Happy Trails Kennel reaching out to local pet owners

The Andersons stand in front of the sign leading to their facility, Happy Trails, on Williams Drive in Georgetown. The business is a short drive north from Liberty Hill up Ronald Reagan Blvd. (Christine Bolaños Photo)

The Andersons stand in front of the sign leading to their facility, Happy Trails, on Williams Drive in Georgetown. The business is a short drive north from Liberty Hill up Ronald Reagan Blvd. (Christine Bolaños Photo)

By Christine Bolaños

Troy and Louise Anderson said when they took over Happy Trails Kennels and Grooming in Georgetown several years ago to offer boarding, grooming, doggy day care and premium pet food, it had a less-than-desirable reputation.

Today, pet owners from as far as South Austin go to the 6915 Williams Drive facility because they know they can leave their furry best friends there without a care in the world.

“Happy Trails has been here for almost 20 years,” explained Louise Anderson. “We bought it in March 2011. When we bought it, it was in really bad shape. It was really run down. It had been through three previous owners.”

The couple added a building to increase the capacity. The barn provided 25 more kennels for a total of 55 kennels at the facility.

“We have around 4-and-a-half acres here,” Mrs. Anderson said. “That’s one of our claims to fame. We’re probably the only facility that we know of where the dogs are let out five times every day. So they get lots of outdoor playtime.”

The large area allows the owners to set up different play yards to fit different pets’ needs.

“So the dogs are segregated by size and personality,” Anderson said. “You’re not going to stick your Chihuahua in with a Lab. We’ve got enough play yards that we can do that and they can have indoor or outdoor playtime.”

All the rooms are climate-controlled as well.

The Andersons have lived in Georgetown for more than 20 years. After their children left home for college they decided to run a local donut shop.

“We ran that for 10 years,” Anderson said. “We actually opened a second location as well in Georgetown.”

They sold the business in 2008 and took a hiatus.

“We knew we wanted to have our own business again and we’ve always been animal people and dog people,” Anderson said. “So when we saw this place for sale we just jumped on the opportunity.”

The couple purchased the property across the street three years ago and made it their home. Their son, Dalton, lives on site and works the security. Their daughter Shannon helps on the administrative side.

“One of the biggest changes we made was for the safety of the animals,” Anderson said. “We’ve installed interior fencing. Being located right on Williams Drive, I know that’s a big concern for people, and we made it a much safer place, a much cleaner place.”

She emphasized the business is completely family-owned and operated.

“It’s the same people that are here every single day,” Anderson said. “They get to know the dogs. Dakota (Gavurnik) and Kyle (Bartz) have been with us since the beginning and they’re like family. We’ve known them forever.

“Connie (Small) has been grooming for 11 years,” she added. “She’s been here ever since the previous owners. It’s like dropping them off at a day care here. They’re not going to have a different teacher every day. They’re going to have the same people watching them.

“They know the dogs. Most of the dogs are comfortable with them,” Anderson said. “So just creating a safe, loving environment.”

Small limits herself to grooming five dogs a day.

“So she spends a lot of time with each dog,” Anderson said. “It’s not an assembly line where you just get in and out.”

Tyler Kessler and Ashlynn Rishton round out the staff of kennel techs.

“Our doggy day care is super popular because it’s $10,” Mrs. Anderson said. “You can drop the dogs off any time the gates open and as long as you pick them up before the gates close it’s $10. So the doggy day care is very, very popular.”

During the summer, Happy Trails offers extended packages with the splash pad and other features.

“Where they can swim as a group and all that other stuff,” she said.

On a day with nice weather, the dogs may get to play outside for as long as an hour at a time. She and her husband love the dogs like family.

“I want people to feel like they would feel when they’re dropping a kid off at a day care,” Mrs. Anderson said. “I want them to feel that it’s a safe loving environment where their pet is going to have a good time.”

Her clientele in large part come from the retirement community of Sun City, Georgetown and Austin, including as far as the south side.

“Fortunately, a lot of people remember Troy and I from the donut shops,” she said. “That kind of opened the trust factor for them to try this place again, because as I said, it did not have a very good reputation prior to us purchasing it.”

Clientele represent seniors, families and young working people. Happy Trails staff is especially likely to service clientele from wider areas during the busy holiday seasons.

“We see people come in all the way from south Austin, north Austin, Pflugerville, Taylor and Hutto,” she said. “That’s when they’re seeking out especially they want the dogs to be in a place that has open land. They don’t want them crated and in a building and all that.”

She hopes Liberty Hill pet owners will come check out Happy Trails as well.

Time and time again, the Andersons’ passion for dogs is confirmed through the gratitude of their clients.

“When people come in or send us a card or call us to say because they feel so comfortable with us, because they trust the facility, because they think Tyler or Dakota have been so gentle and loving and caring with their pets,” Anderson said. “They are happy to be coming in here. We have several people that are just grateful for the services that we offer because a lot of times, day care, if you have to do it five times a week, can get extremely expensive.

“We’ve had people where their dogs have been senior dogs,” she added. “A lot of elderly people from Sun City and the dogs are getting on in years and they’re very uncomfortable leaving them. They know Connie is still going to be so patient and gentle and calm with them. They trust the way the guys are going to handle the dogs.”

The Andersons love Georgetown and the surrounding area investing themselves in their businesses, church and community.

Happy Trails works with Georgetown Animal Outreach, a local nonprofit rescue shelter, by providing animals shelter for indefinite periods of time until they find forever homes. Some of those pets have spent years with the Andersons and are now part of the family.

She hopes to begin hosting pet vaccinations, animal industry vendors and the like as early as March.

To learn more, visit www.happytrailskennelsandgrooming.com.