When Josh Feldman made the decision to work in Manhattan, he was faced with a dilemma, wondering what to do with his beloved dog, Guvner, while he toiled long hours on the job.
After a bit of research, he decided on doggie daycare.
Impressed by his experience, he decided to start his own doggie daycare/boarding business when he returned to Harrisburg, opening up in a former plasma center on N. 7th Street. In just two short years, Keystone K9 was attracting more business than it could handle in that space, which prompted Feldman to take another leap, purchasing and moving into a new building nearly three times the size on N. Cameron Street.
“Our goal is to accommodate the needs of a burgeoning city, and, with the federal courthouse being built nearby, we anticipate a high demand for our services,” Feldman said.
Last month, workmen put the finishing touches on the former warehouse beneath the State Street Bridge, and Feldman and company moved in. The facility features an 8,000-square-foot indoor area with accommodations that range from an economical 30-square-foot enclosure to suites up to 100 square feet.
During the planning phase, Feldman made it a point to steer clear of the antiseptic, cold atmosphere that is prevalent in many traditional boarding facilities.
“Dogs don’t necessarily want to be in a kennel situation, so even our more economical options resemble rooms, which makes them feel more at home,” said Feldman, likening the atmosphere to that of a hotel for dogs, with a décor created with humans in mind.
“The suites all have sports themes,” he said. “We have a Steelers suite, an Eagles suite, Yankees, Orioles and so on.”
As in the previous facility, each dog is welcomed at the door, except now the reception area is more spacious. First-time boarders are evaluated according to age, size and maturity.
“We place them in the appropriate group for their play style,” said Feldman.
Indulgent pet parents can pamper their pooches by scheduling a massage or grooming appointment. Furry friends in need of instruction can take advantage of the on-site trainer who offers a variety of classes, from nose work to obedience to agility.
“One challenge we face is explaining to people that our dogs do get a tremendous amount of exercise,” said Feldman, stating that the new facility has ample space both inside and out for a romping good time.
For pooped-out and older pets, Keystone K9 offers a quiet place where they can snooze on comfy couches and soft flooring.
One thing that sets Keystone K9 apart from other facilities, according to Feldman, is 24-hour supervision.
“We have someone staying overnight with the animals so that pet owners have peace of mind,” he said. “Veterinary offices don’t even offer that, which kind of surprised me.”
The facility is open for business as early as 5:30 a.m. Business travelers are permitted to park in the lot onsite and use the Keystone K9 shuttle to continue on to the train station.
Keystone K9 even plans to partner with Abrams & Weakley, a popular pet shop in Susquehanna Township, to provide food and pet supplies.
“Sometimes, people returning home from a trip might want to pick up a few things, and this makes it convenient for them,” Feldman said.
Whole New Dog
Lauren Orazi has entrusted Feldman and his staff with a stray she adopted about a decade ago.
“Foxy wasn’t well socialized, and I was scared and nervous because she was nervous,” said the Harrisburg resident. “They broke her in a little at a time, and the difference has been unbelievable.”
Orazi laughed when she reflected back on the situation.
“She was kind of a jerk at first; she’s a little grumpy,” she said. “But they were super patient and, over time, her demeanor changed, and she even lost 10 pounds. It’s like she’s a whole new dog, and I’m so relieved.”
Hearing such stories warms Feldman’s heart.
“I really enjoy watching the animals develop relationships with each other and the people who tend to them,” he said. “We have a lot of success stories like Lauren’s—people who think that their dogs aren’t socialized and, when you put them in a daycare setting, then you find out they are.”
As for the dog responsible for helping Feldman pursue his dream, he sadly has crossed the rainbow bridge. Feldman wiped away a tear as he thought of his old friend.
“The day that I knew we were getting too big and had to move, I met with city officials and, when I returned, Guvner was very ill,” he said. “He died that night. It was like he was saying to me, ‘Okay, I got you this far, you are on your own now.’”
Feldman’s heart still aches for his beloved Guvner, but, like any true animal lover, Feldman knows the importance of providing a happy home to another animal in need. Now, Dr. Watson, a Samoyed-Eskimo mix, stands by his side as a loyal companion and cheer giver, and that is certainly nothing to sniff at.
Keystone K9 is located at 147 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg. For more information, call 717-384-5900 or visit www.keystone-k9.com.