CLINTON — When Kelly Scotthanson went searching for a good place to board her dog Justine, she couldn’t find the perfect spot for her poodle on the island.
So she started her own doggie day care and boarding business, Misty Vale Farm, in Clinton.
Cats are welcome, too.
“I did a ton of research on how to develop an environment where pets away from home don’t get stressed out,” she explained. “The idea was to create as much of a home atmosphere as possible.”
To that end, she transformed her family’s 2.5-acre property a quarter-mile south of Highway 525 on Maxwelton Road to provide lots of room to roam.
The back yard is fenced into separate spaces, the living room features strategically placed rugs and there are separate entrances for dogs and cats. There’s even a “cattery” playscape for feline boarders in a room of their own.
There are no kennels and no cages.
“Dogs are by nature pack animals, and here I’m the leader of the pack,” she said. During a recent interview, whenever Scotthanson sat, the three dogs on the premises — Cooper, Joey and Justine — flopped down. When she stood and moved around, so did they.
Scotthanson provides the first visit free for new clients, then charges $25 for day care (though never on Sundays) or $50 a night for longer-term boarding. The fee for cats is $15 per night.
Other services available include nail trims, administration of medication and shots.
“We accept a limited number of pets, so each receives the attention they need,” Scotthanson said. “Personal, loving care under fun, playful conditions is what we offer.”
But only if all the guests are on the same page, as it were.
“If the dogs aren’t friendly, if they don’t get along, they can’t stay here,” she added. “I’ve had to turn away a few pets because of a bad attitude and inability to fit in.”
Before moving to South Whidbey five years ago with her husband and daughter Emma, 10, she worked as a veterinary technician while picking up a master’s degree in sustainable business along the way.
That background has helped her garner 25 clients since opening on May 1.
She’s also a firm believer in marketing and the value of social networking. When her local pet supplier referred a potential new client, she stopped by with a $5 gift card as a way of saying thanks.
“The word will spread if the product and service warrant it,” she said.
It seems to be working. Scotthanson described the reaction of one potential client after showing her around the premises.
“The heck with my pet, can I stay here?” the woman asked.
Seriously, though, her cause is the paws.
“Dogs need to have day care that is fun, stimulating and safe while their people are at work or running errands,” Scotthanson said.
Scotthanson added that life on the farm is fun for dogs, with plenty of outdoor areas to run and play in the fenced field or in the woods.
“Interesting sights, smells and opportunities abound for canines,” she said. “Dogs are separated into small and large breeds as needed. Inside a home environment makes all pets feel welcome.”
Cat boarding is in a jungle-themed room with a large play-space that includes a tree to climb. “Cats have their own deluxe area with spaces to explore, toys and views, and is both comfortable and secure with plenty of play opportunities. Their area is completely separate and calm. Every cat gets to enjoy private time in the playroom daily.”
For more information, call Scotthanson at 321-7840 or visit her Web site at www.mistyvalefarm.com.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.