Tail Wags had its official Grand Opening 12 months ago. Today…
- we’re 510 members strong
- we proudly collaborate with 8 local small businesses to keep our lounge vibrant with quality products
- we repeatedly welcome donations from over a dozen friendly neighbors
- we pay forward with donations of our own to over half a dozen animal rescues (+ other charities)
- we hosted our 1st of several adoption events supporting 4 rescue groups
- we hosted our 1st event with nearly 40 dogs in our park and zero doggie scuffles
- we employed 15 dog lovers (6 currently on staff), most of whom seek a career working with animals
- we made Ohio Magazine’s Best of Ohio list, sharing editors picks in Columbus with only two others (the CMA and Hotel Leveque – honored and humbled to be in that company!)
- we witness each day countless reminders of how special that bond is between dog and their human
- and more, and more
What a year of “firsts” it has been. A little about our journey and Jake & I, your creators of Columbus’ 1st indoor dog park and lounge…
The journey is not easy. With every turn, there’s both hope and challenge. Opening a unique concept takes time to take in. Some members immediately see a value and others take a bit more time to learn how to use our space. Some see a fit and some do not. The truth is, many people walk in thinking our use is good for a quick play date with their pup when it’s too cold or rainy out and it’s our job to show them how it can be so much more.
OUR START. OUR HEART.
My story began with Jake, a scruffy little 4-month old sweetheart who was up for adoption. I gave him a home. He took my heart. I rescued him. He gave my life new meaning. Being a dog owner is so much more than just giving and receiving affection or company. It’s the every day choices that you make to raise them healthy, safe, happy and loved. I give that my all. Today, that is what Tail Wags is really about. A furry-fun place where bonds are made richer through moments of practicing a command, throwing a frisbee, or playing fetch; through learning how your dog communicates with new pups they meet; through seeing their preferred play style with their familiar buddies; through showing interest in helping them be more comfortable in social environments in a healthy way; through bringing them along to enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend or get some work done only to be steps away from a playground for them; through short moments of wet kisses, furry affection or even just a look at their human that screams “I love you so much mommy/daddy!”. Dog owners know what “look” I mean.
OUR DOG LOVER MEMBERS.
What is fascinating to me in our first year is seeing who our concept has appealed to the most. At our peak, we averaged over 30 dogs/day on weekends and over 20 dogs/day on weekdays (a goal milestone – yay!). Our most frequent and loyal members love Tail Wags for every moment listed above, and so much more. They’re owners who are especially careful with what their pups are exposed to; who take a proactive approach to teaching them healthy habits; and most of all – who genuinely love to bond with their furry best friend. Not just for 30 minutes. Not just to tire them out. But because something sparks in their hearts knowing that their pup is healthy, safe, happy and absolutely loved. Yes, we are in love with our members (especially the ones that speak woof!).
OUR DOG LOVER TEAM.
Just as fascinating, has also been the team we have formed. After all, Tail Wags would not be possible without a team who is fully aligned with our values, beliefs, and promises. A team that knows very well the value of their contributions and are fully engaged in every part of running Tail Wags (not just what’s in their job description). A team made up of the best cheerleaders (yes, they can be male too). A team that shows enthusiasm, excitement, initiative, talent, ideas, freedom. A team that not only has embraced changes, but pushed for more to make us better.
For example, our park opened up opportunities for improvement as it relates to safety (having dogs in a closed social environment comes with its risks). So as a team, we improved protocols, training and processes – all with consultation of trusted certified dog behavioral specialist and veterinarian. Our bar was already high; we just wanted it higher. One year later, we can proudly say that we have had ZERO outbreaks of spreadable dog diseases and ZERO dog fights involving penetration and/or injury (another success – double yay!). This is mostly attributable to our cleaning/sanitation standards and dog play supervision, separation, deescalation procedures. I’m beyond grateful for my team, your Park Leaders who make Tail Wags what it is today.
OUR PUPPY YEAR BEHIND US.
So what’s next? As I said at the start, with every turn there is hope and challenge. Hope in the great triumphs we have had. Challenge in weathering the upcoming slow season. To be blunt, we have to keep the lights on. So we’re diving deep in what we try to do well – listening to our members to make Tail Wags a better place for them and “the best” place for their pups. The goal is for more people to see the immediate value that many do already.
Circling back to that dream that came true. Naturally, my dream of owning a place where dogs happily and safely played together included Jake in it. As it turns out, he struggled adjusting to sharing his mommy with so many new pups. He’s officially “senior” now so you’ll mostly find him relaxed very comfortably in his office – when he feels like coming to work that is (oh the life of a Chief Furry Officer, the struggle is real!). Occasionally, you’ll find him happily bounce his way into the park with only one focus in mind – to play with mommy. He still loves his playdates, but tends to prefer familiar paws more than new ones now. He also became my little pirate after an eye-removal surgery last year (you may have noticed in pictures). My little pirate is still a sweetheart, patient, loving, playful, heart-melter. He continues to be the inspiration for Tail Wags except now, he has a much larger pack of wagging tails following his lead.
A very heartfelt thank you to everyone who was part of our puppy stage and here’s to MANY MORE years of keeping tails wagging at Tail Wags Playground!