Massages, truffle tastings and helicopter rides: Inside the life of a Hamptons dog

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On a recent balmy Hamptons night, the tables on the lawn of chic Bistro Eté in Water Mill were full. Men in blazers and women in flowing florals ­eagerly awaited the culinary creations of chef Arie Pavlou.

So did Bubbles, a 4-year-old Coton de Chaleur.
When the dog’s $34 multi-course feast — including bacon-wrapped chicken stuffed with spinach, over which the server shaved fresh truffles, and peanut butter ice cream for dessert — arrived, Bubbles’ owner offered her the first bite off a fork.

Maryam Winston, visiting from Fairfield, Conn., with her husband, appreciated the refined touches afforded her pet.

“The restaurant’s owner made a fuss over Bubbles and brought out a puppy bed, but she prefers to sit on a chair, so they offered her a cushion,” Winston, 50, a COO of a medical company, told The Post.

Babette’s in East Hampton is a favorite of Paul McCartney, Steven Spielberg — and Miffy the dachshund, who enjoyed the organic eatery’s canine menu.
Stefano Giovannini
Tiffany and her dog, Miffy, dine together at Babette's.
Tiffany and her dog, Miffy, dine together at Babette’s.
Stefano Giovannini
Babette's restaurant, is located at 66 Newtown Ln, East Hampton, NY Long Island.
Babette’s restaurant, is located at 66 Newtown Ln, East Hampton, NY Long Island.
Stefano Giovannini

Pampered pooches are nothing new in the Hamptons, but this summer has reached new levels of extravagance. The pandemic-puppy trend means there are more dogs, and dog owners, than ever — and a mini-industry has popped up out east to serve them.

At Naia, a Mediterranean-influenced restaurant within Southampton’s Capri Hotel that has attracted Cuba Gooding Jr., there are even “spa” options — like a blueberry, quinoa and sweet potato  bowl ($8) and frozen apple/carrot bites ($5) — for weight-watching canines.

Babette’s, an organic-centric spot in East Hampton that counts Bill Clinton, Steven Spielberg and Paul McCartney among its regulars, offers free-range chicken ($10) and turkey bacon ($7) among its canine selections.

The Capri, which reportedly has people getting into bidding wars for rooms, has so many four-legged guests that the hotel is unveiling a dog park this month. But first you have to get there: For helicopter or seaplane flights from Manhattan to East Hampton, Blade charges $95 for dogs under 25 pounds and a full-seat charge of $795 for dogs above that weight — which can add up to so almost $1,600 round trip.

Pooches are even welcome at society bashes now.

“There are more events for animals in the Hamptons than ever before,” said Kate McEntee, director of animal relations at the Southampton Animal Shelter, which hosts an August gala chaired by Jean Shafiroff with Georgina Bloomberg as an honorary chair.
Another group planned a “Doggie Date Night” movie screening — complete with cozy blankets plus cookies for humans and biscuits for dogs — of “Best in Show” in Amagansett.

Services abound, from swim lessons to massages. Celebrity vet Dr. Cindy Bressler recently launched Hamptons Veterinary Specialists, offering house calls from canine cardiologists, dermatologists,  acupuncturists and others previously unavailable in the area. They’ll even same-day courier medication from Manhattan to the Hamptons.

“The closest places to get appointments with these specialists was over an hour away with a wait months long, so having them on call in the Hamptons can make the difference of life or death,” said Bressler.

Edward Alava, owner of The Dog Store in Manhattan, has a Mercedes van stationed in the Hamptons to provide services ranging from grooming and massage to getting pups prepped for private plane or yacht travel with a calming lavender bath. Known as “the dog guys,” he and his employees also set up canine spas — complete with “pawdicures” — at human parties, like the one thrown by Estée Lauder Group president John Demsey.

“The pampering has gone up 100 percent,” Alava said of this summer. “We got a call to groom two white Labs. Right after we left, the owners let them out, they jumped in a pond and we got a 911 call to come right back.’’

Marilyn Pelstring’s three poodles — including one purchased during the pandemic — regularly receive $175 massages from Alava’s service. “It’s so lovely to see them relax. They get a little euphoric,” said the 65-year-old Southamptonite.

The three pooches are also treated to $150-an-hour swimming lessons from Randy Herwerger, who owns Aqua Dog.

Alex, a Yorkie, enjoys the doggie menu at Bistro Eté.
Alex, a Yorkie, enjoys the doggie menu at Bistro Eté.
Phill Lehans
Chef Arie Pavlou shaves fresh truffles on the bacon-wrapped chicken entree.
Chef Arie Pavlou shaves fresh truffles on the bacon-wrapped chicken entree.
Phill Lehans
Dog friendly Bistro Eté in the Hamptons.
Dog-friendly Bistro Eté in the Hamptons.
Phill Lehans

“Each one gets his own lesson and then I take them after to Carvel for a cup of vanilla,” said Pelstring, the chairwoman of American Humane, a nonprofit dedicated to the safety and welfare of animals.

And some people like to indulge with their canines: This summer, Bressler, along with massage therapist Jillian McElwee, launched a “best friends” massage. Dog and owner enjoy side-by-side treatments for $350.

“It’s crazy busy,” McElwee said.

Of course there are those who are baffled and even irritated by the omnipresence of dogs and the degree to which they are babied. At 75 Main, where steak and egg whites are among the offerings for canine customers, a woman dining with her husband began yelling at a man enjoying dinner with his pooch.

“Other people joined in and it was getting ugly,’’ recalled the restaurant’s owner, Zach Erdem. The man told the irate woman, “I love my dog like you love your husband” — to which she snapped back: “I don’t love my ­husband!”

Maurizio Marfoglia, an animal activist and dog owner, allows dogs outside during lunch at his popular restaurants, Dopo Argento and Dopo La Spiaggia, but has decided not to have them at dinner.

“Dogs were on the floor in the dark and people were tripping over them,” he told The Post. “One little one almost had its leg broken. Dogs aren’t people and they have different needs.”

Canine behaviorist Lisa Hartman, who is based in the Hamptons, said there is a lot of separation anxiety for pups rarely left alone during the pandemic — but  bringing them into crowds can be problematic.

Standard poodle Delilah gets a massage from Michael Byrne of The Dog Store.
Standard poodle Delilah gets a massage from Michael Byrne of The Dog Store.
Estefany Molina
Edward Alava and Michael Byrne are dog groomers that service Southampton.
Edward Alava and Michael Byrne are dog groomers that service Southampton.
Estefany Molina
Marilyn and her dog, Delilah.
Marilyn and her dog, Delilah.
Estefany Molina

“People bang into them, little ones get stepped on and [dogs of all sizes] get grabbed by kids,’’ Hartman said. That’s why she started an au-pair and nanny service specifically for dogs, at a rate of $50 per hour. “Just like human children, some dogs have too much anxiety to be left alone.”

Which is, no doubt, why shipping heir John Theodoracopulos was spotted holding his pup, Pancake, at dinner at Tutto Il Giorno with socialite Liz Cohen and Princess ­Marie-Chantal of Greece last week.

But, Bressler said, dogs don’t relish the human pleasure of dining out. “While the owner is talking to friends and eating, the dog is often ignored, so you are better off leaving the animal in the comfort of home and giving it lots of attention later. Dogs just don’t like to go out to dinner the way we do.”

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