To board or not to board? That is the question for many dog lovers who are called to the open road out of necessity or for pleasure. For such people, however, The Highland Dog, a boutique “dog hotel” off Bardstown Road, may be just what the vet ordered.
Kelly Drescher and Joe Blevins opened The Highland Dog (slogan: “Sit. Stay. Play.”) last November in a home on Roanoke Avenue. “I did pet sitting and wanted to find a location where I could do it and have a brick and mortar store open to the public,” says Drescher, a full-time dog lover and part-time pilot in the Air National Guard. “We just always loved dogs and thought the neighborhood really needed it. The farthest pet hotel was in the East End, so we needed one here in the Highlands.” Renovations began a year ago on the house (a former parsonage of Cavalry Lutheran Church) and now the property is an eight-suite dog hotel.
Like with any four-star – er, four-paw – hotel, there is personalized service. “A lot of the other places kind of nickel and dime you,” says Drescher. “If you take your own treats, or want your dog to have extra potty breaks or playtime, you have to pay for that.” The all-inclusive fee of $50 per day includes playtime, a suite of 60 square feet – including an outside-facing window in each – and webcams so Drescher and Blevins can keep on eye on their charges. With attention customized to the owner’s requests, it’s not unheard of for Drescher to whip up a special chicken dinner for a canine guest. “Whatever the owner wants,” she says.
Neither Drescher nor Blevins live on the premises, but they keep close by enough to let out the dogs four times a day and check in on them at bedtime. “They all have their video screens,” Drescher says. “We play classical music for them at night and they have their custom-made beds. It’s a small facility, so the dogs are less anxious at night than at a regular kennel.” (The Highland Dog also offers dog day care every Monday and Wednesday for people who have obligations but wish to give their dogs a bit of extra attention.)
The dogs also have some interaction with one another, albeit with limits. “We let them out pretty much one at a time, and then they have group play during the day depending on their temperament,” Drescher says. “We have a pretty large yard for the Highlands.” Dog owners are asked to fill out a questionnaire, listing information about their pets’ temperaments, likes and dislikes. “We have our regulars, and then we get to know [a dog’s] personality,” she says.
One dog that’s almost always on hand is Drescher’s Brittany-Aussie mix, Wilson. “Oh yeah, he’s everybody’s best friend,” she says. “He gets along with the big ones and the little ones and plays with them.” This furry ambassador also helped win over neighbors who initially were resistant to the idea of the dog hotel. “People were nervous about the idea of a ‘kennel,’ but then they saw it wasn’t a bunch of outdoor kennels or anything like that,” Drescher says. “The dogs are all inside, but on nice days we’ll let them run around outside and let them come back in. I’ve had several neighbors talk to me about [the hotel], and everybody is happy with how it’s coming along.”
The Highland Dog is located at 1962 Roanoke Ave. For more information, call (502) 479-1056 or visit www.thehighlanddog.com.