Friday, 14 December 2018
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Nearly a century of dogs (and their celebrity owners) at Weber’s in West Windsor (JEFF EDELSTEIN COLUMN)

Albert Einstein came up with the theory of relativity, but he couldn’t teach his dog to heel.

J. Robert Oppenheimer was the father of the atomic bomb, but he couldn’t teach his dog to sit.

Meyer Lansky was a criminal mastermind, but getting his dog to poop outside was beyond his ken.

What do these, and countless other famous folks have in common? They all got their dogs trained at Weber’s Training School on Route 1 in West Windsor, which originally opened back in 1925 under Josef Weber, who was one of the originators of obedience training. (It was later sold in 1945 to veterinarian cousins Jack Blumenthal and Milton Horowitz.)

“Having a dog trained was not for the average working man in those days,” said David Horowitz, the second-generation owner of Weber’s. “It was an extreme luxury. In the early days, Weber and my father would have a lot of celebrities, CEOs, athletes come to have their dogs trained. Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Sonja Henie, Phil Rizzuto, Rocky Graziano, Governor Hughes, the DuPont family. Then there were some infamous guys, like Meyer Lansky. A couple of characters from New York. Also some locals, like Pinky Costello, Sam ‘The Plumber’ DeCavalcante. But yes, it was for the well-to-do.”

Of course, these days, dogs are a little different than back then. They’re treated as members of the family — no matter your net worth — and many families will spend a few bucks in an effort to keep their most rambunctious member under control.

And so Horowitz — along with his three children, Alexander, Ava, and Michael — continue the obedience training started nearly a century ago.

They also board dogs, which is how I came to know the family. Over the summer when we went on vacation, this was Rico the Dog’s home away from home, and yeah, Weber’s gets my official Edelsteinian Seal of Dog Approval. They’re good people, treated Rico great, probably better than me.

“It’s just a tremendous difference in the way owners treat their dogs,” Horowitz said. “In the early days, dogs were watchdogs, or served another function. Now a dog is a member of the family, which is great. You want to make sure they get the best care.”

And while the work they do there is great, it’s the history of it all that really got me going. I mean, Einstein’s dog was trained on these grounds! Phil Rizzuto! Meyer Lansky, one of my all-time favorite Jews! (He’s top-6, for sure, a list which also includes Sandy Koufax, the three Beastie Boys, and David Lee Roth. Let’s add Bangles singer Susanna Hoffs (so hot), Einstein (so smart), Scarlett Johansson (so hot), and Jon Stewart (so funny) for an even 10.) (But yes – Lansky. I wish I was around for the days when there were legit tough Jews out there, running the mob with the Italians. I would’ve been a good associate. Anyway …)

Anyway, here’s some more Weber’s history: The land the kennel sits on used to be an asparagus farm and was owned by the first New Jersey State Police superintendent, Norman Schwarzkopf Sr., father of General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. It was bought by Weber, who then sold it to Horowitz’s dad.

And for Horowitz, his childhood was spent living and working on the property.

“It was all farmland,” he said.

But as he got older, Horowitz wanted to branch out. He found himself in the restaurant industry, living in Pittsburgh, putting in 90 hours a week in the 1970s.

By 1980, he decided he wanted to go into the family business, and he hasn’t left since. His three children all work there, and the plan is for them to take it over in the future.

“It’s not the most glamorous job in the world,” Horowitz said. “But I’ve had the suit and tie life, and I’ve had this life, and I’d choose this every time.”


The Bark Box

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