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Fido and Rover have a home away from home

Rochester Business Journal
August 9, 2013

Fred and Kristine Campo are not your average dog lovers. They have turned their adoration and their experience dog-sitting for friends and family into a business endeavor.
 
The Campos, owners of K-9 Grandparents, an in-home dog boarding business, serve several families in the Rochester region.
 
"We have been baby-sitting dogs for family and friends, and friends of family and friends, for over a decade. We love dogs, so we enjoy it," Fred Campo says.
 
The Campos had their own black Labrador for 13 years before they decided to charge for their boarding services some two years ago.
 
"The main idea behind what we offer is to keep the dog as comfortable and as unstressed as possible," Fred says. "We want to make our home feel as much like their home as we can."
 
Within reason, whatever the dog does at home, it will do while it is boarding at K-9 Grandparents, including maintaining sleep and feeding schedules, even sleeping on the bed or lounging on other furniture at the Campos' home in Rochester. If dog owners request that their pets be taken on walks, the Campos walk them around the neighborhood.
 
The owners of K-9 Grandparents want their canine clients to be relaxed and unstressed, which, according to Fred Campo, "can be a little awkward when some of the boarders don't want to leave."
 
Kristine Campo, who works as a travel agent for Rochester Travel Group in Chili, came up with the idea of starting the boarding business. She thought it would be a good way of having dogs around without vet bills or other expenses that might accompany ownership of a pet.
 
"The choice of the name was a joint decision," Fred says. "We spent a lot of time tossing around possibilities, but this one just seemed right."
 
A retired barber, Fred says he has plenty of time to spend with his four-legged clients, so they are rarely by themselves.
 
"We take only one or two dogs at a time, so we can give them lots of love and attention," he says.
 
Generally, K-9 Grandparents' customers use its services for a few days or a week. The Campos also have had stays lasting up to 35 days.
 
"Most of our clients are families with kids who are going on vacations to places that don't allow pets," Fred says.
 
Other types of customers can be individuals in the middle of a residential move, those leaving to care for an elderly or sick relative, or people who travel for work-related conferences or events. School breaks and holidays are the busiest times of year for K-9 Grandparents.
 
"The only frustrating part of the business is when we book time for clients and then have to turn others away who need the same dates, only to have the original booking cancel out at the last minute," Fred says. "Fortunately, we do have some wonderful regulars that we can count on."
 
The basic rate for boarding at K-9 Grandparents is $25 a day. Discounts are offered for boarding multiple dogs at the same time, as well as for stays lasting longer than two weeks.
 
"We have no plans of expanding our business, as that would defeat what we are trying to do," Fred says. "If we were to start taking more dogs just for the sake of money, we wouldn't be different from any other kennel."
 
Katie Burgstrom is a Rochester Business Journal intern.

Small Business is a biweekly feature focusing on entrepreneurs. Send suggestions for future Small Business stories to Associate Editor Smriti Jacob at sjacob@rbj.net.

8/9/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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