The courtyard is designed to mimic nature, with skylights, potted plants, and changing - but not drastically so - temperatures. Specially made rugs cushion the guest quarters' floors with thick lambswool-like material. Meals, medications, and “special requests” are tracked twice a day.
Karnik Pet Lodge on the Central Avenue Strip is more than a boarding kennel. Some dog owners refer to the business, which also temporarily houses cats, as “Camp Karnik.”
“We don't just put the dogs back there and that's it,” said owner Ray Bauman. “We're like a hotel, and a restaurant, and a doctor's office.”
Started in 1973 and named for two of Mr. Bauman's sled dogs, Kara and Nikki, Karnik Pet Lodges has two locations and offers boarding, day care, and bathing.
A third Toledo-area location is in the works for next year based on a pet and employee-friendly - and closely guarded - design Mr. Bauman is getting patented, he said.
The Sylvania Township location, built in 1985 and expanded six years ago, is the larger of the two and features the courtyard, into which dog runs enter. It can house 160 dogs and 25 cats, which, of course, are kept in another room.
“It's like buildings within a building, so it's easier to maintain,” said Mr. Bauman, who has designed similar facilities in Ohio and Michigan.
Mr. Bauman worked on his new design for eight years and said it will be more cost-effective than the expansive Sylvania Township location.
In May, meanwhile, Mr. Bauman repurchased Karnik Pet Lodge at Fallen Timbers in Monclova Township, which was split from the other kennel after his divorce 10 years ago. The two-kennel business also recently changed its name from Karnik Inn to prevent confusion for potential clients trying to reserve rooms by telephone.
Another recent change was discontinuing grooming services except for bathing because the service was losing money, said Mr. Bauman's wife, Pam, who handles public relations.
One difference between Karnik and some other kennels is that at Karnik owners can see as soon as they walk in where and how their pets are kept, putting them at ease, Mr. Bauman said.
Toledoan Jamie Mitchell said she was nervous about kennels before she started using Karnik more than 20 years ago. But, she said,
“It was like dog heaven - they were just completely catering to the pets. I wouldn't put them anywhere else.”
Karnik helps out pet owners too.
When Miss Mitchell was recovering from surgery years ago, one of her dogs boarded at Karnik had to be euthanized. Karnik, she said, took care of the arrangements for her.
Now Miss Mitchell uses Karnik when she's traveling or needs to board her Shiba Inu, Sidney, overnight while hosting guests.
Pet day care, which Karnik started six years ago and costs $13.40 a day including “play time” with an employee, is becoming a bigger part of the business, Mrs. Bauman said.
“There's a lot of people who don't want to leave them at home when they're at work,” she said. “It's becoming more and more popular.”