Rhonda Corey is a dog person. That’s clear from both the larger-than-life portraits of her pups on the wall of the new “playcare” business Corey opened at MGM Plaza and the thought she’s put into the design of the facility. For example, there’s what she calls a “snuggle space” that’s closed off from the main play area, for dogs that might just need a quiet moment with a caregiver.
StellaDoggo occupies a roomy, 1,500 square foot unit that was once a (human) daycare. Corey signed the lease in Sept. and has set up a homey space, with comfortable beds and baskets of toys. There is a large outdoor fenced area where pups can get some fresh air and run around.
“We’re open for business,” she said. For now, pet owners can call to schedule full- and half-day sessions. Eventually, there will be the ability to book online. Rates are based on length of stay, and buying a multi-day play pack can earn a 15% discount.
Corey’s plan is to offer small playgroups, with a ratio of one human to every 10 pups. The space has dividers to group dogs by age, size, energy level and play style. She has partnered with a local trainer to do complimentary one-hour assessments of pups before they are accepted into the program,
“During the evaluation we’ll try out all different scenarios,” she said. “Small groups, big groups, outside, inside, does the dog settle in a crate? Just an evaluation of their needs and how they’ll fit in. There’s no charge for that.”
Corey expects to be open Monday through Friday, with drop-offs beginning at 7 a.m. and pickups by 6 p.m. She has experience as a dog walker and has done boarding and brings her Italian greyhound and English bulldog to work with her.
She says working with the town went smoothly under the new zoning bylaw.
“The permitting was so quick and warm and helpful for me,” said Corey. She was able to easily switch the zoning from retail to pet services and says the 1721 Main St. location, just next to the Post Office, is exactly what she was looking for.
“Most pet care businesses are in industrial areas,” she said, often with cement floors, chain-link fences and artificial turf. “If you’re on the way to work, you don’t have time to drive over there. I wanted to fit in with people’s commutes and in their schedules and their daily lives.”
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