own. Asphalt temperatures can reach 160 degrees. Keep dogs on lawns [and respect the homeowners], or have them wear booties if they will be on asphalt or sand.

5. Make sure your pet has plenty of access to shade and clean water when outdoors.

6. Never leave your pet unsupervised in a car. The temperature inside a parked car can reach 200 degrees and higher within a matter of minutes, even with the windows open. Please contact the shelter at (562) 570-PETS to report an animal that is locked inside a parked car.

7. Make arrangements for pet care if you will be out of town, including proper nutrition, appropriate care and a secure environment. All pets in Long Beach are required by law to be licensed, and one of the benefits to licensing is the vacation pet alert. Before leaving town, pet owners with a current license may call (562) 570-PETS to register where and with whom their pet will stay with while they are gone. Make sure that your pet wears proper ID and is microchipped. This helps to ensure that they are returned home in case they get lost.

8. Make sure you know the number of the emergency veterinary hospitals in your area. Take a few minutes to drive by your local emergency veterinary hospital so you can be sure you can find it in an emergency when you may not be thinking as clearly as on an ordinary day. [Here is a listing of a few in the Long Beach area:

Long Beach Animal Emergency, 4720 E. PCH, Long Beach, 90804, (562) 735-5200

VCA Lakewood Animal Hospital, 10701   South St., Cerritos, 90703, (562) 274, 7289

Crossroads Animal Emergency and Referral Center, 11057 Rosecrans Ave, Norwalk, 90650, 562-653-6915

The goal of Long Beach Animal Care Services is to make Long Beach the safest large city in California for people and animals through the promotion of responsible pet ownership and recreation.

Foster Classes for Foster Parents, Sunday, Aug. 5, 10 a.m.–noon, P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village Auditorium, 7700 E. Spring St., Long   Beach 90815

Foster pets need temporary loving homes, and you can help a pet better his or her chance at adoption! spcaLA is looking for foster parents for pets of all ages and needs. Potential foster parents must fill out and submit an application prior to attending a foster class, available here. We provide the pet, food, and materials, and you provide the home. 

Shoestring City Ranch Summertime Animal-Assisted Reading Program, Sunday, Aug. 19, 2–3 p.m., 1003 W. Carson St., Long Beach 90810

If you watched ABC’s Secret Millionaire on July 8, you’d have seen Shoestring City Ranch receive an award for the wonderful programs they do for the city’s youth. One of them is the assisted reading program, which will take place next month (more sessions can be requested for weekdays). Experienced volunteers will work with kids on their vocabulary and help them to improve fluency, literacy and confidence as they read to farm animals. For information, call (562) 685-6270 or e-mail [email protected].

Donations Needed for Animal Care Services, Pitchford Animal Companion Village, 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, (562) 570-PETS

ACS thanks everyone who provided donations for their wish list! The list has been further winnowed down; if you feel generous or just have any of the following items around your house, bring them to the shelter (and take home a pet, if you are so inclined!).

  • wet food for cats and kittens     
  • wet food for dogs and puppies     
  • Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls. See examples here.
  • Hand sanitizers to carry in apron pockets (about 20)
  • Two trash cans for our play yards that open with a foot press. See an example here.

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