By Bernadette Hogan |
RUMSON – There are 110 pups in the small Seabreeze Cleaners of Rumson. But in nearly 12 years, not once has a bark or whine escaped from the dry cleaners at 91 East River Road.
The dogs are owner Corinne Ford’s darlings, assembled in a large photo collage in her one-story shop. Ford has been photographing customer’s dogs for as long as she can remember, and the store’s left wall is a showcase of the local spaniels, corgis, dachshunds and beloved mutts.
Certain furry friends are “frequent fliers,” sure to snag a treat upon entry, while others only come in for the photo op.
The wall of canines got started when Ford made the connection between her customers’ companions and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School’s mascot. RFH’s mascot is a burly, purple bulldog, and the stadium cheer is “Go Dawgs!”
“I started by posting RFH sports articles on the wall,” Ford said as she motioned to several clippings detailing Rumson-Fair Haven high school successes. “One day somebody brought in their dog and I took a picture, thinking: this is a top ‘dawg’!”
Names are very important to Ford. She catalogues the pups with names like Duffy, Charlie, Violet, Mini (who is huge) and Trudy with their owners’ accounts in her computer system.
And they are never forgotten. “A lot of people have moved, or passed away, but I never take a picture down.”
According to the borough clerk’s office there are 738 registered dogs in town. When Ford gets to meet a new one, she’s ecstatic.
“We got a new puppy. His name is Captain,” a customer revealed as she picked-up her dry cleaning and counted lollipops for her children. “I added a layer of chaos to my day I probably don’t need. We still have to crate him because he’s destructive. I’ll bring him in tomorrow.”
Ford’s appreciation for dogs doesn’t just apply to the ones that come into her store. The Rumson location – Ford and her husband, Craig, own additional dry cleaner locations in Middletown and Atlantic Highlands – is a “drop-off” store servicing 150 customers, and makes deliveries across the peninsula. However, linen whites and brights aren’t the only drop-offs this dry cleaner encounters.
“A few years ago, a customer’s daughter had a school project and asked if we could hang a sign for collecting household donations for the Monmouth County SPCA. We never stopped.” Ford turned a giant laundry drum into a donation drop which overflows with doggy beds, blankets, and miniature coats.
When Christmas season rolls around, Ford puts up a tree decorated with dog and cat toys that customers can purchase as donations to the MCSPCA. She also collects supplies and funds year round for her special cause.
Lisa Palasciano, a Rumson customer, has been volunteering with the MCSPCA for four years now, starting after her beloved miniature schnauzer, Maggie, passed away.
“I read an article about the influx of dogs at the shelter due to Hurricane Sandy. I felt as if Maggie was sending me a sign and that I needed to do this in order to heal. So I went online and filled out the application,” said Palasciano.
She packs her car twice a month, bringing donations to the Eatontown shelter.
“I finally adopted a puppy from MCSPCA,” Palasciano said. “Thanks to MCSPCA she was saved, she was only three weeks old, living in deplorable conditions in a hoarding situation. Her name is Prudence and she is on the wall at Seabreeze Cleaners. She is my new kayak buddy.”
Although she’s never been asked to dry clean doggy attire, Ford claims she’s open to the idea. Interestingly, she’s never owned a dog. She’s a self-proclaimed cat person and mother of three felines adopted from the MCSPCA.
This article was first published in the Aug. 31-Sept. 7, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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