By Jessica Edwards:
Canine Splash, LLC has been getting a lot of attention since they opened this past September. It is a very funky place, with a playful vibe for people to bring their four legged loved ones.
Located in Riverside in what was once a widget plant in the 1920s, the business has made a practical reuse of its original factory setting. At the same time, the re-development of the building has allowed the business to be very green and energy efficient. The pools have a Salt Water Ozone System, which is more effective at killing bacteria because it automatically turns over every 4 hours. There is no chlorine used, and that makes the water gentler to the dogs’ skin and coats. Recycled fans and lighting, durable recycled composite decking, and Eco-friendly paints also contribute to this new space.
Although they had other options, this was the second place that owners Joanne Campagna and Jill Bernstein looked at. They really wanted to stay in the city, and be close to the Peace Bridge. “We’re city people… we wanted to do something cool in the city” said Joanne.
The concept of a recreational pool for pups has been striking the curiosity and interest of a wide variety of clientele. About 10% of their patrons come from the Southern Ontario region. There are serious groups interested in dock jumping training for competitions, and others who just have energetic puppies or work all day. A big draw also comes from people who have elderly dogs or dogs that need rehabilitation after surgery. But, it is stressed that this is not a therapy or assisted swim facility. There is a certified dog trainer by appointment for those customers; however, it really is intended for “swim your own dog” use.
From the most confident swimmers to accommodating the cautious canine, this place seems to have covered all the bases. There are life jackets available, ranging from size extra large to size Chihuahua. They use smaller wading pools to introduce unsure dogs to the sensation of being immersed in water. And, there are stations to dry your pup, and rinse them off if need be.
When the dogs are familiar with the process, they tend to really enjoy themselves. One of their success stories includes a morbidly obese Pomeranian that has dropped 10lbs after swimming regularly. Even, the dense bodyweight of an English bulldog named “Jelly” isn’t too much for the water!
Both Joanne and Jill hold full time jobs, so this venture is more a labor of love. It is evident by how meticulous and personalized everything is. The artwork decorating the walls is a donated exhibit by family friend. The paintings include colorful portraits of Joanne’s 3-year-old Barbet, named Finley and Jill’s 1 ½ year old Curly- Coated Retriever, named Petra. The logo for the company is a cross between Finley’s and Petra’s likeness. When you first walk in, there is a “K- 9 companion” table to support related local businesses.
What is most inspiring about this pursuit is how it came to be. Unfortunate circumstance that bonded the owners was also the catalyst to make this concept a reality. Both suffered recent losses of their beloved parents (David Bernstein and Ellie Campagna), and the deaths left them with the ability to finance this venture. Jill and Joanne mentioned how much their parents loved their dogs, so a place like this is something they would have really been proud of and enjoyed.
During the interview, they had their dogs swimming in the water and couldn’t help smiling while catching glimpses of Finley and Petra playing together. Even if the business weren’t profitable, it definitely wouldn’t be left idle!
402 Vulcan Street, Suite 103
Buffalo, NY 14207
The center is five minutes from the Peace Bridge