There’s not much better than spending your day playing with puppies, except maybe for getting paid for it, too.
That’s what the staff at Ruff Haus — a Barrie-based dog daycare, training and grooming facility — have been doing since the doors first opened in November 2011.
Now, nearly a decade later, owner Kelly Johnson is excited about what the future holds — including a move on May 1 into a new, larger facility at 28 Currie St., Unit 23.
“The MTO (Ministry of Transportation) is taking over our plaza and they’re going to tear it down, which means we had to find a new facility,” she told BarrieToday.
The new building is approximately 4,000 square feet and will feature two significantly bigger daycare rooms than what they have now.
“It will give the dogs a lot more opportunity to run around and be crazy and play," Johnson said.
The new facility will also be able to accommodate extra-large dogs for grooming, which she noted isn’t widely available in the city.
Johnson, who took over the business in 2016, said she couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity.
“I have always worked… at dog daycares and been training for almost 25 years. I’d always wanted to own my own daycare,” said Johnson, who had been offering training classes at Ruff Haus. “When the previous owner was thinking about selling the business, she approached me and wanted me to take it over… so I just decided to go for it.”
Johnson and her family have three dogs: a nine-year-old boxer named Bentley; Ruger, an eight-year-old German short-haired pointer; and the newest addition, a five-year-old Chorkie named Charlie.
“I always grew up with dogs and was just always drawn to them. I wanted to be a vet from the time I knew I would need to get a job one day, but didn’t go in to the field because I didn’t think I could handle the euthanasia, so decided I wanted to do something else, but stay somehow in the field of working with dogs,” she said.
“I always had a connection with dogs and just felt we were kind of kindred spirits. I felt like I could understand them and they could understand me," Johnson added.
Ruff Haus isn’t just a place for dogs to come for the day, she noted, it’s also a second home.
“The staff are so committed and every dog that is in our care is treated like one of their own. They’re just amazing… and have a genuine love for each and every one of these dogs,” Johnson said.
“Our clients are part of our extended family," she added. "We are a small business and don’t have a ton of staff, but we know the name of every dog and we remember the little things about them.”
Creating a sense of community outside Ruff Haus is also extremely important to the staff, said Johnson, adding they’re often doing some kind of fundraising for a local organization or charity.
“Sometimes we do fun photos, raffles, etc., and the money raised goes to whichever charity we’ve selected," Johnson said. "It doesn’t have to be a dog-related charity — we’ve done the women’s and children’s shelter, Habitat for Humanity.
“It’s important to take care of our community and help out wherever we can," she added. "We may not have the biggest platform, but if we can use what we do have to help get the word out and help and assist somehow, it’s something we love to do.”