Lifelong love of dogs leads to new Jasper business

From Local Sources

DowntownDogA young entrepreneur is opening a new business in Jasper’s downtown sector, and she’s looking to bring a personal touch to a corner of the market she’s passionate about.

Hannah Fuhs, 22, is in the final stages of preparing to open her new dog boarding and grooming business, Downtown Dog.

Fuhs purchased 10,000 square feet of space at 611 E. Sixth Street along the Jasper Riverwalk in April. For the past month and a half, Fuhs and her boyfriend Heath Vollmer have raced to finish renovating the building, constructing kennels, putting up fences and painting her new space. She plans to have a soft opening the last full week of May with an official opening day of May 30.

“This has been a work in progress since November, just trying to figure out what I wanted to do, where I wanted to do it and who I wanted to do it with,” Fuhs said. “This is where my heart is, and I think it shows.”

Downtown Dogs plans to offer self-serve dog washing, professional grooming, doggy day care and overnight dog boarding with space for up to 15 dogs of all sizes. It will offer indoor and outdoor open play areas of more than 1,000 square feet each to allow day care and overnight guests to roam around, play and socialize. There’s also separate space for the overnight dogs who prefer their privacy.

“My goal is to have the dogs outside of their kennels as much as possible,” Fuhs said. “I think people who board their dogs have this idea that there dog is going to be in a crate all day, but they’ll have the same schedule as the day care dogs with a big, roomy kennel in the back as well.”

Prices for self-serve dog washing will be assessed by weight. Grooming stations will be raised bathtubs with ramps to make dog washing easier on you and your dog, with all shampoo, towels, hair dryers and cologne provided.

At this point, Fuhs will operate alone, but she plans to add staff as she starts to gain a customer base. She says her first hire will be a professionally trained dog groomer.

“In the beginning it will just be me, but I do have a lot of people interested in working for me. A lot of people love working with dogs,” she said.

Fuhs says she is already getting daily calls from curious pet owners about day care, grooming and boarding. She’s booked a couple reservations weeks in advance, but plans to take business as it comes. Being located along the Riverwalk has given her great exposure with the high volume of people who use the path to walk their dog.

Fuhs’ first foray into the world of animal care services was when she worked as a veterinary assistant at the Animal Medical Center of Dubois while attending Jasper High School. She also volunteered as an adoption specialist at the Dubois County Humane Society and continues to foster rescued dogs.

“In kindergarten, I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, but I didn’t want to go to school for that,” she said. “Now I get to work with dogs, but I don’t have to be a veterinarian.”

After graduating in 2012, Fuhs attended University of Southern Indiana for a year before pursuing massage therapy school in Louisville.

Fuhs is the daughter of Dan Fuhs of Jasper and Nannette Jones of Holland, and she currently owns and operates her own message therapy business out of Health Pointe in Jasper. Her entrepreneurial experience with her massage practice has prepared her for this next venture, she said.

Once her business is up and running, Fuhs said she’s interested in experimenting with a take-home program for dogs that might need more attention or that have a little anxiety. Fuhs said her experience fostering dogs through the humane society sparked the idea.

“I basically have dogs in my care that aren’t mine at all times, and I love them like they’re my own,” she said. “That’s something extra that I don’t think a lot of places offer where I would bring someone’s dog into my home.”

For more information on Downtown Dogs, visit www.downtowndogonline.com or call 812-309-3162.