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'Book now:' Dog boarding services backlogged, already filling up for holiday season

Hagen, who has owned her dog day care business for 18 years this year, said she has had a waitlist for people trying to board their dogs since Memorial Day weekend. During the week there are scattered openings, but weekends are going fast. Her next weekend openings are just after the end of July.

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Joy Hagen is the co-owner of Ruffing It Doggie Daycare and Overnight Center in Grand Forks.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — If you are wanting to take a vacation for Thanksgiving or the holiday season this year, you might want to make sure your dogs have a place to stay, as well.

“Book now,” Joy Hagen, owner of Ruffing It Doggie Day Care, said. “Book as soon as you know something.”

Hagen, who has owned her dog day care business for 18 years, said she has had a waitlist for people trying to board their dogs since Memorial Day weekend. During the week there are scattered openings, but weekends are going fast. Her next weekend openings are just after the end of July.

She has also already had customers begin booking spots for their dogs to be boarded during the holiday season — namely around Christmas.

“It's pretty much like this every summer and every Christmas,” Hagen said. “But I feel like there's more day care needed now than there ever has been before.”

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Hagen thinks one of the main catalysts for this was COVID-19 boredom. She said now people are going back to work in person, and the dogs are used to having someone home with them all the time.

“Everybody got a dog during COVID because they were home and they could train them, but everybody getting a dog during COVID when they were home with the dog all the time makes for a (dog with separation anxiety),” Hagen said.

There’s data to support her claim. According to the ASPCA, more than 23 million American households , which accounts for approximately 20% of all in the United States, adopted a pet during the pandemic.

However, Ruffing It has space to board small dogs nearly any time in the future. The backlog is mostly for larger breeds, because Ruffing It has less kennel space for them.

“It’s just because they take up more space,” Hagen said. “Also, more people bring their small dogs with them. It's easier to take a small dog with you wherever you go than it is to take a big lab or something like that.”

Petopia is booked every weekend until July 22. It filled its entire kennel capacity for the weekend before July 4 weekend in May.

“We've been open (for four years) in August, and this is the first really that I've seen that we have been this busy every single weekend like a month and a half out,” Petopia owner Katie Olsen said. “Typically we'll have some spots left and be able to squeeze the people in, but the fact that now we’re at capacity a month and a half to almost two months out is pretty crazy.”

Olsen pinned most of the backlog issues to COVID-19 complications, but more so on the pandemic having a grip on travel for vacations.

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“Now that restrictions are letting up and people are now able to travel again, they're kind of taking advantage (of it), which I’m kind of chalking it up to,” Olsen said. “That's why we're full every weekend. People are getting back out there.”

The stress of keeping up with all of the boardings and being this busy does not get to Olsen. She said she’s thankful, as this is a good problem to have.

“There are times where it's stressful, but I'm also very lucky,” Olsen said. “We are very lucky to be as busy as we are, especially after COVID where everybody kind of took a hit. There's some businesses that didn't come back from it, and luckily we stuck in there. We hung in there, and we are still this crazy busy.”

Related Topics: LOCAL BUSINESS
Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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