By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV
February 5, 2023
Andrew Fitzgerald is the owner/operator of Almost Heaven Bark & Board, located just off the Interstate 64 in Asbury on Alta Heights Road. When asked why he decided to open the business, he said with a grin, “I’ve always gotten along with dogs better than people.”
Across the nation, pet boarding is a growing sector of the economy. According to the US Census Bureau, consumer spending on pet services doubled from 2010 to 2020.
Fitzgerald opened his business on June 1, 2022. His clients come from the Greenbrier Valley, Covington, and Charleston. He has spent years training, raising, and caring for dogs.
“Being that I’m close to the interstate,” he says, “I’ve got quite a few people coming to stay at The Greenbrier or Lewisburg that bring their dogs here, in addition to locals.”
Almost Heaven Bark & Board provides three primary services–boarding, bathing, & doggy daycare.
Yes, you read that right–doggy daycare. Here’s how it works. Fitzgerald will pick your dog up from your house in the morning, your dog goes and plays at the Bark & Board where they have toys and friends galore, and then he will bring your dog back home that evening for $30/day. (You can drop off and pick up your dog for $20/day).
Boarding is $30/night with a 20% discount when you bring 3 or more dogs. The dogs stay in climate-controlled kennels which Fitzgerald built himself. He monitors them with a security system, so he ensures the dog’s condition constantly. He frequently builds campfires for the dogs in the evening, as well.
When Fitzgerald says, “I really love dogs,” he means it. He built a tiny house right beside the kennels where he sleeps. “If I don’t have too many dogs, I just bring ‘em out of the kennels and all in the tiny house with me and we watch TV and sleep.”
The dogs need a good night’s sleep, because whether they are boarding or doing doggy daycare, Fitzgerald keeps them moving. “We try to keep kennel time to a bare minimum,” he says.
Weather permitting, he takes the dogs on a “trail run.” He rides his 4-wheeler through the woods on a 2.5 mile trail, and the dogs follow their leader in brightly-colored safety vests. “They get to be dogs” he says. “They explore and pee on stuff!”
FItzgerald prides himself on paying attention to details. Each day starts at 5am for a bathroom break for the dogs, and it ends at 10pm each night with the last bathroom break of the day. In between, he plays with the dogs, cleans kennels, goes on trail runs, bathes dogs, and transports them.
And he has big plans. “I’m trying to invest more into the business at every opportunity so it’s better for the dogs. They are family.”