A real pooch-pleaser

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March 28, 2005 // UPDATED 1:53 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Joe Widmer
Joe Widmer

Anne Hendrickson hated the moment in the morning when she was forced to say goodbye to her dog, Riley, to go to her corporate job.

Sure, the dog-walker would come by some- time during the afternoon and give Riley a good run, but Hendrickson knew it wasn't enough. This day-after-day guilt-trip planted the seeds for what is now Hendrickson's doggy daycare business, Downtown Dogs. Downtown Dogs is located near the I-394 and I-94W ramps, at 821 2nd Ave. N. It only takes customers a couple minutes to drop off their beloved pooches. Most owners work Downtown, and when they pick them up at the end of the day, their furry companions look dog-tired.

Customer Robb Miller said the convenient location is definitely part of what led him to bring his yellow Labrador retriever, Marley, to Downtown Dogs. A student at the University of St. Thomas, Miller said he hires a dog-walker to make sure Marley gets regular exercise, but he still likes to bring him to daycare at least once a week, as a sort of field trip away from their nearby condo.

"It's pretty wild," he said. "You know they get a lot of exercise when they're here."

Hendrickson said that's what's making her doggy daycare so successful. "[Customers] love having a tired dog everyday," she said. "They love sitting down, having a glass of wine, watching the news and having [their pooch] snuggle up with them."

Canine design

The daycare features a nearly 7,000-square-foot play area - complete with a Web cam, so human companions can check on their pooches during the day. The room gives the dogs plenty of room to run, both inside and outside. Staff members are on hand, and are essentially paid to play fetch with the 35 or so dogs that come to the business every day.

Surrounded by so many playmates, these dogs never run out of friends to romp or chase balls with, let alone ears to bite or butts to sniff.

Dog owners needn't worry about their best friend being placed on some strict, endurance regimen. Dogs are free to cat nap on several playroom couches.

More than playtime

If a client wants to instill some discipline or help their clumsy companion romp with pride, Downtown Dogs also offers a variety of classes. The four- or six-week courses include puppy kindergarten, obedience and agility courses among others, and range from $50 to $80.

Beginning May 1, Downtown Dogs will also offer weekend boarding services as well.

Something to bark about

Since she opened Downtown Dogs last April, she's seen business boom, going from six to 200 dog clients, with an average of 30-40 dogs per day.

Downtown Dogs charges $5 per hour or $27 per day. However, discounts are available for multiday or multidog packages. For example, a 20-daycare-days pass (good for six months) is $440; $375 for a second or sibling pooch from the same household. An unlimited 31-day pass is $420 for the first dog, and $360 for the second.

Apparently, this is a small price to pay for many dog owner's peace of mind. Things have been going so well, Hendrickson is considering opening another location near Minneapolis.

For more information about Downtown Dogs, including details on rates and upcoming classes or a sneak peek via the playroom Web cam, visit www.downtowndogsminneapolis.com or call 374-DOGS (3647).