The Wright Pet Daycamp and Boarding owners want pets to feel at home

Mar. 17—Early last year, Jack Wright approached his parents in regard to starting his own business.

Now, he is living out his passion through The Wright Pet Daycamp and Boarding, which recently opened in Eastlake.

"For us to be able to help him work in something he's passionate about is something special," said Rob, Jack's father and business manager for The Wright Pet, located at 34929 Curtis Blvd. "He's a dog whisperer. The dogs love him and he's got a sixth sense almost."

Jack describes his role at The Wright Pet as not being a normal job and that every day is a different day.

"I've never really been a people person," he said. "I've always just kind of wanted to be by myself and doing my own thing. I started in high school, so I've been doing this for seven plus years. Since then, I've always wanted to start my own business.

"It's a different day every day because all dogs are different," he added. "They have different personalities and energy levels. Some are sassy, quiet and some just want to play all day."

For 25 years, Rob owned a manufacturing business in Cleveland. A couple of years ago, he sold it and retired. It was at that time that a business plan was developed for The Wright Pet.

"Jack approached my wife and I, and said, 'I can't do this on my own. Will you help me?' " Rob recalled. "We said absolutely, but we're first going to write a business plan. We spent at least three to four months on that."

In early October last year, the Wrights took the space on Curtis Boulevard and spent three months renovating it to make it suitable for their needs.

"The daycare space hadn't been occupied in over six years, so it needed quite a bit of work," Rob said. "We pretty much emptied the place out. We did a soft opening about the second week of January. We wanted to make sure all the systems we had were working and that we were trained properly. Riley was our first camper."

After spending about a month and a half making sure everything was running as it should, a grand opening took place March 10.

"In the meantime, we've been taking dogs," Rob said. "We've had boarding dogs and day camp dogs. I would say that we've had 10 to 12 dogs. Riley is here every day. The boarders are here overnight. Chloe's here for two weeks and then we've got some dogs that drop in a couple days a week. Some come for half days."

For dogs that aren't comfortable in pack play, The Wright Place offers a day sit, which is similar to boarding during the day, but they receive one-on-one attention and exercise, Rob said.

"We want dog owners to understand that their dogs will be absolutely safe, secure and that they're going to have fun while they're here," he said. "Those are the things that are of importance to us.

Cleanliness is also a top priority as the business is cleaned every single night," Rob said.

"Everybody who works here understands that you get to play with dogs, but you're also cleaning," he said.

Among the things that make The Wright Pet unique is the experience of its employees.

"My son's been doing this for an extensive amount of time in some reputable places similar to this," Rob said. "The size — dogs are going to have a lot more space than they would in other places and the attention they're going to get is unparalleled. We try to give as much personalized attention as possible."

The pet boarding business tends to be a bit seasonal.

"We have people who are already talking to us about spring break," Rob said. "People will be starting to book summer vacations. There aren't, because of our location, many places doing what we're doing and there's a need for these types of services, so people are always scrambling around looking for boarding because it gets booked up fast."

Generally, people seeking to board their dogs are going away for the weekend in addition to vacation travel.

"As far as day camp, day camps fill up fast," Rob said. "People are getting involved in the day camp early. We expect that there are going to be people who are going to want their dogs here regularly.

"Most people, particularly the Millennial generation, the largest dog-owning generation, want their dogs to socialize, be exercised and to be able to play," he added. "That part of the business is driven by young professionals who want to drop their dog in the morning and pick them up at night."

Adamant about identifying the right people and doing everything they can do to make sure they're trained properly, and make sure they're comfortable, success is dictated by employees, Rob said.

"It's not for everybody, but we think there's a good opportunity for younger people, which is the way my son started," he said. "He started when he was going to Solon High School."

Four employees are currently on payroll and they work depending on how many dogs are at The Wright Place.

"We want the dog to feel as much at home as possible," Rob said. "Bring blankets, pillows and the food they eat every day so there's little change in their routine. We also offer a program where if you're boarding and your dog is comfortable with other dogs, we offer a package at half price where that dog can board overnight and spend the day in day camp with the other dogs.

"If you're going on vacation for a week or two, then you know your dog's going to be engaged, having fun and hopefully not noticing as much of a difference from being at home while being here."

Once the lease is up after five years, Jack hopes to build his own place and have it be the same size if not bigger. Before services are expanded, Rob wants to make sure the two base businesses, boarding and the day camp, are nailed.

"At that point, we'll feel comfortable to offer bathing," he said. "The outside expansion will happen as we get closer to the better months of the year. We want to be able to offer a nature walk, so we would transport the dog safely and walk them through the parks."

Eventually, dog grooming and training opportunities are among the things the Wrights would like to have implemented in the business.

"At night, these large play areas aren't used, so we are trying to identify trainers who might need space we could lease to them," Rob said.

Day camp hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and boarding services are offered every day of the week.

"We are staffed here from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. for boarding," Rob said, noting that there are cameras throughout the business so the pets are able to be monitored. Owners are also able to view the play areas and the kennel 24/7 by downloading an app.

"These are their children," Rob said. "The dog owners tell us when they get fed, how much they get fed, what medications they have, when those need to be applied, so we have all the information we need so the dog is maintaining the same routine."