BERTHOUD — Within two years of owning Happy Tails Dog Ranch in Berthoud, the owners realized they needed to expand the size of the doggie day care and boarding facility.
Co-owners and husband-and-wife team Jay and Kristi Ross purchased 17 acres of land next to the facility, 18490 Weld County Road 1, to be able to offer an indoor play space that complements the facility’s kennels and outdoor play space. Happy Tails Dog Ranch, founded in 2005, offers doggie day care, boarding, training and grooming on the current five-acre property.
“We’re turning business away,” said Kristi Ross about Happy Tails, which has a database of 3,000 pet parents. “We’ll close on it in the next couple of weeks. Then we’ll start looking at options at when we can start expanding.”
The facility’s maximum capacity is 60 dogs per day, but with the expansion, the dog ranch hopes to be able to take in 150 dogs. The additional property has a 6,000-square-foot horse barn that will be converted into an indoor doggie day care play space, featuring a large open room with platforms and play structures designed for dogs.
“Right now, we don’t have an indoor facility,” Ross said, adding that the space could be used not only to accommodate more dogs but also in inclement weather.
The kennel building on the current property, used for overnight boarding and naps during doggie day care, can house up to 60 dogs and has a lobby with chews and treats for sale. The outdoor play space, which is two acres, is a fenced-in natural play yard, similar to a dog park but with natural grasses instead of Astroturf, along with doggie climbing gyms, large balls, toys and, in the summer, swimming pools.
“Most facilities don’t have large outdoor spaces,” Ross said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why we’re so popular. … The dogs have so much more room to spread out.”
The play space is for dogs in overnight boarding and doggie day care for up to five hours, broken up by a nap to avoid overstimulation. Pet parents can purchase up-sales, such as grooming, extra treats, individual training sessions and extra personal time with staff. There also are free puppy days for dogs up to seven months to receive a day of doggie day care — both to market the service and to offer a community service, Ross said.
“We provide an excellent experience for both the dog and pet parent,” Ross said, adding that word of mouth, returning customers and referrals help grow the business.
That growth also can be attributed to high growth in the area and high dog ownership in Colorado — 63 percent of households in Colorado own one or more dogs, Ross said. The business grew 107 percent from 2015 to 2017, bringing in $521,400 sales that year.
“When we bought the business in 2015, we had a different business concept,” Ross said. “We hit hard with marketing and advertising in order to make people aware we’re here.”