By Nicole Brodzik
Fifty years ago, Marilyn Swanson was a mother of two boys under the age of five, and was looking for a job.
With parenting her sons becoming full time work, she and her husband decided to become dog breeders instead. Throughout the years, that business developed into a pet boarding and care facility near Little Long Lake in Minnetrista that they called Oak Ridge Pet Boarding and Daycare.
“At first we were breeding German Shepherds, then Labrador Retrievers and then when I got older, Norwich Terriers,” Marilyn Swanson said. “Later, we got into pet care. I would help teach obedience classes for Westonka Community Education and show dogs in obedience and confirmation classes for 30 years.”
Three years ago, Marilyn Swanson handed the business off to her daughter-in-law, Tracy Swanson, and while they aren’t breeding puppies at Oak Ridge anymore, the values Marilyn Swanson founded the business on have remained the same.
“You always put dogs first,” Marilyn Swanson said. “Well, God first, then dogs.”
Oak Ridge Pet Boarding and Daycare is tucked away in the winding roads of rural Minnetrista, but they have managed to stay in public view through community involvement.
“Because we’re so out of the way, we like to do the parades and be a part of the community Ed classes,” Tracey Swanson said. “The community ed classes have been really good to us and helped get our name out there.”
Tracy Swanson said they have space for up to 50 dogs at the facility and that their main focus is on individual attention that dogs can’t get at bigger, more mainstream facilities.
“Every dog gets time in the yard on their own with a member of our staff,” Tracy Swanson said. “We have lots of toys and can give them that personal attention that other boarding places can’t.”
She said Oak Ridge puts specific focus on taking care of dogs who don’t do well in group situations, which has drawn customers back year after year and generation after generation.
“We have generations of customers and of dogs that keep coming back,” Marilyn Swanson said. “We love being able to have customers who have had trouble finding a place for their pets and being able to take of people’s families.”
To celebrate their 50 years in the community, Oak Ridge Pet Boarding and Daycare is hosting an open house on June 24. The event will feature tours of the facility, giveaways and treats for the furry participants. They are also accepting pet food donations for WeCAN’s Pet Food Assistance Program. Tracy Swanson said it’s a cause that’s near to her heart.
“A lot of people are going to the pet store to get food for their animals, and then have to turn around and go to the food shelf to feed themselves,” she said. “We want to help out animals, any way we can.”
For more information on the Oak Ridge Pet Boarding and Daycare services, visit https://oakridgepetboarding.com/