With Austin’s dog days of summer quickly approaching and pet parents lamenting that a pandemic year of indoor lounging has left their pooches’ coats in need of a whole lot of grooming, one local pet services business is sharing the puppy love with its Austin expansion.
Mud Puppies, a doggie play care, boarding, training, and grooming business owned by local animal lovers — including newly retired longtime local TV meteorologist Jim Spencer — will open its third Austin location soon just south of Parmer Lane on the southbound MoPac frontage road near the Domain.
The third location is part of a larger expansion plan for the Austin company, which began as a small self-service dog wash near Lakeline Mall nearly 20 years ago. Mud Puppies has two other area locations: Mud Puppies Riverside at 2015 E. Riverside Dr., and Mud Puppies 620, at 12233 FM 620 N.
Co-owners Edward Flores and Kelley Struve say having their business based in one of the most dog-friendly cities in the country has helped them sustain through a difficult pandemic year in which they struggled, saying things were touch-and-go for a while. But, they add, with a little creative planning, some government assistance, and a doggedly loyal customer base, Mud Puppies not only survived the pandemic, but business is now roaring.
“The pandemic was painful, as we had to shut our doors a couple times and even temporarily lay off some staff, as people stayed home from work with their dogs and didn’t travel,” Flores says. “But business is increasing daily, and we are now anticipating a rapid surge in the need for our services. We want to be prepared to meet that demand.”
Those are probably good instincts, especially considering two out of every three American homes include a pet, according to industry site Spots.com, and 95 percent of American pet parents view their pets as members of the family. And what’s more, pet-focused DogTime.com named Austin the fourth dog-friendliest city in the country, with so many pooches out and about that the city has earned a paw-sitive reputation as Dogtown USA.
“Our staff loves our dog clients like their own, and that is reflected in the many Best Of awards we have received over the years,” Flores says. “Being able to share our puppy love with even more of Austin is very exciting.”