November 4, 2008 was not only Election Day but also a day when Colleen Timko’s husband called to tell her that he would be home late due to  a 7am meeting. He said… I think we are all getting raises today.  Approximately 8am Colleen was called by her husband. His voice quivered when he told her that the entire department had been fired/downsized to make way for a stand alone Computer Operations environment. After 14 years of service what was perceived as additional compensation turned out to be notification he was now unemployed. We had never been a part of an economic downturn like this!

Two months later Colleen found out that her department would be sold and her position would end with the New Year. It was clear to Colleen and her husband they had come to a fork in the road, and it was time to make some tuff decisions about their future. With total support from her husband, Colleen called her friend Meranda.  They both agreed now is the time to start their Doggie Day Care.

It was a rough economic time but Colleen and Meranda begun the task of writing a business plan. In 2009 the business plan was finished and the time came to seek financing for the business. Every attempt came back with the same answer, “They were not financing start-up business”, even though they advertised funding for women owned business.  The vision of the Hound Hut was non-traditional more home like and less cookie cutter approach. Because we wanted to offer something “out of the box” franchising was not an option. It took Thomas Edison 6 years to develop the light bulb, we had decided to dig our heals in and not take no for an answer.

After securing only a quarter of our start up funds we opened the doors of The Hound Hut Feb 15, 2010. That day we saw the largest snow fall of the season. Even though our ad in the local community newspaper was buried under more than a foot of snow we had our grand opening. It was a blessing to see how many folks braved the weather and joined in the festivities. It was record snow fall for that month but we opened our doors every day.

Recognizing the challenges that faced us starting a new business we knew we had to develop a plan that would set us apart from our competitors. We maintained our non-traditional vision and also explore new ideas to ensure our success. One thing that sets us apart from other Daycare/Boarding facilities is our service.  Clients love that their dog can come to the Hound Hut and be supervised for 24 hours and also have the opportunity to interact with other dogs while there. There are individual play areas for the dogs depending on size. We do not charge extra to play with a client’s dog. They are welcomed and loved during their entire stay.

The Hound Hut has brought in very loyal clients. They have been instrumental in our success because of their continued business and referrals they send our way.  This is something we will never forget!

This past summer we decided to do a Book of Dogs that showcases many of our loyal clients with fun captions. It was then that Meranda who loves mystery books and movies began writing our new series of short stories from the dog’s point of view. We have just published the first short story called The Hound Hut Herald’s Case of the Missing Tiara. The cast of characters are drawn from our personal experience and it’s so easy to love them. It’s a quick easy read that highlights forgiveness and second chances.

This past summer a destructive storm blew through Gahanna and the Central Ohio leaving destruction and power outages in its wake.  During this crisis The Hound Hut had minimal power and a portable A/C unit allowing us to provide uninterrupted service.   This was a moment of clarity where we shifted to emergency operations to help the community by opening up to take dogs needing temporary shelter. For 24 hours a day Meranda, Colleen, and Hound Hut staff kept dogs cool and comfortable.  Days later when full power had been restored we recognized the need for every pet to find shelter in a disaster.

Research shows there is little help for pet owners in a disaster and this was an area we felt we could give back to the community. The Hound Hut Herald Charities came from that need.  Our first fundraising effort is a partnership with the Gahanna Moose First Lady who hosts a dinner once a month and proceeds to benefit our pet food bank efforts. The Charities hope is to be able to assist the local community and eventually statewide with Emergency Pet Shelter and food bank needs. It is our goal to be able to set up temporary shelter for pets in any area of Ohio that is dealing with a disaster situation.