Gina Burn's Bed and Biscuit

In Edgartown, a hotel for dogs and their human companions.

Every summer Gina Burns lets her house on Jenney Lane go to the dogs – 
not just any dogs: these are dogs on vacation, and they bring their humans with them. Gina’s Bed and Biscuit in Edgartown caters to dogs: it’s equipped with dog beds, beanie dog toys, an interspecies game called My Dog Can Do That (as well 
as Dogopoly), and a large fenced-in yard where, Gina says, “Dogs can do whatever 
they want. They can run around. They can play with the soccer balls. I don’t care how many holes they dig.” On arrival, each dog guest receives a bottle of Gina’s 
own concoction of tick, flea, and mosquito repellent she calls Ticked Off.
The first guests to stay when the house opened were four of President Clinton’s guards and two dogs from the bomb-sniffing squadron. The dogs found no bombs, but they enjoyed themselves anyway. The guards, however, found the setting way 
too peaceful. This summer, the first group was five women friends and their five dogs who were returning for their third summer. Gina says, “When people return, it’s so nice to see their dogs again. Sammy, a Welsh terrier from New Jersey, starts barking as soon as he gets to the ferry because he knows he’s coming here where 
he doesn’t have to be on a leash.”
After living on the Vineyard in the 1980s, Gina moved to St. John in the 
Virgin Islands where she ran an animal shelter for twelve years. When she moved back to the Vineyard five years ago, she opened her pet-oriented house to vacationers.
“I was so stressed and I needed to do something happy. My love was always 
animals from way back, and I knew there was a need for a place people could stay with their pets, a place people could have fun with their dogs.”
There’s only one real rule to all of this: owners and pets must rent the house 
together; you can’t drop off your pet and vacation somewhere else.  
You might think a house designed for use by legions of visiting dogs would be bareboned, but Gina’s place borders on the exotic. Housekeeping for dogs requires washable rugs and coverings, but the downstairs rooms are elegant and embellished with African masks, macramé wall hangings (from Gina’s former life as a fiber artist), and Indonesian art and furnishings. Gina says that people often tell her they feel like they’ve walked into a different country. A dog-design motif that visiting dogs may not fully appreciate (dog bone–shaped throw rugs, a mobile with colorful dangling dogs, and an array of dog-art mugs above the kitchen sink) at least pleases their people. A sign outside the front door says Wipe Your Paws.
People who rent the house pay 
a security deposit of $1,000, but Gina says she’s never had to use it. She says, “Sometimes a dog poops on the rug, but that’s no big deal.” Recently a man called to rent the house. “I asked him how many pets he had. He said,‘None, I have five kids.’ I told him, ‘If you had five dogs, you could stay here, but not with five kids.’” She says, “I don’t want kids coloring on the walls.”
A big outdoor deck overlooks flower gardens, a little pool with a sculptural King Neptune fountain, 
and a paddock beyond. Gina’s partner, Billy O’Callaghan, a mason and the former Mad Potter of Edgartown (featured in the May–June edition of Martha’s Vineyard Magazine), is building an outdoor fireplace in the yard. Clay figures of people and horses fill spaces between the stones, and a huge keystone-like sculpture, which Gina brought back from St. John, embellishes the center of the arch. The fireplace and a nearby picnic table with 
an umbrella create a kind of outdoor living room. The atmosphere is relaxed and one of Gina’s two dogs, Sunday, hops up on the table, perhaps to 
be at a better height to lick faces.         
“That’s not funny,” says Gina, 
patting her anyway. When Sunday lies down across half the table top, Gina tells her, “Good girl. I love you.”
Gina is especially devoted to 
animals in need, though she says she won’t acquire any more, unless they’re homeless. However, she’s already thinking about adopting greyhounds. She and Billy live in the guest house next door during the months her house is rented, so if a guest animal needs help, she will stop in. “If a visiting dog is needy, if it’s barking, I’ll 
go over and sit with it until the owner comes back from dinner.”
She and Billy both grew up with horses, and recently they expanded their menagerie to include a former racehorse in need and a pony, whose nickname is Dennis the Menace.
“The pony likes to play tag with Sunday and the wild turkeys that stroll through the neighborhood. He steals tools too. He’ll pick up a saw and run with the electric cord.” Gina’s next project is to build a two-stall horse barn in a small extra paddock so 
that people can bring their horses 
on vacation. She has already been 
approached about the idea.
There’s a feeling of tranquility in this home among the shady oak trees. Gina says, “I never want to go anywhere,” and adds, “but I have to pay for all this,” which she does by managing the Edgartown branch of – no surprises here – Good Dog Goods. Gina’s life looks idyllic – maybe because she seems so happy with it. She says, “I have everything I wished for.”