Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
Most pet-centric business owners are lifelong animal lovers. And while that’s certainly true of Nancy Fedelem, proprietor of Salty’s Dog & Cat Shop on Mississippi and sister store Fang & Feather in the North Portland Kenton neighborhood, for years Nancy loved cats, but dogs . . . not so much.
When Nancy and her husband Matt moved to Portland from California in 2005, she left the corporate life behind. With a Masters Degree in theatre set design, she’d worked as a designer for corporate events and parties. Undecided about her professional future, Nancy helped a friend who had just opened a pet supply store . . . and she was hooked. After six months, her friend — who found she didn’t like retail — sold Nancy the business.
“I love retail,” Nancy says. “I love the animals, the customers coming in with their pets, and being able to help meet their needs.” She also loves the visual aspects — “it totally plays into my love of theatre and design.”
Nancy thinks the look of a store should tell a story and be a friendly environment. Whimsical, warm and inviting, her stores have a look and vibe very much like her own — warm, friendly, and smart.
But back to that thing about dogs. Five days after they married, Nancy’s husband wanted to adopt one. Nancy had always had cats, but had never wanted a dog. They heard about one in a shelter and went to meet him. A Rott/Lab mix named Monk, Nancy says, “I was like, Ugh! He’s your dog.”
But after just a few weeks of training, walks, tail wagging, and sloppy kisses . . . once again, Nancy was hooked. Six months later, they adopted Sharona, a MinPin rescue. They then began fostering MinPins, and adopted Bubby. Soon after moving to Portland, they were joined by Bryan, a “foster failure.” Bryan had been a 5-month-old stray at Multnomah County Animal Services, and was their first dog adopted in Portland.
Sadly, in January of 2013, Monk lost his battle with liver cancer. Nancy misses his sweet face every day. “We had a really wonderful 10 years together, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without his influence. I know Matt feels the same; Monk was his first dog too.”
After a month, they’d had enough of only little dog footsteps in the house. “I spent a little too much time on Petfinder, and after seeing Parker’s photo, Matt and I knew he needed to come home with us.” Adopted from the Pixie Project by way of a Klamath Falls Animal Shelter where he had languished for three months, Parker fit into the family without a problem and started going to work at the stores. “He’s a fixture now at both Fang & Feather and at Salty’s. Customers are sad if I happen to not have him with me and he gets upset if I try to leave the house without him. He’s been a great addition to the family and I know Monk would have approved of him.”
The local pet community met fortune the day Nancy made Portland home; from nearly day one she went about “furnishing” her surroundings with generosity, community love, a commitment to helping, and an infectious spirit of fun.
When asked about her goals for the future, Nancy says, “I’d like to have two days off in a row — that’s a good goal. But all joking aside, continue to do what I’ve done the last 8+ years. Love animals, and help make sure they have the best life they can by providing a business that people know they can trust.”
So how does this wife, mom to four dogs, two cats and two lovebirds, plus owner of two leading local pet stores squeeze in “me” time? And what does she do with it?
Whatever she’s up to, much of it involves giving back. She regularly volunteers in the Boise/Mississippi neighborhoods, and the last four summers has organized an ice cream social, complete with doggie cantaloupe/proscuitto ice cream for 2013. “All the dogs really loved it,” she says happily. “[The event’s] a great give-back to the community. It’s a way for the businesses to say thank you for putting up with a busy business district in the middle of their neighborhood — and it’s the best hour on Mississippi Ave.”
Having become a hometown hero of sorts herself (check out the Yelp reviews for both stores — wow!), when asked who her heroes were, Nancy replied, “It’s not really one person. It’s everyone who does rescue . . . there are so many . . . the Rabbit Advocates, Underdog Railroad Rescue, The Pixie Project. Rescue organizations are my heroes. I love what Amy does at Pixie . . . I love what Larry at Pongo Fund does for so many people . . . I love MCAS — they do so much for the community. The rescues . . . they’re really my heroes.”
A final note about Nancy that might surprise you: “I’m a huge Doctor Who fan. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I can’t resist Doctor Who.” she says. “Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor, is my favorite of the classic series, and David Tennant from the current run. It’s always a good time to snuggle on the couch with my husband and the dogs and watch a little sci-fi.”
Nancy Fedelem, Owner
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance, this year Dec. 9th at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Kristan Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer Mccammon. She lives in Portland with her 3-pack, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.