David and Zena Laubie will soon be opening a new concept in doggie daycare and boarding called Hounds Town USA in Smryna. The concept was developed by Michael Gould, who began his canine career in 1982, when he was selected as one of the first members of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) canine unit, and he has been working with dogs ever since. In 2000, he opened the first Hounds Town USA location in Port Jefferson, New York. Gould started Hounds Town in response to his community’s need for reliable and trustworthy pet care, bringing more than 35 years of commercial dog training experience to the private pet care industry.
The address for the new Smyrna location is 1260 South Lowry St. The Laubies were drawn to the unique franchise concept of creating an environment that was 100% dog centered, and based on its innate pack mentality. Gould has created a program where dogs are placed in playgroups, are allowed to “run wild” within a safe environment, and play all day, or rest as they choose.
“Allowing dogs to have natural pack playtime spoke to us as we are huge dog lovers,” said David. “Having Mike’s history with NYPD and K-9 unit incorporated into the business model was great.”
“It is truly home to the happiest dogs on earth,” added Zena. “Different dogs have different play styles, temperaments, and, of course, size.”
“We will be giving them what they crave” David explained. “We won’t just put them in a room and then pull them out a couple of times a day for a walk. They play all day. There is no breed discrimination. It is about behavior. We will do evaluations created by Michael based on his massive experience to place the dogs in their play group.”
“As the Commanding Officer of the Nassau County Canine Unit,” said Gould, “in my community, my neighbors … knew me as the “dog guy.” As I was going to retire in 2000, people in the community started to inquire about me training their dog, watching their dog when they went on vacation, and even for the day while they were at work. There was no other place in the area they could trust. I began taking dogs one on one, and I would run errands with them, training them in the process. The business and the need just grew like wildfire, and soon I rented a 1,200-square foot factory and began offering interactive doggie daycare, training, and overnight boarding. From there, it really grew quickly into multiple locations as word of the business and our services spread.”
David has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and wanted to own his own business. Both he and Zena love dogs. As a matter of fact, according to David, she loves them so much that if they see one as they are driving along, Zena has to get out and pet it. When they discovered Hounds Town USA as they were researching franchises, they couldn’t think of anything better to do.
David found that there are not enough dog boarding and daycare facilities in Middle Tennessee. Both Zena and David had a long history of babysitting friend’s dogs, so after going to New York to meet the founder of the company, it all just felt right and they went for it.
With the theme Hounds Town, the facility looks different. Along “Town Boulevard” there are different “homes” for the dogs; there are smaller kennels and luxury suites. A luxury suite can hold two dogs Kennels are smaller, but have the same concept. All of them have a large window that the dog or dogs can look out. If a dog prefers its own crate, there is an area where the dog’s family can bring the crate.
There are five indoor play areas and one outdoor play area that is very large. The dogs do have breaks, from noon until 2:00 p.m., but mostly they are playing all day. The whole concept revolves around the all-day monitored interaction, but if a dog gets overstimulated, then there are places to have a time out.
“We take many things into account,” said Zena, “because it’s not only about the dogs having fun, but about their safety. If a dog is an escape artist, we take that into account. Or if you have an older dog with low energy levels, then we take that into account.”
Daycare and boarding are not their only services, they also have a spa and they run a doggie taxi service (location dependent) if a client is busy and can’t drop their pet off in the morning, or pick them up in the afternoon.
“We don’t want to forget the spa services,” said David. “We can do an exit bath after a sweaty day of play, we trim nails, clean ears, brush teeth, and clean tear ducts. We also do de-matting, comb-outs, and a de-shedding brush out to get rid of loose under layers of fur.” The one thing they will not initially be set up to do is clipping and breed specific grooming.
While the love of dogs drew them to the franchise, so did the family corporate culture that runs throughout the organization, from the CEO to the kennel attendants in each franchise. “If things are good, or things are bad, you want to be able to share with family,” says Zena. “And they are there to listen.”
“And everyone up and down the line is so transparent,” adds Zena. “On the Hounds Town USA website, there is a walk-through video of the facilities. On the website, you can see where the dogs are housed and what a day at the facility will be like for them from a doggie point of view.”
David began in the automotive industry, and ran a retail chain for 14 years, but was looking for something else to do. Zena is a professional administrative assistant and loves helping people.
Initially, they started looking for businesses within the automotive field, but nothing fit. While originally from Middle Tennessee, they had lived away from the area long enough to know that it is the best place to be and they wanted to stay in the area. Finding Hounds Town USA was just what they were looking for, and Gould was looking for someone like them.
“Smyrna is a great market because there are many pet owners in the area who commute to work and need reliable and trustworthy pet care when they work and travel,” noted Gould. “We are thrilled to bring our unique pet care concept to the Smyrna community…”
Learn more about Hounds Town USA at houndstownusa.com.
That building is small, no outdoor space and a train track directly behind it
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