ABOUT US –
3 DOGS BOARDING AND DAYCARE brings a unique new service to Portland: Cage-free dog boarding in a facility as spacious as a traditional dog kennel and 24/7 supervision of resident dogs by trained staff.
3 DOGS is owned and operated by Anne Graves, an experienced veterinary technician, and Michael Lauria, a professional dog trainer with years of experience managing traditional and cage-free dog boarding businesses.
3 DOGS BOARDING AND DAYCARE opened its doors on November 15, 2008. The idea was to start a home-style, cage-free dog boarding business, in a building as spacious as most traditional commercial kennels. We also wanted the building to have plenty of natural light, and lots of outdoor space. Finally, we wanted it to be close to neighborhoods that would benefit from the business’s unique services. As it turned out, finding the ideal location was a much taller order than we’d anticipated. We spent months talking to realtors and viewing buildings all over town. We even explored the possibility of purchasing an existing dog boarding business. But nothing that we saw quite fit our vision for a safe, spacious and low-stress space for dogs.
We happened upon the NE 42nd Avenue location by chance. Although it didn’t immediately seem like a perfect fit, something about it caught our attention.
The building 3 Dogs Boarding and Daycare now occupies was constructed in the 1960s as the home of one of the famous Senn’s Drive In Dairies – a piece of Portland history familiar to most native residents. As the name suggests, the Senn’s dairies allowed customers to drive into the facilities and purchase dairy items without having to leave their automobiles. The 42nd Avenue building was the only one of several Senn’s locations to house a commercial bakery. Looking around the building today, you still see remnants of its original occupants.
Several different businesses have operated out of the 42nd Ave. location since Senn’s closed their doors, including a stereo installation shop, a grocery store and an auto repair shop. Over the years however the building had fallen into disrepair, and the notion of operating a dog boarding business in it seemed implausible, particularly on a very limited start-up budget.
But the space did possess a few characteristics that made it difficult to rule out completely, the first being its large, open floor space. There was also an expansive outdoor area – around 7000 square feet in total, which was an incredibly appealing feature. Of course the fences were completely dilapidated and would have to be almost entirely rebuilt before the space could be used. Finally, though, it was the location that sold us on the old Senn’s building. The intersection of NE 42nd and Killingsworth was within easy reach of the Hollywood, Cully, Beaumont-Wilshire and Concordia neighborhoods, to name a few. The location was also far enough away from any houses or apartment buildings to prevent a little bit of noise from being an issue. Finally, it was less than 10 minutes from the Portland International Airport (PDX), making it a convenient and appealing option for air travelers from outlying neighborhoods.
Once the decision was made to move forward, it was time to begin repairs. We dealt with the fence problem by restoring a section around a small area of the yard before opening the business, then finishing the rest during our second year of operation. The building’s interior would also require a major overhaul; windows were shattered and boarded over, the floors and walls were damaged and covered with oil stains, and new walls and windows had to be added to create the desired layout and allow in more natural light. Contractors were hired for most of the major construction, but to keep costs down, we spent long hours doing much of the work ourselves. The initial construction and preparation took roughly 6 weeks, and work continued right up until the day before the scheduled grand opening on November 15th, 2008.
It’s said that most small businesses fail within the first year, and for 3 DOGS, that first years was most definitely a struggle for survival. We opened for business shortly before the 2008 holiday season, in hopes of pulling in last minute customers from some of the nearby dog boarding facilities that would likely already be filled to capacity. To some degree the plan worked, and while we only had 7 dogs staying with us over Thanksgiving, we accrued over 30 reservations for the Christmas holiday. But days before Christmas, Portland was hit with an unusually severe snow storm. Many flights in and out of PDX were postponed or cancelled, and consequently, so were many of the dog boarding reservations. 3 DOGS was left with roughly 20 boarders for the days surrounding Christmas; not a stellar number, but to us it felt like a real beginning.
At this point it was only the two of us and one part time employee covering the 24 hours a day schedule at 3 DOGS. Anne was also working part time as a receptionist for an athletic club, while Mike was at 3 DOGS full time. Basically though, we both lived there for the first year, covering the over-night shifts as well as working days.
Numbers remained low for the next few months, but with Spring break in March 2009, came an increase in overnight boarding business. From there began a gradual, upward momentum, and by summer Anne left her receptionist job and began working at 3 DOGS full time… or even more full time in this case… and it was clear that the business was beginning to stabilize.
We soon began hiring on more staff, and as numbers grew, and word of mouth spread about 3DOGS’ distinctive services, momentum really began to build. By the start of 2010, it was clear that the business had serious potential, and was becoming a known entity among Portland’s dog owners.
Business at 3 DOGS has continued to grow over the years. Recently we decided it was time to expand. In March 2016, we purchased STAY PET HOTEL on NE Columbia Blvd. We’ll soon be expanding the daycare service at STAY, as well as implementing a cage-free boarding service.
We’re very excited to bring our years of experience and our commitment to the care of your pets to STAY, as well as to combine the best aspects of both businesses, in hopes of creating the ideal experience for our customers, and especially for our furry guests.
Anne and Mike