A local entrepreneur is combining her passion for pets and her parents’ good advice to launch a kennel and dog training facility in the West End without taking a penny from the banks.
Valerie Paul, 26, is turning her lifelong love of dogs into a brick-and-mortar business after three years of training rowdy pups at her clients’ homes.
Impawsible Pups, a 3,600-square-foot space at 2109 Spencer Rd. across from the Libbie Place Shopping Center that is part kennel, part doggie day care, part pet spa and part retail store is on track to open Monday.
“We’re going to start out slow with six or seven dogs boarding at a time,” Paul said. “But as we grow, hopefully, I can add employees and take on more dogs.”
Paul has two employees, including her husband, Hans Paul.
She graduated with a degree in music in 2007 but chose another field.
“I had two great loves: music and dogs,” she said. “So when I decided not to pursue music, I pursued my other passion, and I’m so glad I did.”
Paul received a master dog trainer certificate and launched her business in March 2009, getting her first clients by advertising on Craigslist. The Ashland native said that training dogs came naturally to her.
“I grew up with five dogs and no siblings, so I think I relate to dogs better than I do to people,” Paul said.
As her business grew — she had more than 100 clients last year — she set her sights on starting a kennel.
“I paid myself very little and saved everything I could,” she said.
She began to put together a business plan last year and in January started talking to banks.
But she got a little help from fate when the kennel DogServices vacated their building on Spencer Road and moved closer to Staples Mill Road. When the opportunity arose to move into a building that was already set up as a kennel, Paul realized she had enough in savings to start the business without a bank loan.
“I got calls from banks I’d met with to set up second meetings and said ‘Nope, don’t need you anymore,’” she said. “Both my parents are accountants, and one of the main things they instilled in me about money is unless you have to finance something, don’t.”
Paul wouldn’t discuss how much she’s investing in the business, which includes extensive renovations to the building, saying only that it’s “a pretty penny.” But some of the costs are offset by the fact that, conveniently, her husband is a professional carpenter.
The pair, along with their other employee Shannon Cain, have been putting in 13 and 14 hour days for the past two weeks ahead of Monday’s launch.
Impawsible Pups will charge $18 a day for doggie day care and $10 per half-day, with discounts available for multiple dogs.
One-on-one training classes start at $400 for a six-week basic course and $300 for a four-week advanced course, in which the dog learns to obey off leash, but the cost could be more or less depending on the dog’s needs.
The kennel also has a room for boarding cats.
Impawsible Pups will also offer a sleep-away camp of sorts: Dogs can stay at the kennel for about a month while being fed, walked, and trained to be a model canine. That package starts at $1,200 and increases or decreases depending on the needs of the dog.