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VIEW WINNERS FOR PETS

Pets: Sam & Danni's Pet Resort & Spa barks up the right tree

Alyssa Zaczek, azaczek@stcloudtimes.com

SAUK RAPIDS — In the more than 15 years Sam & Danni's Pet Resort & Spa has been in business, the people there have made furry friends of all shapes and sizes.

"We don't turn dogs away," said Corrie Proell, assistant manager of the pet resort. "We take dogs of all kinds here."

Named for the owner's two black Labradors, Sam & Danni's is the 2016 Best of Central Minnesota winner for Best Pet Boarding, and was also a finalist for Best Groomer, behind winner Knotty Paws of Sartell. The pet resort offers a variety of services and amenities for pets, including overnight boarding (which can include a goodnight hug and treat for your furry friend, for an extra fee), day care, all-day outdoor play and more options.

The Times sat down with Proell and manager Dave McLaughlin to discuss the pet resort's lasting success.

Question: What is a day in the life like for you here at Sam & Danni's?

Dave: Our days start before 6 a.m. The first routine is to let the dogs out to do their business; while they're out, the cleaning process gets started.

Then when they come in, the feeding process begins. Our geriatric area, for older or otherwise handicapped dogs, is taken care of then, followed by the cattery. By 7 a.m. the daycare dogs start coming in. We offer all different kinds of day care; regular day care has the dogs outside for 30 or 40 minutes, but all-day play has the dogs outside for nine hours. We give them constant attention to make sure they feel at home. It's a challenge; it's a tremendous amount of work that we do. We do anywhere from eight to 10 hours of laundry a day!

Corrie: My job is mostly making sure everyone is doing what they're supposed to be doing, and making sure the animals are comfortable. We board a lot of different dogs and cats who all need something different, so it's my job to make sure they're getting what they need. We're always trying to better accommodate our clients — we've definitely changed over the last two years or so, constantly trying to make improvements.

Question: How many animals do you have here on an average week? And how many employees?

Dave: Our day care runs anywhere from 30 dogs on an average day to as many as 50. We board maybe 25 on a slow day, but we've housed as many as 150. The place vibrates when we have that many dogs in the house! We have 10 employees working here, including myself.

Corrie: I think it's nice that we don't have a very big staff. We're very particular about who we hire, and making sure that they're as passionate and dedicated as Dave and myself. A small staff also helps the animals get to know us better, so they're more comfortable with us.

Question: What is the secret to Sam & Danni's success?

Dave: We treat their pets as if they were our own. And "good enough" is never good enough for us. We also pride ourselves on being very open with our clients. You can come in at any time during business hours and we will show you our entire facility, front to back, however long it takes for you to feel comfortable. We don't want anyone to feel rushed, we want everyone to feel like they're leaving their pet with family.

Corrie: I think that it's just genuinely caring about the clients and about the animals. I think our clients can tell that. We make it all about the dogs and cats; that's what we're here for. We'll get down on our hands and knees and play with the animals, love up on them, it's totally about them.

Question: OK, here's the hard one: dog person or cat person?

Dave: Very much a dog person.

Corrie: Dog person!

Follow Alyssa Zaczek on Twitter @sctimesalyssa, email her at azaczek@stcloudtimes.com, or call her at 255-8761.

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