Snuggles, Snacks and Rubbing Backs
Snuggles and snacks are free at Elkhound Ranch Kennels. They’re a part of the basic care package every pet receives while making this sprawling retreat their home away from home.
Nestled in the northland off Barry Road, this kennel and training academy first opened some 30 years ago, but the owners, Adam and Sara Munsterman, are relative newcomers. They purchased the kennel in August of 2013 after a long search for “just the right” place.
Adam, a native Missourian, was raised on a farm near Appleton. His daily routine included caring for cattle, pigs, dogs, and horses throughout his childhood. After college and a degree in construction management, his focus shifted, taking him to New Mexico where he enjoyed a successful career and most importantly, met his wife, Sara. It was her love for animals, especially dogs that became a driving force in the couple’s creation of a family business.
“I wanted a career that would allow me to spend more time with my family, something we could participate in with our four children,” Adam recalls. “Sara and I were brainstorming one night about building a business around what we loved most. I missed the satisfaction a farming lifestyle provided; it was a happy and healthy lifestyle. Sara’s passion has always been working with animals. Her love and respect for animals outweighs any I’ve ever seen. We agreed that caring for pets was something we could do as a family, and at the same time, provide a much-needed service for others. It was the best of both worlds.” So they started looking at kennels for sale.
“We found several in New Mexico, but then decided to look in my home state,” says Adam. “The most appealing prospect, partially because of its sprawling 11-acre site, was Elkhound Ranch. Its expansion possibilities made it a natural.”
Currently they have 102 runs with 55 indoor kennels and 47 indoor/outdoor runs.
“Pet owners with big dogs especially appreciate the indoor/outdoor runs,” Adam says. “They’re 14-foot runs, with 4 feet indoors and 10 feet outside with a doggy door so the pets can go in and out. It’s nice knowing your pets have room to run.”
Since taking over the business, Adam and Sara have expanded services to offer several types of training, daycare and grooming. They’re also prepared to accommodate handicapped pets. “We’ve cared for dogs with wheel chairs (supporting their back legs so they can walk) and we’ve had a few diabetic pets. We focus on doing the right thing for each and every customer.”
The core staff of Elkhound Ranch consists of numerous kennel techs, six family members, a groomer, and two trainers for obedience including on leash and off leash control and behavior modification
And, “Yes,” Sara confirms, “We do tend to treat the animals like children. The main thing we strive for is for our customers to feel like they’re taking their pets over to Adam and Sara’s home; we want them to feel we’re an extension of family.
“Owners care deeply about their pets. We have one boarder who brings homemade spaghetti for her dog to eat the entire time it’s here. And, of course, she also brings some for the employees. Some pet parents bring in binders of instructions on what they want for each individual day, when they want their dog walked, which packages and services (senior, spa, VIP) are wanted by the day. We even have a couple that brings an instruction manual of sorts on how to care for their pets, not just any pet, but theirs.”
It’s not uncommon for Sara to give out her cell number so parents can check on their pets. She’s also sent photos, videos and is adept at providing reassurance. No one has asked to talk to their dog on the phone…yet.
The best thing about working with the animals?
“It’s simply being with them,” smiles Sara. “It’s winning them over. Sometimes pets are shy or fearful when they come in. After the first day, I’ve earned their trust and we’ve established a bond that will be there forever. The payoff is the relationship we establish with the animals and their owners.”
Long term, the owners of Elkhound Ranch want to make their business into a neighborhood icon. They’re working towards enhancing the site’s park-like appearance. Currently, they provide private walking trails and an off leash dog park, both open to the public.
“The more people learn about us, the more business we get,” says Adam. “Last year Elkhound Ranch had 17,000 board nights; that’s about 48 dogs per night on average. That doesn’t include “Cat Nap Inn” where the feline friends hang out.”
“What we really provide here is peace of mind,” Adam concludes. “Everyday life events such as funerals, vacations, unexpected travel or even preplanned business travel may mean that someone’s pet needs care; we want to be here for them so they don’t have to worry.”
Both Adam and Sara agree they’ve made some amazing friendships with customers and their pets. “It’s been a rewarding start; some of our clients are also now our best friends,” Adam says.
“We’re grateful for the overwhelming support and encouragement we’ve received from our new and existing customers. We’re truly blessed to be a part of this community.”
For more information, visit KCPetCare.com.