Gold Ducat Kennels in North Leander has been serving man’s best friend for more than 16 years.
After moving to Leander in 2002, owner Helen Dorrance said she has developed a loyal customer base.
“We have some customers who are on their second or third dog with us,” she said.
Dorrance’s love affair with dogs started when she began breeding and showing golden retrievers. Most kennel names she had seen had a tie-in to their particular breed, so the name Gold Ducat Kennels was born. A ducat is a coin.
“All the good [names] were taken,” Dorrance joked.
While some kennels might seem cramped and crowded, the opposite is true for Dorrance’s business. Sprawling across 8 fenced acres, the facility has eight play pens, live oaks for shade, an air-conditioned building dogs can enter or exit at will—and countless tennis balls for most dogs’ favorite pastime: fetch.
The kennel’s capacity is 40 dogs, but Dorrance said she tries to keep the numbers from reaching capacity.
“We try to ... run it more like a hotel,” she said, adding she will not accept new clients during the holidays to make sure she has room for her regular customers.
Her business focuses on overnight boarding, although she will accept dogs for day care.
“We don’t open until 8 a.m., so most people are on the road to Austin by then,” she said. “Our day care dogs are from people who either go to work later or go somewhere like Fredericksburg for a day.”
Her husband, Scott Bowman, handles the kennel’s maintenance, while manager Megan Smith—who Dorrance called “a better me than me”—deals with day-to-day operations while maintaining her side business, MVP Pet Sitting, with another kennel employee, Katie Funk. Logan Musslewhite also helps maintain the kennel.
In addition to pet sitting, Smith and Funk’s business offers pickup and dropoff services for pets.
“I encourage all my employees to start their own businesses,” Dorrance said.
Dorrance said delegating office work allows her to pursue other passions, such as judging sporting dogs at American Kennel Club competitions—and simply spending time with and walking dogs under her care.
“Some of our customers call us a ‘fat camp’ because their dogs get in shape from all the running,” she said.
Dorrance said she makes sure her customers are well-informed. She hands out welcome bags with lists of dog-related businesses, local restaurants and even health-related articles on dogs.
“We try to disseminate information: vaccination protocol, how to feed your dog,” she said.
The kennel also occasionally hosts a “yappy hour,” when it offers free wine and cheese to its customers in the afternoons.
“We try to cultivate long-term customers,” Dorrance said. “Sometimes we’re not the best fit—it could be breed or something else—so I sometimes tell people, ‘You need a dogsitter to come to your house.’ Also, if they’re driving 20 miles to get here, I’ll refer them to somewhere closer.”
Dorrance said the city has become a “hotbed” for dog-training and other pet facilities.
“So much has changed since I started,” she said.
Gold Ducat Kennels
4205 Arthur Circle, Leander
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-1 p.m., 3-6 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; Sun. noon-1 p.m., 4:30-5:30 p.m. (by appointment only)