Happy Dog Eureka was created in 1998 in Eureka, CA as the first alternative style doggy day care and boarding service of its kind in the area. The inspiration for Happy Dog came from the original owners’ wish to make a place where they would feel comfortable leaving their own dogs. With that idea as a guide, Happy Dog was “built from the ground up with your dog in mind.” The focus has always been on meeting the needs of each dog, knowing that every animal from pup to senior, whether active or shy, has its own personality. Since Jackie Roberts took ownership in 2018, she has continued to lead Happy Dog with that same principle. This alternative style has proved quite successful. In 2020, Happy Dog was the winner of the Nextdoor Favorite Doggy Day Care and Boarding Facility. Happy Dog was also winner of the Times Standard Best of 2021 Favorite Doggy Day Care and Boarding Facility on the North Coast. Additionally, Happy Dog Day Care was nominated for best of Humboldt 2021 Readers Choice Award under doggie daycare/boarding in the Northcoast Journal.
At Happy Dog Day Care and Boarding, the team prides itself on making sure that each dog is not just comfortable but happy when under their care. With top-rate facilities and a staff that genuinely loves dogs, your dog will have a great experience. There are seven main play areas, as well as some non-group areas, featuring ForeverLawn K-9 grass, so that your dog can be around friends that match his or her level of sociability and activity. The staff takes the time to gradually introduce the dogs to each other, so that they can make new friends comfortably. If your dog is boarding with Happy Dog, they get to end a day of exercise and playtime with a relaxing night in their spacious kennels on heated floors and with soothing music piped in. Happy Dog serves Canidae All Life Stages Four Protein and All Life Stages Chicken and Rice. If your dog needs special food prepared, the staff can assist with this at no extra charge. They will also see to administering your dog’s medication for the duration of its stay. Happy Dog has a top-of-the-line security system with nighttime observation to ensure your dog is safe at all times.
How did you get started in this business?
I have always had a love for dogs. So, in some ways it was only natural for me to find a way to make a living by taking care of them and making them happy. As for my time with Happy Dog specifically, I bought it from the original owners back in 2018. I originally intended to incorporate dog rescue as a part of our operations as well. I have not been able to implement that yet but hopefully we can in the future.
How do you make money?
As of now, we charge $33 per night for a stay in a large kennel and $30 per night for an additional friend. Daycare is $20 for a full day and $12 for a half day.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Happy Dog started in 1998, so when I bought it in 2018 it had already been profitable for quite some time.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I think I was surprised by how much hard work is involved with running your own business. There are many things that come up that you can’t really be prepared for because no one saw them coming. This past year has really taken a lot of perseverance and patience. Due to uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, I had to take it one day at a time and focus on things that were within my control.
How did you get your first customer?
We had a good customer base when I took over in 2018.
What do you think it is that makes Happy Dog successful?
My staff really enjoys what they do. We all love taking care of dogs, and it shows in the work we do. We have methods and routines we stick to, but it’s not like working with machines or computers where you’re just looking for them to get something done for you. Working with dogs, you get more back. When you see them happy and healthy because of the work you do, it makes you feel better too. No matter how hard things have gotten, especially this last year, my team always made me feel supported.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The most rewarding thing is seeing the joy we bring to the dogs, especially when they’re dropped off for daycare, and they can’t wait to get in to play with their friends. I’m also proud of the ways that we are able to give back to the community. We have a fund set up with Humboldt Area Foundation that helps with various causes in the community. We also donate to many organizations for human rights, children’s causes, feeding the hungry, and animal rights locally and nationally.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I think the future is bright for us. We’re getting back into the swing of things. As people are getting back to normal and traveling again, we are seeing our business pick up as well. I’m most excited about seeing how the rest of this year plays out, and how we can make the facility even more enjoyable for the dogs.
If you could give advice to someone looking to follow in your footsteps, what would that be?
Be prepared for lots of hard work, stress, headaches, and unpredictable emergencies and disasters that might come up at a moment’s notice. But it’s all worth it, even though being a business owner can be a seven day a week job.
What is the best business advice you have ever received?
Just take one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Because being a business owner can be a seven day a week job, I find it to be very important that I take time every day to center myself. Whether it is yoga early in the morning or listening to music in the evenings, I take some needed time for myself to decompress. I also love getting out and enjoying nature. That helps me to keep things in the proper perspective and to be better as a leader and owner. That way, I can focus on the high-level concerns rather than getting off track or bogged down with the smaller details. This also helps me to remain calm when I am working with my staff. I always strive to lead by example and teach that kindness matters. I believe it is important to maintain the proper balance, as a business owner, between the demands of my personal and professional life.
What is your favorite quote?
As a vegan and someone who has a deep reverence for all life, my favorite quote would be “dogs are a link to paradise, they don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent”. They don’t judge and they love unconditionally.