Camp Bow Wow is the newest doggy day care and boarding center in the Frederick area, having opened its doors in March. And while the pandemic has prevented people from going into work or traveling — two of the main reasons for camp and boarding — co-owner William Randall said the business has found a small loyal following already.
After his family's company sold The Frederick News-Post a few years ago, Randall figured it was a good time to go into business with his longtime friend Brad Paradise. After hearing about the Camp Bow Wow franchising opportunity from Erin Marr, the three decided to go into business together. They combined their love of dogs with their passion to bring a full-service facility to Frederick.
“There are businesses that do somewhat similar things to us but there's nothing quite like the product and the services that Camp Bow Wow offers,” Randall said.
The facility, which is on Hughes Ford Road, features indoor and outdoor play areas that are monitored by camp counselors who receive special training. The staff also offers services like administering oral and topical treatments and feeding dogs their owner-provided food at no extra cost. There are some extra services which come at a fee, such as a sniff and find activity for dogs to use their problem-solving skills.
The Frederick News-Post spoke to Randall about the new business. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What was it like opening during the pandemic?
It's a huge challenge. When we were doing due diligence for the business, they were saying the best thing about pet care is it's relatively insulated from economic changes. It's not recession-proof but it's still a service that people get even if the economy's not doing great. However, nobody’s ever said anything about a pandemic. Because our business is really driven by people leaving their homes. Boarding is meant to be the core of our business, and with people not traveling for work and people not really going on vacation, that's been kind of slow to start so that's been a challenge for us.
From a health and safety standpoint we're doing a really good job. I mean cleanliness is one of the brand promises to begin with. Fortunately for us the chemical that we use to clean camp, with the right dilution ratio, does kill COVID and so we're just doing what we normally would do, but a little bit more of it.
Can you tell me about the services you offer?
The core of our business is boarding. So dogs can stay in either a regular cabin or a luxury suite. Luxury suites have cameras on them all night and have TVs in the room so the dogs can watch stuff. Every suite and every cabin has a comfy cot and a cozy blanket. And obviously we keep water in there and that's where we feed them. The motto is 'play all day and sleep the night away.' Part of the price of the boarding includes all-day day care. So the dogs are only in their cabins and suites to eat and sleep and rest. But throughout the day they are out playing with other dogs.
Our second main offering is doggy day care. We're pretty proud of the facility we have. We're just under 8,000 square feet and our play yards have access to the outdoors all the time. So the dogs can play inside, they can go outside. Each play yard is overseen by a camp counselor so they're being supervised the whole time. We separate our play yards by size first and then temperament. We don't want to have any tiny little dogs paired with any enormous dogs for safety purposes.
The third main piece of our business is grooming. We do everything from a basic bath, nail trim all the way up to full service grooming — professional-grade grooming.
Can you tell me about the process for enrolling or boarding a dog?
In order for a dog to come here for day care or for boarding, we have an interview process where our camp counselors help to introduce the dogs to camp in a safe and supervised manner. And then at the end of that interview process we make the determination whether camp is a good fit for them or not ... and that's to help with safety. We want to make sure that the dogs will be comfortable here. But interview day is also a free day of camp for our customers.
What are you looking forward to?
I'm excited to continue to integrate into the community and to really be the top choice for pet care in the area because we do offer really superior services. We have I think quite a few good loyal customers. But we love the opportunity to meet new dogs and to care for new dogs. And we love developing relationships with our pet parents as well. We like to go the extra mile. A lot of people, when they come in, they’re nervous. In many cases these are their babies, and we really look forward to being able to build that trust with our pet parents.