Fun Fur Pets owner Eve Molzhon expanding into Holmen
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We bring you news from the business community. From startups to experienced problem solvers, you’ll get in-depth insight on the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Greater La Crosse. Our show is a collaboration between WIZMNews.com and BizNews Greater La Crosse ( GreaterLaCrosse.media ).
Eve Molzhon’s path to being a business owner.
How helping starting working with service dogs led to a doggy daycare.
Bad customer service leads to Fun Fur Pets
What is Possum Pets Country Club and how will it differ from Fun for Pets?
More enrichment style doggy daycare & what that means.
Dog school trains the dog while you drop them off.
Giving back to the community is something they do often.
What are some of the most common reasons why dogs come into the program?
Eve Molzohn 0:01
That love for helping them is what makes me want to get up at 5:30 every morning and come into work
Vicki Markussen 0:07
and be around a lot of dogs that are not yours.
Eve Molzohn 0:10
I thoroughly enjoy going to work. I don’t mind cleaning up the pee in the poop because the doggy kisses make up for it.
Vicki Markussen 0:18
Welcome to BizCast Greater La Crosse, a weekly podcast from BizNews. We bring you the news coming from the business community. I am your host and founder Vicki Markussen. And joining me is Eve Molzhon. She is the owner of Fun for Pets, which is located on Green Bay Street. You have big news, which we’ll get to, but essentially Fun for Pets is like a doggy daycare, you have boarding there. We’ll talk about some of the other things, your dog academy, that you have there. But let’s start with the path because it’s very interesting because I’ve known you in many roles. So talk about how you became a business owner.
Eve Molzohn 0:59
Well, it started way back in the day. So I had gotten onto my town board in the town of Hamilton. And the treasurer there said, Hey, you really like dogs, right? And I’m like, Yeah, I like dogs. So we had some hunting hounds. And I had a dalmatian at the time. And she said, I have an organization that works with service dogs that needs board members. And I’m like, Okay, well, I’m kind of busy right now. But let me know when their next meeting is and oh, it’s tomorrow. Okay, busy tomorrow, let me know when the next one is. She calls me two days later. And she goes, I have great news. And I have bad news which one you want? First? I said, Well, what’s the great news? I talked so highly of you. They voted you in as president. I said, Oh, my goodness, what’s the bad news? Right. And I’m like, That’s the good news. So what’s the bad news? She goes, they only have $115 in their bank account, and they’re struggling. And I’m like, Okay, that would have been the good news to me, because I can fundraise till I’m blue in the face. I don’t have time to sit on another committee. I was already on six at the time, and running my own printing business. So yeah. That started me on the path of learning about service dogs and fostering service dogs and training service dogs. And then I took my SIR service dog one day a week, he went to a dog daycare. And yeah, one day to just be a dog and have a great time. And I was on my way to get the dog. And there was a car accident on highway 16. And I called the facility and said, Hey, I’m gonna be late. And they reminded me of their $5 a minute late fee. Oh, and I said, Oh, okay. But I’m not, you know, I’m common. And I pulled into the parking lot along with five other people, I let everybody else get their dog and I got my dog Max. And I said, How many days do I have left on my pass? And they said one and I said, Okay, well, you can donate that because I won’t be back. She was, well, I didn’t charge you. And I said, No, but you threatened me. And I just thought, oh my gosh, like customer service is super important. And allowing my dog to have a great time was super important. And so I just got the idea of how can I make this happen? On my own. So started looking to the rules and regulations. And in the meantime, my service dog would go to my sister’s house along with two other service dogs and we would have UW all students come over and give them their own private doggy daycare days. And my sister’s yard was atrocious because it was beat up by a bunch of dogs. But we did a lot of homework. And we’re actually we’re trying to figure out how we could do a dog daycare as a way to sustain the service dog organization was the original thought process. That would have been a huge undertaking, because as a nonprofit, trying to get loans and all of that. So five years later, I took the leap and I said I’m going to do this. And then the service dog organization can just function within my facility that made the most sense. And so fun for pets came about. In literally 48 hours. I made the decision. I’d been looking at properties. I pulled the trigger, sent the email, I want the lease. I took out 12 Credit cards in one night. Because I was unemployed and wouldn’t be able to get a loan and came up with a name. And a game plan. Took me 72 days and seven college kids and we opened fund for pets.
Vicki Markussen 4:38
Wow. self funded
Eve Molzohn 4:41
Self funded and I paid all the credit card debt off the first year.
Vicki Markussen 4:44
Good for you. So you have that business model out there. And we were just talking because now you are expanding into Hold on. You want to talk about that?
Eve Molzohn 4:53
Yeah, so the pandemic has its pros and cons con was nobody Traveling in my importing business was null and void. The Pro everybody wouldn’t got a dog or a cat, or a potbelly pig or a ferret. 73% of Americans now own a pet. Wow. So everybody who got a pet because they were at home, where they got a pet for their pet, because they were at home, that’s now being called back to an office or now has to travel for work. So those animals need care. And although fun for pets is a 15,000 square foot facility, we are maxed for our capacity. We went through some trials and tribulations as COVID was ending, where we couldn’t accommodate, and we were having compassion fatigue, saying no to people. And that weighed heavily on us, you know, when someone says, oh, I need to bring my dog What does you know, I can’t leave them in a kennel for 10 hours or 12 hours or what have you. And we would feel guilty, and we would say yes, and then you know, we’re running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to make all the dogs happy. It just got to be too much. And so, second location, to hopefully accommodate all the people who love their pets want to see their pets happy and healthy. And that’s the plan for Pawsome Pets Country Club.
Vicki Markussen 6:25
And where will it when does it open? Where will it be?
Eve Molzohn 6:28
So it is off of Circle Drive. So take OT and we’re right behind McDonald’s opening date is March 13.
Vicki Markussen 6:36
And how will this be different than Fun for Pets.
Eve Molzohn 6:39
So Fun for Pets, you can just pay for a day of daycare, or you can buy a pass to come to daycare. Our Country Club is membership based. So you will purchase a membership based on the number of days you want to bring your dog, and then that you’ll pay as a monthly fee versus every time your dog comes to visit. [It’s] Country Club style, right you pay a membership fee. So we’re kind of mimicking that. It is different in the sense of it is more enrichment based, which is the way the industry is going. So we’re going to work on some group sits and some group downs and some door control so weights, there’s going to be more activity based, it is not as big as Fun For Pets. So the number of dogs that we’ll be able to accommodate will be a smaller number. Somewhere between 65 and 70. One thing that’s the same is our safety model of dividing dogs based on size and play-style. So six different playgroups your chihuahuas will not be playing with the Great Danes, the corgis will not be in with the boxers. So everybody is taken into consideration based on their size and their play-style. So helps along Long lines with safety and security of the dogs is keeping them with with other dogs that they fit well with. So some similarities, but yeah, lots of differences. Our boarding area will start out with select services to begin with, and then as our staffers are more comfortable, and we kind of see what our members are looking for, we plan on expanding more services in the future. But the integral part of sending your dog home, not just tired, but mentally stimulated is really the key thing that we’re focusing on at the country club. There’s going to be scent games some days, we might do a pajama party. So yeah, we plan on on really doing a lot more enrichment style activities at the country club and kind of taking it to a daycare 2.0 so to speak.
Vicki Markussen 8:36
You are very creative entrepreneur. So this isn’t just like even at Fun For Pets, you offer other services there you want to talk about not just what you have there, but what you started during the pandemic.
Eve Molzohn 8:49
We dog boarding, but we also do cats ferrets parrots, pot bellied pigs. That’s a unique thing. We have a gentleman that comes up from Chicago a couple times a year and has us watches two ferrets. We have a lady from Winona that brings us her ferrets. So we like the more exotic animals. We just watched the Senegal parrot last week. So understanding all species of animals, obviously we have limitations. And then yes, so during COVID When we sat there with 120 Empty sweets because nobody could travel and it was trying to decide do we remove the sweets and make more daycare? But daycare wasn’t completely up to speed either? Because people were at home. That was when we started hearing people call us and go, Hey, I just took my dog for a walk and he behaved so badly. Was he like that? A daycare? One Oh no, we didn’t have him on a leash. He was in a room with his friends you know? So we transitioned and create a dog school. Dog School is where you drop your dog off either Tuesday, Thursday or Wednesday, Friday, just like you would drop your kid off at school. And we work on basic obedience because that is the foundation of everything. Right, when you’re in elementary school you learn to read, right? We start with the basics. And then we also work on leash reactivity, we can work on counter surfing, we can work on off leash free calls, group play activity. So, dog school really transitioned us into looking at more of that enrichment based almost style of daycare. But we broke it down into a training basics. So it has really gone well to the point that I even have another dog School up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, called Dog School of Blaine. And so the dog school concept is great, because it still gives people two days away from their pet, right, their pet is going out into the world and learning new things, and experiencing new things. And they can pick their pet up at night and then bring them home. You know, that’s the joy of having a pet is being home with them and having that time with them. So Dog School is a great way to get the training in while still having your pet with you at night.
Vicki Markussen 10:58
So people with with pets, dogs, particularly that have just little quirks that they’d like to have worked out, can drop them off and have training happening, pick them up, and then you have to train the owners, right?
Eve Molzohn 11:11
Yeah, so we utilize technology. So we have a private Facebook group, that people get to see the training videos that we create for them and assign them their homework. And what’s great about using the videos is that everybody in the household can watch them. You know, so many times when you attend a training class, oh, I can go to class, but my spouse can’t or, you know, I really need my kids to be on board with this too, but they have activities or whatnot. So trying to find a time where you can get the whole household together is extremely difficult. So this way, everybody can watch the videos, we use a private Facebook group. So that way we can have open communication with the pet parents and really say okay, now I want Susie, Johnny and Lindsay to all take five treats and everybody go hide in a different room in their house and then call the dog and that’s how we’re working on common call. You know, so this way it allows us to to really have almost one on one communication with the family without having to do it in person.
Vicki Markussen 12:07
One of the things that I I know a lot of people love are your commercials you have Eleanor your daughter in the commercials everybody knows about her. Yes, she’s famous she is and it’s it’s that family based, right? You’re local, you still have passion for a lot of causes in the community. And you’re still active, particularly with giving to dog causes. Right? Want to talk about how you give?
Eve Molzohn 12:35
Yeah, well, you mentioned local, I mean, I’m born and raised in La Crosse lived here my entire life, which is a long time now that I think about my age. But yeah, you know, in very family based a lot of people see my daughter Eleanor working the front desk, or they’ll see her in the cat room. She loves to do the cat one on one playtime. So those are huge passion projects for us is just making ourselves part of the community. And yeah, giving back to the community is is something that we do as often as we possibly can. So we get a lot of requests to donate to fundraisers and we go the untraditional route. So we donate usually a dog bed with different toys and bones are a cat bed with different items on it. So we like to give things that even if someone you know maybe doesn’t have a pet directly they can give it to somebody else they know or they can use it as a present for their grand doggie or grand kitty or something along those lines or their neighbor. But yeah, so we donate not just to the animal causes almost every local animal group we have some affiliation with New Leash on Life, Trempealeaau County Animal Shelter, Jackson County Animal Shelter, Chasing Daylight, Monroe County Shelter, La Crosse Animal Shelter, La Crescent. But we we expand out even further. You know, we give to baseball groups we give to fire departments, Irish fest, Mardi Gras festival. So you know, we really try and make sure that entities that could use a little boost in raising funds that we can do our small part to help them out.
Vicki Markussen 14:11
That’s living out your values, what makes you passionate about what you do.
Eve Molzohn 14:15
So during the pandemic, we had a program that we had created shortly before called Second Chance to Shine. And the program is set up where we take in up to 14 dogs from shelters and rescues across the United States. We can’t even say locally there. We would get beagles from San Diego Beagle rescue from the pandemic hit. We didn’t have the revenue to sustain the program. So we made it a 501 (c)3, receive contributions from individuals and entities to help us keep the program going. And the program keeps my passion going in the sense of we’re taking dogs that need need extra training in order to become well rounded adoptable pets. So sometimes it’s stranger danger. Sometimes the dog was starved, so they think everything should go in their mouths. Sometimes it’s just the dog has no manners doesn’t know how to walk on a leash doesn’t know how to be a dog because they live their life on a chain. So playing fetch and having toys is just such a scary experience for them. And that’s something that we really wanted to focus on helping these animals live a loving life in someone’s home. And so that’s, that’s our why, at Fun for pets, all of our staff thoroughly enjoy working with those dogs and watching them blossom day after day, week after week. Most of those animals do stay with us for several months at a time, the trauma that they had doesn’t end overnight, and you can’t fix it with love. It has to be recreating scenarios in a positive manner. And so that that love for helping them is what makes me want to get up at 5:30 every morning and come into work.
Vicki Markussen 16:03
And be around a lot of dogs that are not yours. Correct?
Eve Molzohn 16:06
Yes. When people ask how many dogs do you own? I’m like only two, only two. But I get to play with, you know, 100 of them every day. So I thoroughly enjoy going to work. I don’t mind cleaning up the pee in the poop because the doggy kisses make up for it.
Vicki Markussen 16:19
Yes, I remember, you had some puppies in. And of course, everybody said you can bring puppies with you wherever you go. So people love the puppies.
Eve Molzohn 16:28
People love the puppies. Yeah, yeah, we’ve, we’ve taken in a few pregnant dogs into our program. That same thing came from bad situations. And, and it’s always an experience. And I think the other thing, when you’re working with animals, you live in the moment, you know, the dog can fall off a futon and a second laters like, Yep, cool. Let’s go. You know, they live in the moment. They don’t worry about what happened yesterday. And they’re not worried about what’s going on tomorrow. It’s where am I at right here right now. And that lesson is something that I try and work on every day. And so they remind me of that, you know, dog jumps up on me and I go Ouch. And then he’s like, Oh, Hello, happy to see you. Right like, you know, their intentions are so pure and so honest, that it makes it comical and enjoyable.
Vicki Markussen 17:21
You’re listening to Eve Molzhon. She is the owner of Fun For Pets opening up your new place called again …
Eve Molzohn 17:27
Possum pets Country Club
Vicki Markussen 17:29
Pawesome Pet Country Club up in Holmen. This is BizNews – BizCast — news coming out of the business community. We’ll catch you next time.