FARGO - Barks & Recreation, Fargo’s newest doggie daycare, boarding and training facility, is positioning itself as play- and pampering-central for pooches, from siesta-loving setters to high-speed hounds.
Owners Ashley Hahn and Deborah Hemstad celebrated their soft opening Friday, April 12, as they offered a tour of their 9,000-square-foot doghouse at 5126 51st Ave. S.
“There’s so many details we are so passionate about … just a lot of family effort,” Hahn said. “We wanted to create a home away from home feel. Not just for the dogs, but the people coming in, too.”
Barks & Recreation started two and a half years ago as a business that made home visits to care for your furred, feathered and finned friends. But Hahn and Hemstad decided to build a permanent space that, when full, can accommodate 100 to 120 dogs. That includes ruffs and fluffs whose owners are willing to pony up for one of eight luxury rooms being outfitted with televisions, sound systems, heated tile floors, windows, private piddle and play area, and cameras that allow owners to go online to peek in on their puppers 24 hours a day.
For example, on Friday the Jimmy Buffett-themed room “Bark-aritaville” had a video monitor playing the laid back singer in concert. Planned are an Italian Greyhound room with a racecar bed and a Bison-themed room.
Among the special services offered is photography by Hahn of doggos sitting in their best boy or girl fashion, or with their people pack members.
Hemstad, who also works full time as a veterinary technician with Animal Health Clinic in south Fargo, does dog massage, which she says helps dogs recover from surgery, and eases aches for agility and hunting dogs, arthritic dogs and others with lameness issues.
“Anybody can benefit from pet massage,” Hemstad said.
Both women volunteer with the Italian Greyhound Club of America Rescue of Minnesota and North Dakota, and Fargo-based Diamond in the Ruff Pet Rescue.
Upcoming events at Barks & Recreation include an Italian greyhound spring playdate on April 14, and a microchip clinic with Diamond in the Ruff on April 28, Hahn said.
The general lodging area has 75 kennels of varying sizes and amenities - including 11 with access to the outdoors. There are kennels that can be turned into two-room suites, for barkin’ buddies, and “double-decker” kennels with rubber flooring for small dogs.
All of the kennels come with raised, cushioned dog beds, some of which are made by local Eagle Scouts.
Overhead, speakers play classical music, which many canines find soothing, along with jazz riffs that other dogs dig, Hahn said.
Next door is a large indoor playroom, with stackable platforms that provides training and play opportunities and for some dogs, and a place to nest for pups too pooped to play.
“The atmosphere we’re creating is small-group play,” Hahn said, with five to 10 dogs in each grouping.
Owners are asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire to help evaluate dogs and better match them in play groups, Hahn said. Barks & Recreation employees will also consider age, breed, personality and activity level.
Puzzle games, Kongs to chew, ball pits and “story time” are available, too. Yes, they read to the dogs, Hahn said.
No word on whether that includes “Go Dog. Go!” or “The Cat in the Hat.”
Altogether, there are three dog runs. The rest of the facility includes meal preparation and laundry areas, a staff room, an employee training room that can double for community education use, and an isolation room for animals that show signs of communicable diseases, Hahn said.
Pet parents will get an online canine report card.
While a full grooming service isn’t available, Fluffy can get a mani and pedi for $10, and if Berty is dirty, an exit bath can be fetched for $15.
The 13-member staff includes three licensed veterinary technicians.
“We’re pretty proud of it,” Hemstad said.
The partners plan to continue the home pet-sitting service, which includes options for some small chores.
“Anything furred, feathered and finned, we’ll take care of them, too,” Hahn said.
For more information or to make a reservation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (701) 532-0843.