The Nautical Dog Story
The Nautical Dog is Williamsburg’s only local, independent, and family-owned pet shop.
Amanda Wilbourne opened the shop originally in West Point, VA, in 2006 at the ripe old age of 20. In the beginning, The Nautical Dog was a gift shop, with a smattering of collars and treats, but mostly gifts for people. At her side were her faithful four-legged friends, Roxy (Corgi) and Brownie (Chocolate Lab)…and her brand new husband Kyle. Together they grew the business, and in 2008 the store moved to Williamsburg, VA, in the New Town Shops.
Amanda quickly became involved in local events, particularly with the local animal shelter, the Heritage Humane Society. She conducted dog-friendly events at the store, most of which were fundraisers for the shelter (annual Halloween costume contests, May the 4th Be With You, Kiss-A-Bull, to name a few). During this early time in New Town, Corgi Roxy started developing horrible hot spots…after many months of vet visits and isolation diets, the trigger was found: beef. Amanda began realize how hard it was to find high-quality pet food for allergy-sensitive pets. Customers who loved seeing Roxy in the store were happy to see her recovering from the nasty skin condition and were surprised to learn that food could cause such allergies. And so the transition began…
To help Roxy, Amanda started studying pet nutrition through an online course and through researching different pet foods. What she found shocked her and changed her life, and the store. She began stocking small quantities of the high-quality food that she was feeding Roxy (Primal Petfoods, everything except beef!). Customers started buying, saw the results for themselves, and like wildfire, the good news spread. By 2014, The Nautical Dog was a full on pet store, although still stocking plenty of gift items for pet parents. The store is now bursting with high-quality food, treats, and chews. Everything in the store must meet her high standards: if she would not feed it to her own pets, she will not stock it in the store. Amanda personally selects every food, treat, and toy sold in the shop.
During that transition time, another cataclysmic event happened…the arrival of shop cat Schwartzy. The most amazing cat ever, Amanda adopted him from the Heritage Humane Society in 2012 at age 12. He was friendly to all (even the little kids who poked him), and yet feisty to the dogs, and immediately ascended to CEO status. He was/IS adored by all. He passed away late summer of 2018 at age 17 after a valiant 12-month fight against cancer. In his 6 years at the store, he attracted a HUGE following and led The Nautical Dog to the feline side. The store now has a large cat section with loads of treats, toys, and collars. There is a new feline CEO, Ollie Cat: and it took him a few weeks to come out and meet everyone, but when you come in, you will find him snoozing in his cat tree or playing with his laser—or meowing for more food, because he is very hungry, all the time.
Unfortunately, our furry friends have short life spans, and in 2015 Chocolate Lab Brownie passed away from pneumonia. People who love their pets know the devastation this brings, and to try to fill this hole, Amanda adopted a senior hound Elvis, who had languished in a shelter for over a year. Elvis came out of his shell and knew the happiness of a loving home for his last 6 months, before he died suddenly from a burst tumor. Amanda then adopted Arrow, a Blue Tick Hound that had been abused before being picked up by a shelter, and happily Arrow has been enjoying the good life (and LOADS of treats) for several years now as the daughter of a pet store owner.
Elvis, Arrow, and another sweet hound named Saint, were all adopted by Amanda through Ring Dog Rescue, a Pit Bull/Hound rescue based in Richmond, VA, but serving surrounding counties. Ring Dog pulls dogs from kill shelters where they might otherwise be euthanized, and socializes and trains them so they can be adopted and have a happily ever after. Saint, like Elvis, only had about six months with Amanda before he succumbed to cancer also, but at least he died surrounded by love.
Late summer 2018, Corgi Roxy passed away: she was 13. Roxy had been with Amanda from the beginning, her constant companion day after day at the store from the beginning in 2006. Again, the gaping hole left by these amazing animals only inspired Amanda to rescue again (Roxy and Schwartzy died within weeks of each other). Ollie, the new CEO cat, and Beau, a beautiful Red Bone Coon (also adopted through Ring Dog Rescue) have helped ease the pain. Ollie is there every day, and Beau and Arrow are often there behind the counter too.
In 2016, a 2-legged child, Aidan, had also come along. You will often see him in the store, he is a great greeter, and hopefully someday will learn to stock the shelves 😊 And yes, we really do let him eat dog cookies, that’s how healthy and delicious our dog cookies are.
The store moved from 5104 Main Street to 5102 B Main Street in October 2018. It was with a somewhat heavy heart after the losses of Roxy and Schwartzy. Amanda and her husband designed and built the new space, which is almost twice the size and enabled her to bring in even more high-quality foods, particularly more raw foods, and hold more events in the store (paint nights, toy making workshops, movie nights).
After many years on her own, Amanda is now supported by an enthusiastic staff who will love to talk to you about finding the right food, treat, or toy for your dog or cat. They have a vast knowledge of pet nutrition, and after years on the job at The Nautical Dog, they know which toys and treats to recommend and are happy to share their experiences, and listen to yours! Come in and bring your dog (or cat), and let us earn the privilege of being your favorite store.
Kind Words from Our Human Customers
This is a great little shop where everybody is very friendly and helpful. Found soft treats for my pup and she absolutely loves them.
Nautical Dog loves pets. They sell quality foods and accessories. They are why we buy local if possible.
Amazing little store with plenty of fun things for your pets and pet lovers.
We Love Talking About Pets! What Questions Can We Answer for You?
Come see us, give us a call at (757) 220-2001, or fill out the form below.