Fifty years ago at around this time, I proudly graduated from the University of Washington (in the midst of protest marches against the Viet-Nam war) with a degree in communications—one of those ambivalent sheepskins that by title doesn’t really provide a graduate with any specific skill sets that prepare them to make their mark in the world—rather, simply signifies that one has honed their communication and marketing skills but little beyond that.
Upon graduation I “retired” from Albertson’s in the North end of Seattle where I had been first a box boy—and then a checker—as this job saw me both through high school (Shoreline HS) and college. My first job out of college was at KBES Radio located above Mad Anthony’s in Bellevue. A beleaguered FM station with a handful of stalwart listeners, my job was to convince retailers in the area (Kirkland, Bellevue, EastSide, ergo KBES) they should advertise their wares with us. Some did. Most didn’t. Didn’t matter, they all got about the same results. For the most part, zilch.
However, in our zeal to provide a degree of value-add to our advertisers, we became the sponsor of the Redmond Bike Parade. One of our DJ’s, Steve Larsen (on-air name) was the official Grand Marshal of the parade, which wheeled down main street, where there were maybe a dozen businesses (this was before the advent of Microsoft, Amazon and all the others). It was a simpler time. Imagine, no traffic in Redmond!
Move the clock ahead 50 years through a marriage, a few family deaths, half a dozen jobs and two new businesses (including a jungle lodge on the Amazon) a couple of wars, the technology revolution and a healthy serving of wrinkles, victories and heartbreaks. Essentially a life time. And I’ve come full circle.
Redmond is now a big deal. 66,000 residents as I understand it in the city limits, and over 65% of those folks with dogs. However, up until April of this year I was fat and sassy working for a biotech company out of Northern California (right in the midst of the Sonoma fires today). In fact, I created their family of animal healthcare products called MicrocynAH® that eventually surpassed all the human products (wound care, dermatology, eye care) in total units sold! But beginning in December of this past year, that company’s board began laying off employees including the CEO, CFO, COO and eventually me! Fortunately, I had placed myself in a strong negotiating position and thus was able to move beyond that job with a relative degree of financial security. Yet, I was wondering what I was going to do or be when I grew up.
As serendipity would have it, I had an associate from our biotech days who lived in Atlanta and she, along with her husband and business partner, had opened two doggy daycares down in peach-tree-Waffle-House country. They convinced me that the doggy resort industry was booming and a good living could be had.
Now, I’ve loved dogs all my life though as a kid, most of them ended up as freeway slaughter. That caused me a great deal of grief. So when I became a father myself living in North City I refused to get us a dog though the boys pleaded with me often. We had an unfenced yard and no funds for a doggy daycare—and I didn’t want them to experience that nasty heartache of losing a beloved pet.
It wasn’t until 1995—when we moved from the Shoreline area to Union Hill east of Redmond up on six beautiful acres of wetlands and evergreens and even a fishing pond—that we finally got us a K9! The first was a black lab named Blackberry. Next came a loving mix of husky and lab named Scooter. Then our first German Shepherd named Sasha! She was my girlfriend, always awaiting me at bed time as she warmed my pillow. Then her half-sister, Rogue, joined us from Atlanta. Followed by the adoption of Sir Finnigan Finigerski (our Polish/Irish golden doodle).
When my associates suggested I investigate opening a doggy resort, my interest was certainly piqued. I just had to convince myself on paper that I could make a respectable living pursuing this end-of-career path. Well, since we’re still a week from opening, I’m uncertain if this is the case. I believe it to be so. In our two months of building out (my stepdaughter, Delaney, who is Sasha’s manager and myself), we have received daily affirmations from the community that a doggy daycare just blocks from Marymoor Park is very much needed.
In our cage-free daycare in which dogs are segregated by size, temperament and play style, we also offer joint-friendly rubberized flooring, structured playtime, obedience training, grooming and the retail of some pretty spectacular doggy products. I invite you to stop in so we can answer your questions, share a cup of jo, and talk about the Redmond good ole days! Or please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.