If you had asked Daniel Avila eight years ago if he would own his own dog care business --
"I would have said, 'What!?'" he said.
But what started out as a side job as a dog walker for Avila turned into k9strolls, a South End doggie daycare, walking, grooming and retail service. Avila and his husband, Jim, started the buiness in 2009, and for the last three years, have been running the business out of their home.
"We used to have the dogs in the living room and put blankets down, and it was this big routine," said Avila. "It was great because our neighbors were teachers and doctors and they were gone all day and would come back when teh dogs were gone, so they didn't even know we had 18 dogs there," he said. "We swept and mopped and cleaned -- and it was cleaner then than it is now," he said with a laugh.
The business opened in its Pembroke Street location in November. The bigger space is lending itself to an expanded business; the couple now can offer grooming and retail for dog owners.
"We focus on products made in the USA and I do a lot of research for products made in Massachusetts," Jim Batty said. "We really value small businesses and locals, and locals helped push us along, so we want to do the same thing for others," he said.
Batty said what the couple specalizes in is helping dog owners provide an extension of their own home for their pets when they can't care for them themselves, complete with comfy chairs and a TV.
"The pet population is huge in the South End, and I know how well we treat the dogs, so we hope to be able to provide that continually while the owner is at work or out doing errands," he said. "We focus in on that one-on-one relationship, and it helps so much. A lot of the time dogs haven't been socialized so it helps them a lot, and we've seen a lot of dogs really come out of their shell," he said.
The two will celebrate the business' grand opening on Thursday night at the 83 Pembroke St. store, with a "We Love Locals" party from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the store.