A Lodge They Call Home

A Lodge They Call Home

A Lodge They Call Home
By Brian Hawkes

All’s Well That Ends Well!
Typically, we start with boy meets girl. In the case of Jac and Candice, it is more boy meets girl, best friend steals girl situation. As Jac recalls, “How we met is a funny story, I kinda stole her from Jon, my best friend, of 25 years. Before you ask—yes we are still best friends. In fact, the year after we got
married all 3 of us bought our first house together. He has since gotten married himself, and I actually officiated his wedding in Disney.” Talk about an unlikely fairy tale ending!

Once Jac and Can began dating, they immediately realized that they shared a love of the outdoors. As we’ll soon see, that love is now something they share with their kids. But back in the dating days, it did lead to a funny little anecdote. Can says, “One of the first trips that Jac and I planned to take
was a camping trip to upstate New York. The trip just so happened to coincide with Hurricane Irene hit. I was so disappointed that Jac set up the tent in the backyard of his brother’s house to try and make me smile. We even tried to camp through the storm but during the middle of the night the
Passaic River flooded so high that it came about 20 feet from the tent and we had to retreat back inside. It wasn’t the trip we planned, but was hilarious and ended up being something we won’t forget.”

Before kids, the couple would also jump in the car whenever we got the urge and zip into the city—with Greenwich Village being a favorite destination. They especially liked to go every year on the anniversary of the day they realized they were in love with each other . . . July 8th. Jac and Can would have dinner at the Noodle Bar and then cut up through Minetta Lane to Grom’s or the Creperi for dessert. After stuffing themselves, it was off the Washington Square Park to walk it off. Jac fondly remembers, “It was a no brainer when I was trying to decide where to propose. Somewhere between the Noodle Bar and Grom’s. In front of someone’s red apartment door on Minetta Lane, I popped the question and luckily she said yes.”

Candice and Jac got married on October 13, 2013 at Bear Mountain’s Carousel. Apropos, given their love of the outdoors. Jac says, “It was incredible, Candice made her entry on the carousel and we got to ride it all night long.”

Two Kids, Two Pups, and a Cat

Jac and Can have two children. Josephine is two-and-a-half years old and Jack is the ripe old age of 1 month. Can says, “Not really sure if Jack has any special talents yet other than eating like a champ.” Jo, on the other hand may be young but she is mighty! She loves to go over to the kennel (more to
come) and help feed the dogs at dinner time. She also hangs around the office to greet clients as they come in. Her parents recently signed her up for Kidstrong in Waldwick. She had her first class last week and she loved it—from climbing over A frames to doing summersaults on mats to taking
on balance beams.

In addition to the kids, the family currently has 2 dogs and a cat. Andie, a 12-year-old blue heeler/border collie, is a rescue. She is a bit nervous around strangers but has no problem telling people through the window that she is the Queen of her castle! Fletcher is a 6-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix. Jac says, “He is basically the mayor of our little world here.” Since the kennel and their house are somewhat attached, Fletcher has learned how to make his way around. He asks to go out the back door of the house and then ask the girls in the grooming room to let him in. From there he asks to go out into the office because he knows the office is where the people come in.
When a client comes in they can often find Fletcher sitting on the front desk basically pointing at the cookie tray, where he baits people in with his soft eyes and they melt and feed him cookies. Last, but certainly not least, is our newest addition Panther the cat, who is a year old. He may be one crazy kitty but he has quickly become Jo’s best buddy. They love each other so very much.

The Pet Lodge and Day Spa: A Family Affair

As Jac says, “I’ve always been drawn to animals. When I was 12, I started hanging out in a local pet shop in Paramus just to be near them. The groomer there saw something in me and took the time to get me started on what would be my lifelong career. “ When that pet shop closed 3 years later, Jac found another local grooming shop called Hot Dogs to hone his skills. It was here that Jac learned the art of thorough prep work. Jac says, “The owner of Hot Dogs was tough as nails and accepted nothing but perfection.”

Around this time, Jac was ready to head off to college. He attended Delaware Valley College in Pennsylvania, studying large animal science for 2 years. He says, “Dog grooming just kept calling to me. I was working at a local pet store and managing the Philadelphia Equestrian Barn, but I wanted something more.” At this point, he found The Posh Pet. The woman who owned it helped Jac take his grooming skills to the next level.

He bought that same store when he was 21. At around 30, Jac started to miss home, so it was time to sell the store to the next aspiring groomer and move back to Bergen County. As he began looking to open his own shop, he and his Dad came across The Pet Lodge and Day Spa. He says, “It was a perfect fit. It took things one step further because it provided grooming and boarding and, more importantly, it had a house on the property.” Jac bought The Pet Lodge in June of 2017. In the past 4 years, The Pet Lodge has almost doubled in size and have added doggie daycare. There is an enormous ½ yard fenced in, which is just ideal for the Pups to run and play all day long. He says, “I
feel like all of my jobs in the past have prepared me for owning this place—from grooming to Vet tech-ing to managing horses and dog training. It is safe to say I know my way around animals.”

Can started college at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Hackensack, which gave her a great start into what would be my career in graphic design. She transferred and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Art from SUNY New Paltz. Straight out of college Can landed a job at a local comic magazine
company, starting first in the warehouse shipping out comics, magazines, and figurines. She then got an internship to work with the company’s graphic and web designer. Soon after, she was promoted to the designer position. She designed email blasts promoting different new and exciting
products. A few years later, Can found a job with a commercial real estate company as their graphic designer, designing email blasts, flyers, yearly newsletters, and running their website for a little over 10 years. She says, “Using that experience, I now do freelance work creating invitations, flyers,
holiday cards, and whatever the imagination can cook up. Working with my husband for our business, The Pet Lodge and Day Spa, has been both fun and exciting creating marketing materials and keeping the website fresh.”

Ciardellas at Play

Although the family didn’t set out to live in River Vale per se, they have found that it is really such a nice town. They love the amount of nearby wooded areas and parks to hang out in. Owning a small business in this town has really given them a chance to get to know all their neighbors on a more
intimate level. The couple says, “Everyone has been so amazing. We were seriously taken aback by how many of our clients showed up with a present for our son when he was born. The kindness has been overwhelming and we are so grateful.”

Hiking has always been the go-to for the Ciardellas. They love to explore the woods, camp, fish, or just spend time outside in any way possible. Can says, “We are doing our best to get our kids into it as well and, so far, Jo seems to love it. She collects rocks and sticks to add to her collection. If there is
water, forget about it! It could be 30 below and, if she sees water, we are in trouble. Anything from a puddle to a lake is fair game for her.”

Another staple of family fun for the Ciardellas is summer weekends at Mimi and Papa’s Beach House. Jac says, “It’s funny what becomes important to you as your family grows and you get older. Now that we have two kids and my brother has two kids of his own, we wouldn’t dream of being anywhere else but all together at the Beach House during the summer.” The four cousins are pretty close in age and just adore each other. Crabbing and fishing off the dock on the bayside is a fun family activity. And when they are done, the extended family can cool down in the pool. Last year, Jac’s brother added a boat and this year, they are adding 2 jet skis. Jac says, “When I was younger, growing up in that same Beach House, I spent every bit of daylight on the skis we had then. I can’t wait to get out on them this summer!”

Can says, “Traveling is definitely a passion of ours. We don’t really seem to care where we travel to, it’s more about exploring the unknown. Sometimes the journey to the destination is the best part!” As the world slowly reopens, the Ciardellas look forward to future family journeys.

Ciardellas Give Back

Once a month, Jac and Can take Jo to Restaurant Depot, where she helps fill a cart with food to donate to their church, St Andrews. They say, “We think it is so important for our kids to learn from a young age to help others who truly need it.” After all, that is where Jac learned it. On Christmas morning, Jac, his Dad, and his brother would go with a neighbor to a local hospital to
bring toys to the kids. Can says, “It was the first thing he did Christmas morning, before he opened his own gifts.” Not to be outdone, Candice has always been involved with helping others through her church growing up. She has run food drives and taken part in adopt-a-highway programs. She also volunteered at a home for abused women. Jac beams, “It is just in her nature to be a giver, which makes us extremely compatible.”

Of course, their volunteerism extends dog rescue. The Pet Lodge and Day Spa has teamed up with Peace 4 Paws to lend them a hand saving Pups. When they need to save a Pup but have nowhere for it to go, The Pet Lodge and Day Spa provides the Pup a warm place to rest its head. Jac and Can
agree that “most of all, we give these Pups love and a second chance.”

As a family, the Ciardellas look to find the blessings in each and every day. The couple says, “We try to live and teach our kids that every day may not be easy but there is usually one positive thing that comes out of each day.” From each other to the Pet Lodge and Day Spa to Jo and Jack, Jac and Can do not have to look too long to find blessings and positive things every single day.

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