Life in our Foothills March 2023 – Noble Dog Lodge – Dog Boarding on an Epic Scale
Published 2:52 pm Thursday, March 30, 2023
When people say, “That place is going to the dogs,” they aren’t usually paying a compliment. But at Noble Dog Lodge in Columbus…this place is all about dogs and the dogs are clamoring to go there. Dogs are the kings and queens of this facility which indeed resembles a luxury lodge rather than what one might think of as a boarding kennel.
Noble Dog Lodge is the brainchild of Jen Hanna who along with business partner, Alex Goins, developed their first endeavor in the dog care business with Noble Dog Hotel in downtown Greenville. That location is bursting at the seams with a waiting list to get in. Based on that success, they started looking for a new location for a possible expansion. Jen had been bringing her dogs to Dr. Angel Mitchell at Bonnie Brae Veterinary Hospital for years. It was Angel who mentioned the adjacent property that was formerly the equine hospital division of Bonnie Brae. Dr. Mitchell suggested maybe that could be the perfect spot. In 2021 that became a reality with the opening of Noble Dog Lodge.
Jen is an achiever. After all, she played golf for Furman University and was elected to their Athletics Hall of Fame. From Furman, she played professionally on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour. She was lured back to Furman to become a golf coach after retiring from her touring career. She was used to winning or at least giving a project her best. It’s no surprise that the Greenville location is a sought-after haven for canines and the Columbus location is making its name in the dog care niche.
The original idea to start a kennel came from her own desire to have a safe and comfortable space to board her dogs when she traveled, which was considerable – especially during her golfing career. Jen has five dogs of her own and they are family. Jen knew she wanted to create a place that offered transparency, 24-hour care, and an incredible staff who are passionate about caring for the dogs entrusted to them.
To the casual observer, the façade looks like the old equine hospital that it once was. But a walk inside changes one’s perspective. The lobby is attractive with one wall covered in portraits of dogs and dogs with their owners including several employees with their best fur friends. There’s a small retail section including some Noble Dog Lodge swag. But it’s only after you enter the door into the heart of the operation that you see how this place starts to look more like a lodge or a resort.
The kennels are aptly named suites and they currently have 35 of them. They range from “Paddock Luxury Suites” with 36 square feet of space up to the “Pawsidential Grand Prix Suite” with 180 square feet of space. The largest suites have their own access to a private outdoor run, but all dogs get many opportunities for daily playtime in one of several indoor and outdoor play spaces. Some of the suites even have TVs so they (the dogs) can watch their favorite programs. One thing common to all suites is a private webcam so that anxious pet parents can check in on their dogs with a private login. Jen jokes that more than one vacation has been ruined for pet parents because they were so excited to see their dogs enjoying the good life that they didn’t think about their own. There are also webcams anyone can view the various indoor and outdoor play areas. But parents don’t have to stay tuned to the webcam because they know the staff is personally tuned into the dogs under their care. In fact, parents of boarders get a report card by text with a photo of their dog each day.
Like most kennels, there is an application process that takes place before you bring your dog in for the first visit. The staff assesses the dog’s temperament to see if it will be a good fit for group play or will he or she best be suited for individual playtime with a staff member. All dogs must be up to date on vaccinations. All kennels in North Carolina are licensed by the Department of Agriculture and are inspected to make sure the facility is clean, dogs are well cared for, and that all health procedures are followed. Noble Dog Lodge has a kitchen that resembles that of a small restaurant complete with a commercial microwave, convection oven, and dishwasher. And while the kitchen does prepare the dog’s normal food from home, parents can order up specialty desserts, nighttime snacks, and other treats. On Thanksgiving, the staff served a complete Thanksgiving dinner to their boarders with their parents’ permission. At Christmas, they all got a special treat.
It takes a lot of dedicated staff to run a facility like Noble Dog Lodge. Jen says it was tough getting the staff she needed at the beginning because they were just coming off the worst of Covid when businesses everywhere were struggling to staff their operations. But things are humming along now. Jen spends her time between the Columbus and Greenville facilities knowing that all the dogs in their care are getting the best care possible. Trabert Allen and Natylee Mullinax are the general managers and have been with the company since it started. In all, eighteen people work at Noble Dog Lodge. Depending on the current capacity there might be three or four staff members during the morning shift and another three or four during the afternoon and early evening shifts. There’s also an overnight team member who is up checking on dogs all night. It’s comforting to know that someone is keeping an eye out on your dog even while you sleep. Noble Dog Lodge works with Bonnie Brae Veterinary Hospital if there is a medical need.
Noble Dog Lodge offers more than just boarding. They have a popular daycare program and clients can choose options as to the number of hours of care needed instead of having to pay for an entire day. Of course, most dogs don’t want to leave so you might as well plan for a whole day. The facility has professional groomers on staff for all sizes and types of dogs. They also provide training services.
One thing they don’t have is boarding for cats. I asked Jen about this, and she said the dogs voted, and they voted “no” to cats. A couple of dogs pointed to the sign and reminded her that the word “cat” does not appear anywhere.
In the end, Jen says, “We do have something special here, but it’s more than just the suites and the cameras…it’s the team and finding the right people and encouraging them and inspiring them to believe in the mission that we have. We want to provide the best care you can find.”
Noble Dog Lodge is located at 157 Shuford Road, Columbus. 828/ 802-1053.
Email: wag@NobleDogLodge.com. Web: https://www.nobledoglodge.com/
They are open 7 days a week.
There are Other Local Options:
There are two other major boarding and daycare facilities in Polk County.
Dogwood Farm Kennels – Where Dogs Are Family
Dogwood Farm Kennels is where my dogs have gone for years. Owners are Josh and Astrid Goldstein who live right on the property. They are located at 171 Sassy Lane in Columbus (off of Chesnee Road). Dogwood Farm Kennels offers boarding, daycare, and grooming. 828/ 216-6211. Email: email@example.com. Web: https://www.dfkennels.com/. Founded in 2009.
Susie Q Boarding – A Boutique Dog Boarding Experience
Susie Q Boarding is the newest facility to open in Polk County and offers boarding only. Boarders do get ample playtime. It is owned by Susan Collins and was founded in 2022. They are located at 727 Tanner Road, Rutherfordton (They are in Polk County off of Chesnee Road.) Susan lives on the property and offers personal attention to each dog. She does offer a free bath for dogs who board four nights or more.