Top Dog Winner Lazy Dog Crazy Dog is reinventing doggie daycare and boarding in Portland. Its owners, Pete and Jackie McClellan, are also inventing a new language for their industry. For example, “tommy and taddy,” meaning “temporary mommy and daddy,” refers to them and their eight employees. The McClellans maintain the philosophy that a dog “is more than a family member.” Says Jackie, “We treat our dogs like they’re somebody’s kids. Like they’re our kids.”
Their innovation and dedication are apparent upon entering the Montavilla facility. Cheery yellow, raspberry and espresso-colored walls and high ceilings lend an open feel to the 5000 SF play room. As 35 dogs cavort in two areas, the adjacent fenced “lazy” corner offers cots and quiet space while allowing resting dogs to observe the fun.
After an initial two-hour evaluation, the McClellans and their employees, many of them PCC vet tech students, place each dog in a group according to play style. “We strive to maintain a peaceful kingdom, a balance in energy levels,” says Jackie. “We have dogs who play non-stop and dogs who play intermittently.”
Pete and Jackie came to Portland in 2009 with two dogs and a host of pet rats via Hong Kong, where they were teachers. They had also lived in Australia; she says her eldest pet rat traveled in all three countries, to the chagrin of a few customs officials. The human/canine/rodent family arrived in the Northwest “Portlandia”-style, in a VW bus that serendipitously broke down near their current facility at SE 88th and Stark Streets. “We looked at the whole city but we fell in love with the Montavilla neighborhood,” says Jackie.
Having fostered, boarded and rescued dogs in Hong Kong, the 30-something couple opened their P-Town business in November 2009 and rapidly outgrew their first location. “We have customers from the whole metro area and beyond,” says Jackie, who hopes the structure, care and consistency at Lazy Dog Crazy Dog is obvious to her clients.
In addition to day care, the facility provides overnight boarding, also with a twist. Dogs can stay in 6’x5’ “private suites,” or they can sleep in group areas with their doggie friends. Additionally, dogs socialized to sleep with people can sleep in a bedroom, even in a bed, with the night tommy or taddy. "We are pretty adept at matching the dogs' sleeping needs with one of our different sleeping arrangements," says Jackie.
One such canine was Amber, Linda Dixon’s three-year old Lab-Feist mix. Likely abused by her previous owner, Amber had never slept with a person in bed before trying it out at Lazy Dog Crazy Dog. Amber has also attended day care these past 18 months. Originally reactive to other dogs, Amber “has gotten very social there,” says Dixon. “They have helped her come around and she has learned how to play.”
Why does Jackie think her customers voted her business #1? "Trusting us with their kids is the highest compliment we could receive,” she says. "I just hope that our supreme dog love shines through."
Meryl Lipman is a freelance writer and PR consultant. She is owned by a 12 year-old feline, Dagny.