By Michele Walters, Vice President SBA Commercial Relationship Manager, Core Bank
As the weekend approached, I kept telling my miniature Schnauzer pups, Rosco and Sammy, “Oh my goodness… you have no idea what is going to happen this weekend!” I could hardly wait for our first official visit to Bar K Dog Bar.
I remember our first chat when Leib and Dave told me their idea to build a space for dogs and humans to co-exist in a fun, relaxing environment. They detailed their plans to create a space where dogs could run free while their pup parents socialized worry-free with friends. I remember thinking, “Why hasn’t this been done before?” And then thinking, “How will I ever get credit behind this?”
As a pup parent, I totally bought into their vision.
They had sketches of a two-story industrial looking building made from shipping containers with indoor and outdoor spaces. Balconies overlooked an expansive park where dogs frolicked and played while pup parents and friends listened to music, grabbed a bite to eat, sipped coffee or a glass of wine and socialized. Their vision made so much sense. Countless times I’ve left functions to get home to my pups, or I’ve said no to something because I had spent too much time away from my little guys. As a pup parent and a workaholic, my pups spend a lot of time alone. Yet every time I come home they greet me at the door as if my arrival is the best thing that has ever happened to them!
Leib and Dave’s vision was simple. They were going to create a community where people and pups would just hang out. Bar K would include a huge park where dogs would run and play. They would block off a small dog park for the little guys and gals, create a puppy play area, and even have a “time out” area for those times when a pup gets just a little too excited. They would hire “Dogtenders” to oversee the pups and ensure everyone is getting along. These Dogtenders would even pick up pup messes left behind. The pups would create their own community, and the people would as well. Pup parents hanging out with pup parents, and folks just looking for a fun, relaxing place to hang out. No pup? No worries… come on down, they have plenty!
Fast forward to this past Sunday when my pup family lost their minds in a really good way. As my husband and I prepared to leave, my pup Rosco went to his kennel. I said “Rosco, come on out… you get to go with us!” He was confused. As we grabbed the leashes, the boys got excited to go but still had no idea what awaited them. We pulled into the parking lot of Bar K. The place felt so alive! So many cars, so many people, so many pups! As we waited to fill out the quick questionnaire and waiver, the boys could hardly contain themselves. They didn’t know what was on the other side of the fence, but they knew they had to get there!
The process was so smooth. Go into the containment area, take the leash off, and open the gate to the park.
They. Were. Gone.
While they hardly leave each other’s side at home, they took off in two different directions. Rosco ran, and ran, and ran some more while Sammy chilled out at the bar and stage area. He got petted… a lot. My shy Sammy would strategically pick a stranger and wait for him or her to pet him. He would patiently sit, get petted, and then as they left he would move on to the next victim. While sitting at a table by the stage, a Terrier mix kept leaving her momma and would jump into the middle of our table. We would pet her until her momma would come and apologize, and politely take her back to her table. This happened at least five times. It was awesome… she was such a sweet girl.
Later in the evening we ventured inside for some food (it was delicious and healthy by the way!) After being inside for a bit, I thought I would venture out to check on my boys… and there was Rosco in the arms of one of the Dogtenders. She had noticed that he’d gotten overheated with all of his running around and she was cooling him down with a wet towel.
Leib and Dave truly thought of everything… even down to the wonderful people they’ve hired. The Dogtender had read the dog tags and was talking to Rosco and Sammy as if they were her own, making sure that Rosco cooled down. As we put Rosco down, he took off after the big dogs so we decided it was time to go on-leash and hang out on the balcony.
It was then that I was taken aback with what Dave and Leib have built.
As I looked down, I saw a woman sitting in an Adirondack chair. She was alone and quietly petting her two pups. I saw two dogs running up and down the wooden play structure very much like kids in a park. I saw a dog find a small area of mud from a low spot in the turf rolling back and forth in complete happiness. I looked down at the folks in the restaurant peacefully eating dinner, and across to the lounge below where people and pups hung out on furniture made for both to relax on while listening to the tunes being sung from the stage nearby. The outdoor bar was very busy with people laughing and chatting while pups meandered around. It brought me back to the balcony where a small group had assembled alongside us where everyone, both humans and pups, were very chill.
Finally, it was time to leave… so sad, but not so sad, because we know we can come again and again. We say our goodbyes, and head to the car with the boys who were a little more tired than they were going in. As my husband and I chatted about our experience, I looked back to find a pup asleep in each corner of the backseat. It was going to be an early night to bed at the Walters’ residence.
I look back on the the entire process that brought Dave, Leib and all of us (in the community) together that night. It was bumpy, it was hard, and when we started this process I remember telling the guys that getting a loan is not a fun process. But I also said that we would get here together. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this place would be so special, but it is. Bar K is something special.