CLINTON — Julie Rotondo knows that if she were to go away on vacation or for a long weekend, she’d want her best friend, Ernie the greyhound, to join her and husband David rather than be confined to a kennel.
It was with that thought, and her love for animals in general, that Rotondo decided to open her pet-friendly bed and breakfast — Beatty Bed & Biscuit at 21 Beatty Ave. — last April 1 at the house where she’s lived for almost 40 years.
Some years ago the Rotondos constructed the small addition onto their home to serve as a mother-in-law suite. After David’s mother lived there for a time, the Rotondos’ sons took turns using it as their “bachelor pad,” Julie said. But when the two boys became men, moved on and started families of their own, the Rotondos rented the small apartment to a woman employed by Hamilton College. When she moved on to find a bigger living space, Rotondo said it was time to think of ways to re-purpose the addition.
“When you’re a renter, you never know what you’re going to get,” she said.
So after some minor remodeling, and waiting to receive their sales tax number and insurance, the Rotondos were able to open their business in early spring last year.
Rotondo describes Beatty Bed & Biscuit as a “comfortable, pet-friendly, two-room suite with private entrance and fenced in yard.” Located on a quiet side street, Rotondo notes that her bed and breakfast is quite close to the Village Green at the center of town, as well as local shops and restaurants. She even provides guests with a three-ring binder that contains menus and information on area attractions.
The suite is located on one floor, with a private bath, with hair dryer and amenities. There’s a queen size bed with Tuft & Needle foam mattress and fold-out couch to accommodate four comfortably. The kitchen area has a small refrigerator, Keurig coffee brewer and microwave. An electric fireplace warms the living area, with a 55-inch satellite TV for entertainment, free WI-FI, air conditioning and private parking.
Beatty Bed & Biscuit is for dogs and not quite equipped to take on felines. Rotondo said her business asks that all dogs be up-to-date on their vaccines, flea/tick medications and are housebroken. Pets cannot be left alone in the suite.
Throws are available to cover the sofa, chair or end of the bed for pets’ comfort and furniture protection.
Rotondo does not prepare breakfast in the morning. Rather patrons are welcome to help themselves to a variety of coffee, tea, hot cocoa, fruit, yogurt, cereals, muffins or doughnuts.
“I bake them (customers) something, or if it’s a really hot day during the summer, I’ll go to a local bakery and get danishes or pastries,” Rotondo said. “There’s always a fruit bowl too.”
The bed and breakfast also provides dishes, cups, glasses, tea pot, paper plates, napkins and utensils.
“We found that most customers would rather stay on their own schedule for breakfast or go out and get it on their own,” Rotondo said. “And many just like to be able to grab a cup of coffee and something quick and then head out on the road.”
After noticing many patrons would bring in their own coolers, Rotondo said she invested in a slightly larger refrigerator where she keeps milk, cream, cheese and some other small perishables for customers’ convenience.
A customer who traveled from Arizona in the fall “ran the fireplace all day and all night — she wasn’t used to the cold of central New York,” Rotondo laughed. “But she loved it so much, she hated to leave here. What’s nice is that the fireplace can be used for heat, or you can just simply turn it on and have the ‘flames’ going.”
For the canine guests, there’s a private fenced-in yard where dog owners don’t need to worry their pets will mingle with Ernie, the Rotondos’ mellow, retired racer from Florida. During the winter months, a path is always shoveled out back for the dogs to roam.
“We had a woman bring her Miniature Pinscher once and she called her Tina Turner. So I said, “Hi Tina,” and the woman corrected me and said, ‘No her name is Tina Turner. So I went on Facebook and said we had Tina Turner in the house,” Rotondo laughed. “Here I thought we’d mostly see smaller dogs, but we’ve gotten everything from pit bulls to boxers stay here, and for multiple days.”
She said, “In the beginning we wondered if the barking would bother the neighbors even though our nearest neighbor is up the street. But when the dogs are here, you don’t even hear them. We had a dog stay here once who just loved going outside to watch the squirrels run around.”
Inside the private bath, past the bedroom with original barn wood wall, there are a variety of soaps and toiletries, and Rotondo even thought to provide toothpaste and toothbrushes in case travelers forgot to bring their own.
“I tried to think of all the little things I would want to find if I were to stay somewhere,” she said. “I just want everyone to be comfortable and for this to feel like home.”
By some of the customer comments left in her guest book, it appears Rotondo is achieving just that. Rotondo said she always invites patrons to sign the book and leave any suggestions that would help make their stay or her business better, “but so far there’s nothing they want me to change.”
“We had a great stay on our way to Vermont,” wrote one guest. “It’s so friendly and heart-warming.”
“What a wonderful place and what a beautiful place to stay,” wrote another.
And “Your attention to every detail was amazing,” was another comment.
While there is much clientele associated with Hamilton College and area schools, guests commonly stop at the bed and breakfast in between final destinations, such as a couple who was on their way to Maine and decided to stay a second time on their way back, Rotondo said. Otherwise she has hosted patrons from four different countries and the longest stay was her guest from Arizona who stayed eight days.
Because the Rotondos’ dogs were always treated as family, Julie said she understands how important it is for some pet parents to bring their dogs along on their travels and adventures.
“If we ever went anywhere, we preferred that our sons or mother-in-law watched the dogs, otherwise they went with us,” Rotondo said. “And now, we don’t want to leave Ernie alone, and we would never leave him in a kennel.”
Working for dogs and pet-friendly people can be hard work, but Rotondo said she’s finally found a job she loves.
“It’s a job, but I’ve had jobs where I’ve sat at a desk or cubicle, and this is so gratifying,” she said. “I’m happy doing this and I just love seeing all the dogs.”