By Ahren von Schnell • Photos by Ty Kretser
As a longtime animal lover and pet parent, Susan Patnode, owner of Tails of the Adirondacks, has firsthand experience identifying and meeting the needs of our most beloved companions. Her store, a pet food and supply shop located in the Town of Plattsburgh, earned its name when her husband, an avid hiker and admirer of the forever-wild charm of the mountain trails of our region, had the inspiration for its memorable appellation.
Initially motivated to open a pet-based business by her enduring affection for animals, Patnode had hoped to offer an indoor coffee house and dog park, but with guidance from the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Plattsburgh she was persuaded to consider a retail-based operation that would provide a more stable revenue source.As it happened, another local pet food store was planning to close its doors at about the same time, which opened a niche in the area pet food and supply market. Despite many larger competitors in the region, Tails of the Adirondacks has thrived for 17 years. This is, in no small measure, due to Patnode’s full-time commitment to its success.
One of the keys to this has been her clear philosophy on pet nutrition. She emphasizes the importance of promoting healthy, fresh and hydrating whole food options for both dogs and cats. She believes incorporating super foods and rotating a variety of proteins into the pet’s diet is critical to its well-being, and urges pet owners to adopt this approach, rather than just a diet of dry kibble. Patnode believes that small changes can lead to a significant improvement in the pet’s quality of life. She suggests, “Feed less ultra processed dry food and introduce small amounts of high-quality animal protein. Offer your animals small fresh, low glycemic pureed vegetables. Dogs can enjoy small bite-sized pieces of fresh fruit (no hard rinds, pits, seeds, stems, or cores) You can also add plain, no sugar added xylitol free yogurt or kefir to your pet’s diet. I always suggest offering one new thing at a time and introduce new things slowly.”
Patnode also emphasized the importance of feeding one’s pet a high grade and species-appropriate diet. The importance of quality cannot be overstated as it directly influences health and longevity. Since there is no single, perfect diet that will work for every pet, Tails strives to offer a wide range of options, from complete and balanced raw diets, to gently cooked, freeze-dried and dehydrated diets, as well as canned foods, grain inclusive and grain free dry foods.
She also encourages pet owners to add nutritious, pet-safe bone broth to meals. A large selection of premade broth can be found at Tails, but she noted pet owners can also make their own at home. And to round out any dietary gaps, Tails keeps a variety of pet supplements and treats in stock, so pet parents can be assured their animals are having all their nutritional needs met.
In order to offer the best nutrition guidance to customers, it is important for Patnode to stay current on developments in the industry, including emerging best practices. To this end, she invests a significant amount of time following and learning from pet professionals. She also connects with other professionals through a variety of platforms that facilitate the exchange of recipes, product tips and guidance on general care and nutrition.
Her passion for dog training inspired her to earn a certificate from the Animal Behavior College as a certified dog trainer. She keeps her skills honed by taking classes and attending seminars every year.
An important resource Patnode relies on are industry trade shows which provide a trusted forum for learning, networking and sourcing. But she noted her greatest resource is other pet owners, “When we openly share experiences, products and information, everyone benefits!” she offered.
This perspective has allowed Tails to develop a reputation for excellence among pet owners in the community. Patnode emphasized, “Tails is not just a retail store. We have become a valuable resource for people and their pets. At Tails, we take the time of listen and get to know our customers and their pets. We believe in networking and in supporting other businesses. We advocate for regular vet care, professional grooming and dog training that is positive, consistent, fun, and fair! We have wonderful pet professionals in our community and I am honored to be able to work closely with so many of them. We understand how important it is for pet owners to get the support and guidance they need.”
Asked what makes Tails unique, Patnode responded with enthusiasm, “It is our staff! They are amazing! Each one is an animal lover and they are passionate about what we do. Rachel Frederick, who manages our day-to-day operation, has grown and evolved in her role. She is knowledgeable, kind and patient and a tremendous asset to Trails.”
The success Tails of the Adirondacks has enjoyed over the years is a tribute to Susan Patnode’s love of animals and her commitment to offering what will give them their best possible lives, through healthy food and treats and the fun toys to enrich their play time.
Tails of the Adirondacks
770 Route 3, Sute 1
Plattsburgh, NY 12901