Photo: Aidan Mahoney
Dogs visiting Wüf Pet Spa can have their fur safely dyed.
This story is featured in CityBeat's Feb. 8 print issue, which focuses on pets.
Many people have a special dog in their life. It could be a hairdresser’s chihuahua, or a neighbor’s German shepherd. But for those not lucky enough to have a dog of their own, there are always dogs on the endless scroll of Instagram and TikTok.
Cincinnati has a few doggie celebrities that stand out, including the wash of King Charles spaniels who frequent Queen City Radio and the fanciful fluffy dogs at Wüf Pet Spa. While Wüf has almost 3,000 Instagram followers that hound posts with likes, comments and reshares, Casey Coston at Queen City Radio enjoys the spoils of the canine limelight in person.
“People light up when they see the dogs’ faces, that is, until they start misbehaving,” Coston says. “But generally, the dogs are pretty good. It’s all ‘Just pet me, just give me treats!’”
Casey Coston, who works at QCR and with Urban Expansion, the company that redeveloped the QCR property in 2015, got his first cavalier King Charles spaniel, Zelda, around 15 years ago.
“I was highly skeptical of this breed at the time, having grown up with larger dogs,” Coston tells CityBeat
. “My only experience was in grad school at Georgetown when my Park Avenue housemate had an aging Cavalier, Taffy, who promptly piddled on my floor the first day I moved in. But, well...you know, a Cavalier’s face can melt your heart within seconds, even faster than it can piddle, so there’s that.”
Coston says Zelda became a canine celebrity in Over-the-Rhine by meeting passersby on the street, guarding the bar at QCR and getting likes and love on Instagram.
“Zelda eventually became a regular at Neon’s (now Rosedale) when it reopened in 2010,” Coston says. “That really started the whole ‘bring your dog to the bar’ shtick in OTR. Neon’s was a hub, and Zelda usually sat in a chair on the patio or on a bar stool inside, oftentimes judging people.”
“She was a diva and my full time companion in OTR. She lit the Christmas tree in Washington Park in 2014, as I recall,” Coston says.
Zelda’s frequent appearances and local acclaim back in 2010 apparently set a platform for Cincinnati dog-fluencers to come. Jonny and Jessie Casey, husband and wife and co-owners of Wüf Pet Spa, started their dog-grooming business in 2018.
The couple says they developed their deep shared love of animals when they met while working at a PetSmart around seven years ago. At Wüf Pet Spa, the Caseys take the inherent adorableness of dogs to another level with pet fur dyeing, a practice that has increased engagement on their Instagram account, especially when they post dogs dyed with Bengals-esque orange and black stripes and team designs.
“The typical beginner look is tails and ears getting colored, which is cute, but at Wüf we can turn it up a notch and turn your pets into other animals or creatures,” Jessie Casey tells CityBeat
. “Recently, we’ve enjoyed the hype around the huge success the Bengals have, so we’ve been getting requests to turn their pets into Bengal tigers. We’ve really enjoyed that.”
Photo: Provided by Casey Coston
Casey Coston, owner of Queen City Radio, sits with his dogs Pleakley and Bentley.
The Caseys say they opened Wüf because of their shared experience of growing up with multiple dogs.
“We had always felt their uninterrupted love, how unconditional it was,” Jonny Casey says. “We love to pamper these pets as if they were our own.”
The Caseys currently have two children and seven dogs, their very own dog pack.
Coston also knows the value of a dog pack, having adopted four King Charles spaniels – Merlin, Remington, Pleakley and Bentley – since Zelda. Each dog has made an impact at Queen City Radio and in Cincinnati through social media and local events, Coston says.
In 2022, Coston helped launch the first Bengaldog Parade to celebrate the team going to the Super Bowl. His two remaining dogs, Pleakley and Bentley, walked in the 2022 parade last year to much acclaim and will do so again on Feb. 11.
“While the Bengals did not make the Super Bowl this year, they certainly came close. And as the old saying goes, ‘Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and dog parades,” Coston writes in a press release for this year’s event.
Coston, who says he brings Bentley and Pleakley to work most of the time, enjoys the reactions his beloved pups receive at events, at work and on social media.
When asked why he thinks dogs are lapping up all of the attention on social media, Coston said, “I mean, they’re better than narcissistic selfies!”
Jonny Casey at Wüf has a different thought.
“Dogs capture our hearts, from Lassie to Wishbone,” Jonny Casey says. “They make us laugh and smile when the news or social media is negative.”
Casey Coston and his King Charles spaniels, Over-the-Rhine. Info: instagram. com/caseycoston64; Wüf Pet Spa, 1812 Race St., Over-The-Rhine, and 18 N. Fort Thomas Ave, Fort Thomas. Info: wufpetspa.com and instagram.com/wufpetspa.
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