MOORHEAD — The Fargo-Moorhead area has a new canine (and cat) castle.

Wags Stay n' Play has opened what it hopes will be a puppy paradise: it’s new $800,000 dog daycare and boarding facility at 1601 Main Ave. in Moorhead, just blocks east of its original spot.

Opening day for the new 8,100-square-foot building was Thursday, July 1. A building permit for the new canine hang-out was approved in mid-January, with final inspections completed last week. Additionally, the city gave Wags Stay n' Play the green light for a three-year, $27,600 tax break in April of 2020.

 Wags Stay n’ Play in Moorhead  features dedicated play areas for large and small dogs.  David Samson / The Forum
Wags Stay n’ Play in Moorhead features dedicated play areas for large and small dogs. David Samson / The Forum

General manager Sammy Smith said constructing their own facility from the ground up will give Wags Stay n' Play a building which is better tailored to their needs. “The new facility is going to be similar in size to what we have right now, but we get to build it from the ground up as exactly what we envisioned our doggie daycare to be when we started five years ago,” she told The Forum. “That’s always a nice thing about being able to own your own building instead of renting the space, so that’s something we’re really really excited for.”

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Wags Stay n' Play’s original building, located at 2618 16th Ave. S., originally housed storage units. Wags Stay n' Play added indoor and outdoor play yards when they moved into the facility in 2016, “it wasn't something that was meant to be a doggy daycare,” Smith explained.

Kira Thompson holds "Stevie" at Wags Stay n’ Play in Moorhead on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
Kira Thompson holds "Stevie" at Wags Stay n’ Play in Moorhead on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

Overall, Smith said the new building will be an “awesome upgrade.” The facility will offer the same daycare, boarding, grooming and training services as were available at their previous location. “Everything we currently do we’re continuing at the new building,” she noted.

The most impactful difference in the two facilities is that the new building adds a fifth play yard for dogs. It allows Wags Stay n’ Play to offer designated play areas for puppies and senior dogs. “The best part about this facility is that we have five yards instead of four,” she said. “Two of the yards are specifically aimed for certain types of dogs.”

The new Wags Stay n’ Play also offers a “much larger” cat room for feline friends as well, Smith said.

Ashley Harn gives "Honey" a trim at Wags Stay n’ Play in Moorhead on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
Ashley Harn gives "Honey" a trim at Wags Stay n’ Play in Moorhead on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

Opening a new facility wasn't without its fair share of headaches, however. Construction delays forced Wags Stay n' Play to relocate services to their Wags n’ Whiskers grooming salon at 201 21st St. S. for a period of time.

On top of that, the business grappled with the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020, which resulted in a significant downturn in dog boarding. “COVID definitely hit the business a little bit here and there with nobody traveling,” Smith said. “That’s where we see the most business is during boarding times when people have to bring their dog to spend the night.”

Wags Stay n’ Play’s new building is opening at an opportune time with leisure travel, including last month’s Independence Day weekend, rebounding from the pandemic lull.

Wags Stay n' Play's new facility is seen Tuesday, July 27, 2021 at 1601 Main Ave. in Moorhead. 
David Samson / The Forum
Wags Stay n' Play's new facility is seen Tuesday, July 27, 2021 at 1601 Main Ave. in Moorhead. David Samson / The Forum

On a busy day, Wags Stay n’ Play typically takes in about 60 or 70 dogs, though that number swelled to well over 100 over the Fourth of July weekend, Smith said. “We’re hoping the new business opening up is going to be right in time for everybody to be ready to travel again,” she remarked.

Smith credited Wags Stay n’ Play’s customers for sticking with them throughout the hectic renovation process, saying their patience will be rewarded. “They’re going to get the same service they get here with a smiling staff and they’re dogs going home tired,” she remarked. “It’s just going to be a lot more fun of an environment.”

Readers can reach InForum reporter Thomas Evanella at tevanella@forumcomm.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella