By Jeff Neiburg
Jim Henry’s second career choice was a simple one for him. After selling the family business he inherited, Henry Brothers Auto Body in Stanton, Henry wanted to do something else. And cars weren’t his thing.
With four dogs and occasionally the two granddogs his daughter drops off at his home, he was basically running a doggy day care every day and not getting paid to do it.
So his wife suggested he take that and run with it.
On Dec. 18, Henry opened the second Delaware location of the Dog Stop franchise in Middletown. The first, in Prices Corner, opened in 2015.
The Dog Stop offers day care, boarding and retail and soon will offer grooming.
The business, based in Pittsburgh, is one of at least three national franchises in Delaware along with Dogtopia (Elsmere) and Camp Bow Wow (Ogletown).
As people continue the trend of pouring money into their pets – the dog grooming and boarding industry nearly doubled in the past decade, according to market research from IBISWorld – business opportunities abound.
The American Pet Products Association estimates pet industry spending will eclipse $70 million in
“Over time, with the pet industry and the way it is going, with pet food stores as big as grocery stores almost, people are treating their pets more and more like their babies, like their families,” Henry said.
“I was nervous at first. It’s a lot of responsibility, but I’m enjoying it so far. It’s what I expected but a little better.”
Henry said the Dog Stop, which opened at an awkward time before the holidays, has around 10 to
12 regular “customers,” or dogs it has on a daily basis, and about 10 more dogs took a temperament
test last Saturday.
The cost for day care is $6 per hour, $17 for a half day (up to six hours) and $26 for a full day. Boarding, which includes room, bedding, bowls and a full day of day care, is $39.
The facility, at 108 Sleepy Hollow Drive, has 10 employees, including two full-time managers.
Henry, who had two weeks of corporate training in Pittsburgh, said he’s most intrigued by trying to get to know every dog that comes to the Dog Stop and learning more about the pets. Sid, a bulldog, for example, a Dog Stop regular, doesn’t like to be pet on his head, so he gets more butt rubs.
“I know I can’t be their parents, but I will treat them
just like my own (dog),” Henry said.
The Dog Stop offers 8,000 square feet of indoor space and 2,000 outside. There are various play areas, a room for boarding (which is monitored, of course, by camera during the overnight hours) and even a couch with a “Cuddle Time” sign above it.
If Henry ever needs a reminder how far removed from the auto shop he is, that sign should do i