The Wagging Tail will close for good after 23 years in Tribeca

The Wagging Tail, which for a decade held doggy court at Greenwich and Franklin in Independence Plaza and later moved to Worth Street, will close at the end of the week. Keith Durst, who opened the shop in 1997, said business is down 80 to 90 percent, and he couldn’t bear to watch it die a slow death.

“It’s incredibly sad and emotional because it’s a business that we love,” said Durst. “We didn’t close during Sandy, we didn’t close during 9/11, but this time it’s the uncertainty. With Sandy, we knew we would get power back. After 9/11 it was so awful, but there was certainty amongst New Yorkers that we would rebuild. This thing, the fear is so intense, and you are just flying blind. I can’t see an end to it.”

Durst was living on the Upper East Side as a 20-something with a Siberian husky when his doorman started timing his dogwalker’s outings. At the end of every work day, there would be a note on his door with the report. When the scheduled “45-minute” walks got down to 6 minutes, Durst knew he could do better. He found the space at IPN — 4000 square feet for $7000 in what had been a billiards hall — along with an enthusiastic landlord and a loyal clientele — many of whom he still has. Some of his employees have been with him this entire time as well. He moved to 77 Worth in 2008 when rents skyrocketed at IPN.

During 9/11, he had one of the only businesses that was functioning below Canal since he had dogs there that people couldn’t pick up. During Sandy, they had no power but they kept the business going, in the dark.

He met his wife at the shop; they raised their daughter here (until the family was forced to leave their apartment after 9/11 and retreat to the West Village); his parents both worked with him on occasion; their most recent dog in a long line of pets is Moxie, who was born at Animal Haven. (That’s their cat Mo, on Durst’s desk at the office.) The business and the family were fully intertwined. “It’s been such a big part of our life — closing is not something any of us ever considered. Two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

With everyone working from home for the foreseeable future, his business no longer served a purpose. And in an odd way, he wouldn’t expect anything else. “Especially in times of stress, having your pet at home is the best possible thing. And the best situation for a dog is to be with its family all the time. We become part of the family over years, but given a choice, I personally am going to keep my pet at home with me.”

In the immediate future, he is turning his client list over to his staff so they can do whatever they can to get paid directly, and customers can still work with people they know and trust. And for the long-term, it won’t be easy to start again, and Durst is not even sure he wants to. But there’s a chance that if he could find the right building developers, he would partner with them to create a residential amenity. But he takes the work seriously. It will have to be the perfect fit.

“It’s not just running a business, to take care of people’s pets. It requires an emotional part of your soul to do it, and to do it right. We’ve had this business all these years because of how much people love their pets, and how much comfort they give. That’s why we’re here.”

 

3 Comments

  1. The Wagging Tail was where I took my dog, Jello, when I first got her. It was a comfort taking her there knowing she was cared for and loved.
    It breaks my heart. You guys were one of the first doggy daycares in the neighborhood. You will be very missed. Thank you for your years of love.

  2. This is so sad. I had taken my then senior dog to Water4Dogs and walked by there weekly – I always thought I would use them if I got another dog. Sad to see them go

  3. I’d planned on leaving my dogs at The Wagging Tail in two weeks. I didn’t know it had closed. I used to travel a lot and left my dogs there then after a break I’d planned on traveling again. I’m disappointed to learn the news. We will miss you.

Comment: