Garrett Brehm has always wanted to work with dogs. Since 2014, he’s been the owner of Woof. You’ll find this doggie daycare business and on 2019 P St in an old car dealership building. Just look for the bright red business sign and listen for the jubilant barking of contented dogs. Recently, as part of a series for LAA Pet Talk about local pet services, I toured the business and chatted with Brehm.
I have a passion for people and animals. I enjoy working in an environment that is challenging and ever-changing.–Garrett Brehm
To those who know Brehm’s background, it’s probably no surprise that he’s undertaken the venture of a pet business. He has roots in both animal welfare and in business. He grew up on an acreage outside of Lincoln surrounded by animals, in a family with a history of running small businesses. His grandfather especially served as an inspiration to Brehm, who majored in Political Science and Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
On average, Woof provides daycare to about forty-five dogs per day. There is about 10,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor play area, with toys and playground equipment. The outdoor space is all covered with AstroTurf. During the summer, Woof also offers a splash park with pools and sprinklers.
We strive to provide the safest and most comfortable experience for dogs, while also promoting a fun atmosphere. I also believe we have an incredibly talented team of Dog Care Specialists and I credit the members of the team for their awesome work.–Garrett Brehm
Over the past year, the focus of Woof has been on ensuring safety, comfort, and fun. It also prides itself on providing service to as many dogs as possible. Woof accepts dogs regardless of their background and is reluctant to permanently ban any dog. When a new dog arrives, a team member will assess the dog and then slowly introduce it to new playmates. Dogs are grouped by similar sizes and personalities, with aggressive dogs receiving one-on-one attention. The team believes that for every problem dog there is a solution.
To ensure the best care, Brehm has attended numerous pet conventions and conferences throughout the United States. From the knowledge that he gained from them, he created a custom-designed and personalized dog training program. His staff of eight have been required to watch videos, complete lectures, and demonstrate their ability to implement what they’ve learned before being allowed to work with dogs in the playground. Team work is vital, and during my visit I had the opportunity to observe the team in action. A group of dogs were started to congregate near the fence. Before the dogs could get agitated, team members stepped in to separate the dogs, put them on leashes, and give them time apart to calm down. Woof is working to achieve accreditation by the Professional Animal Care Certification Council, the national standard in the pet industry.
What have I learned from the business? The importance of solving problems, being patient, and having fun.–Garrett Brehm
Every business has a learning curve. Brehm points to underestimating the importance of social media and marketing as one of his initial mistakes. He says that clients love Facebook posts and seeing pictures and videos of their dogs enjoying their stay. Brehm never anticipated how the online interaction could connect Woof with the community. One time while he was eating at Scooters, he was recognized by one of the baristas. She asked if he was from Woof. When Brehm said yes, the server told him, “I follow Woof on Facebook.” She’s since become a client and brings her dog to Woof for grooming services. Actually, when I asked Brehm to sell dog owners on why they should use Woof, he once again gave a nod to social media. “I encourage everyone to read our reviews on social media, including Facebook and Google. Our clients say it best.”
There are too many funny moments to count. I’ve been told we have the most relaxed work environment and culture, so jokes and bad puns come standard.–Garrett Brehm
A memorable moment came just last week. Their daily occupancy had risen from forty-five to fifty-five. Brehm made the comment to a team member, “That’s a lot of dogs.” The response? “It doesn’t feel like it.” This made Brehm’s day. In the twelve months that they’ve been in business, he says, Woof has worked hard to make everything fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. “When everything is going smooth, a job shouldn’t feel like work. It should simply feel as if one is doing what one loves.”
In fact, Brehm’s top advice to those who aspire to work in this field is: “Remember to have fun.” He also stresses that it’s important to know the basics: Absorb as much knowledge about dogs as you can. Know their breeds, training, and personalities. Brehm notes that this will come from having your own pets and from volunteer work.
We believe in supporting the organizations that do incredible work for our community, and will do our very best to give back when we can.–Garrett Brehm
Currently, Woof offers daycare and spa services. The latter is for dogs of all sizes, breeds, and fur coats. Their salon products are all-natural, healthy, and wholesome. Woof also has supported many different non-profits including the Capital Humane Society, Dolly’s Legacy, Nebraska Vizslas, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, and the Lincoln Independent Business Association.
Brehm’s plans for Woof’s future are very much ‘big picture’. They hope in the spring of 2017 to expand into a second facility, one which will feature boarding and training classes, in addition to current services. Woof has also contracted with a local veterinarian who will be provide all-inclusive veterinary services. It should be an exciting year!
As noted at the start, LAA Pet Talk is doing a series about local pet services. If you run a pet business and are interested in being featured, please let us know in the comments. We’ll follow up with a tour and an interview. Thanks to Woof for providing photographs.