After spending the better part of two decades working with dogs, Nikki Johnson is opening up her own small dog daycare in Kirkland, named after her own pet.
Pickles Playland had a soft opening in July and will be fully opening on Oct. 20. The small dogs daycare was already full of excited animals on a recent weekday morning, and Johnson said when she opened it was so popular she had a waiting list of around 15 people. She’s had a pet sitting and walking business for around seven years and said many of her clients are crossing over to book their dogs at her daycare.
“I’ve been working with dogs for 16 years, so it just seemed like a natural progression,” she said.
The daycare is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and from noon to 4 p.m. on the weekend. Members can swing their dogs by and drop them off while they work, shop or if they just want their four-legged friend to have a good time, Johnson said. Staff members reinforce basic obedience training and three are generally working at any given time. Johnson said she tries to maintain a comfortable place for the dogs, complete with natural plant-based cleaners, essential oils and plants in the daycare that deter fleas.
“One of the No. 1 focuses is trying to be a homelike environment,” Johnson said.
The dogs are separated into two groups: those with lots of energy and those that are more reserved to better take care of them during the day. Couches are provided as are resting zones where playing isn’t allowed, and the facility has a fenced outdoor deck area for fresh air. The daycare accepts dogs up to 20 inches in height and does not have weight requirements.
In addition to being a daycare, members can swing by for a beer or some wine during the weekends. Both the outdoor patio and the inside register have alcohol available for purchase. Johnson said this allows dog owners to hang out with their pets as well as see how they run the daycare center.
“I understand that they would want to see a little bit of what we do during the day,” she said.
Pickles Playland will host events that range from educational to pure recreation and members will get free access to most events. Yoga classes will also be held every other Saturday.
The pet industry across the country has been growing rapidly over the past decade. According to the American Pet Products Association, the pet industry generated $43 billion in 2008, a figure that increased to nearly $70 billion in 2017. This includes food, supplies, vet care, purchases and pet services like daycares and grooming. In particular, grooming and boarding generated more than $6 billion in sales in 2017.
Johnson said she eventually wants to open up four more locations on the Eastside.
“Our main goal for the play land is not just to have somewhere for dogs to go when their people are at work, but have somewhere that helps,” she said. “Any way that we can help people is something that we think is really helpful to the community.”