By Brett Hart
A love for dogs and an eye for opportunity led Jeff Peters to an exciting journey into the world of canine daycare, boarding and training. A former product and sales manager and director of business development, Peters surprisingly stumbled into the world of doggy daycare a couple of years ago when he and his wife updated their long-term family dog pack with a two much larger, and rowdier, companions.
”As puppies, they were absolute terrors,” Peters said. ”We have a sizable house, but it didn’t matter. It was shoes. It was recliner handles. Everything was getting chewed.”
At their wit’s end, the couple turned to a local doggy daycare facility for help, which Jeff admittedly thought was a bit ”Foo Foo.”
”Doggy daycare?” he said. ”Who would spend money on that?”
Much to his surprise and delight, these two menaces came home well behaved each time they went to daycare. They became much more social with other dogs and humans.
”I saw how happy the dogs were, how happy the clients were, and said, ‘This is a business I want to be in,”’ Jeff said.
So when Rio Gran, a reputable multipurpose dog service facility in Hastings, Minn., came up for sale, Jeff jumped on the opportunity to get on board, and ramped things up a notch with a number of upgrades. Jeff purchased the 15-year-old business in September of 2014 and quickly went to work redesigning some of the indoor and outdoor areas of the 3 1/2-acre property for training and play while maintaining the stylish flair of the popular boarding facility.
”It’s all about the creature comfort,” Jeff said. ”We really strive to be doggy heaven.”
Part of the indoor remodeling project involved converting a rundown kennel building into an additional indoor play area. A stickler for safety and cleanliness, Jeff began researching different flooring surfaces to put in the newly-remodeled building.
”We were seriously considering using an epoxy-coated concrete floor,” Jeff said. But after observing the daycare dogs running on different surfaces, he decided that concrete just wasn’t going to cut it.
”We do see quite a few dogs here that have hip issues or even torn ACLs,” Jeff said. ”They have to be very carefully looked after. My fear with concrete was that even if you put a grid in it, it gets slick. If their nails are a little bit long, when they go to make a turn or cut, they can lose their legs out from underneath them.”
Another indoor play area at his facility had a rolled rubber flooring that was about 10 years old and, after some thorough cleaning, still looked like new. Watching the dogs on that surface, he noticed the floor was tacky enough to allow the dogs’ paw pads to grip and keep them from slipping while also being gentle on the pads.
”They will run like crazy on that stuff,” Jeff said. ”If they’re on a hard concrete surface, they run the possibility of tearing up their pads.”
He began researching rubber flooring and found it was even better than he had hoped.
”We were concerned initially about the porosity of the material when dogs have accidents,” Jeff said. ”We get puppies in here a lot at the daycare.”
With a little online research, Jeff found just what he was looking for at Greatmats.com – low odor 3/8-inch thick Greatmats Rubber Flooring Rolls, which are made in the USA from recycled tires.
”It’s a recycled product, but it’s not porous,” Jeff said. ”With… the proper cleaning procedure, you can keep any urine, feces, that sort of thing from getting into the material and staying in the material. I think it’s actually easier to keep clean than concrete.”As for durability, the previously-installed rubber flooring (along with Greatmats’ 5-year limited warranty) gave Jeff the peace of mind he needed to know it is made to last – even with a facility like his that often reaches its 100-dog limit during the summer and holidays.
With the new indoor play area, Rio Gran now offers a little more than 6,000 square feet of indoor roaming area that is covered with this rubber flooring. ”It’s fantastic and it’s easy to keep clean,” Jeff said.
Jeff is also working on upgrading his 16,000 square foot area of off-leash outdoor roaming space.
”Part of what we do is we make sure they get exercise and played with to the point where they want to come back here,” Jeff said. ”Even in the best homes, the dogs aren’t getting necessarily exercised to the point of exhaustion every day. But when they come here, they do. And so they’re very content and always anxious to come back and play.”
Hastings MN 55033
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