Dogs can leave paw prints on your heart and mud on the floor. These words are shown on a sign inside The Dog House, which opened Nov. 20 in the Farmington Mall.
Business co-owners Nicole Johnson and Niels Schapochnicof invested three years into planning The Dog House. It offers four main services - doggie day care, boarding, self wash and full-service dog grooming. Last week the new small business witnessed great community response at the soft opening and enjoyed getting to know dog owners and their pooches.
Although The Dog House is open now, the owners plan a larger spring grand opening and ribbon cutting to celebrate.
An idea blossoms
During the last three years, longtime friends Johnson and Schapochnicof dreamed, talked and planned for The Dog House. Now they are ready to offer caring, attentive pet services all under one roof.
These new entrepreneurs share a love for Bernese mountain dogs, admitting they both love this giant dog breed. They both fell in love with the dog's kind personality and friendly demeanor.
Johnson is a parent to two dogs, Mona, a small Boston terrier dog, and Beezus, the large Bernese mountain dog. Schapochnicof has Ella, a Bernese mountain dog.
Today they said many dog owners and families have limited time to spend walking and exercising their dogs. Many choose to own dogs before venturing into parenthood.
"It is a millennial thing because they are choosing to have kids later in life, and they are acquiring or adopting pets way earlier in life," Schapochnicof said.
"People are really realizing more than ever that their dogs need stimulation and your standard walk does not cut it for most dogs," Johnson said. "They still need that interaction with people and other dogs if you want your dog to really enjoy their life."
Many dog owners work long hours and lack the energy at the end of the day to exercise their dogs properly, Schapochnicof said. Dogs can be mentally stimulated by interacting with other dogs and be happier than being alone so many hours of the week.
"They do not have to feel guilty because their dogs will be in good hands here and they will have a good time," Johnson said.
"If you look on the bright side, we do all the dirty work and you can bring your pet home and they will come home and be nice and tired," Schapochnicof said.
As a true dog lover and dog educator, Johnson also works as a freelance blogger for Dog TV and writes for her own blog called Moa Bebe.com. She writes about adventures with dogs and completes her own dog research about the best dog treats and educates dog owners on all kinds of dog-related issues.
"I try to be more the educator and make sure we know a lot about every single breed, what they need and their behavior and anything that could possibly come up," she said. "It is not just a hobby but now it is part of my work and what I like to do."
A variety of services
For doggie day care, The Dog House offers hourly rates, half-day rates, discounts for veterans and first responders. The new business will also introduce discount packages and a membership system.
The Dog House is partnering with Last Hope pet adoption in Farmington, a nonprofit that has built trusting relationships with pets and adoptive parents across the state in the last 30 years.
"We want to help them in any way we can with grooming pets and with kennels or rooms, or if they have shy dogs that need to be more socialized," Schapochnicof said. "We truly believe in their (Last Hope) cause and we are in the same business as we both want the same well being of dogs."
The Dog House plans to host quarterly pet adoption events. The Dog House will also be partnering with Chuck and Don's pet food stores in Rosemount and Lakeville.
"A facility like ours does not exist in Farmington yet - you cannot find a facility with all the services under one roof," Schapochnicof said.
Curious dog owners can check out the new facility or visit www.thedoghousemn.com. Dog owners can connect on Facebook and Twitter to see specials or make appointments for grooming, doggie day care or stays at the dog hotel.
"If you leave a voicemail, we promise to get back within an hour because we want our customer service to be our utmost importance," Schapochnicof said.
Two fully licensed and accredited dog groomers will work onsite six days a week to care for dogs of all sizes and breeds. The Dog House facility can accommodate up to 16 dogs for boarding and 50 to 120 dogs for doggie day care.
"Depending on the need and demand, we are planning on expanding and offering other locations within the near future in Dakota County and the Twin Cities," Schapochnicof said.