When she was looking to make a career change, taking care of dogs was a natural fit for Cheryl Rose.

“I am the person who will pull over on the side of the road any time there’s [a stray] animal,” Rose said.

She and her husband, Mike, decided to open a dog day care business and consulted with DeDe Lally, the owner of Pups & Pals Pet Lounge in Southwest Austin, about how to operate a doggie day care.

“I also wanted to make sure that we were offering something that would be a little bit unique and not necessarily the same thing that everybody else offered,” Rose said.

The Roses opened Little Kahunas Pet Resort in December 2018. The tropical-themed business caters on boarding and day care for smaller dogs that are less than 40 pounds. Instead of traditional crates, the Roses had custom cabanas built for their business in two large sizes. Larger cabanas allow for family dogs to stay together, Rose said.

“We treat them like how big dogs are treated,” she said.

On a dog’s first visit, the Roses will perform an assessment to make sure the indoor pet resort is the right fit for a dog.

“Their play style is what’s important,” Rose said. “What we’re trying to get is dogs who play similarly because that makes the experience good for everybody, and no [dog] is intimidated.”

Rose said doggie day care is different than going to a dog park because a day care facility offers a controlled environment. Little Kahunas creates play groups based on how the dogs play together.

“We’ve had some medium-sized and small ones that have completely come out of their shell and blossomed after being here for a little while,” Mike said.

Their business has been well-received, and the Roses said they credit that to the city’s love for dogs and how people now treat their pets like family.

“The social dog experience in Austin is pretty prevalent,” Rose said. “There’s a lot of cities where this is not a common thing—dog day care. In Austin people are going out with their dogs, taking their dogs places, and hanging out with other dogs is a pretty common thing. That’s a lot of the parents we get.”

Milwood resident Virginia Suddath takes her 2-year-old cavapoo, Bear, to Little Kahunas twice a week. She said she likes that the location is convenient, affordable and offers more playtime for smaller dogs.

“It is very helpful for him to get all his energy out,” she said. “He loves all other dogs and people.”

Pampered pooches

Little Kahunas Pet Resort offers 72 cabanas for a total capacity of 96 dogs. Co-owner Cheryl Rose said on average there are 24 dogs per day for day care.

  • Day care: Pet parents can drop off their pups for the day from 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Staffers rotate between one hour of play for socialization and one hour for rest. The cost is $28 per day, or parents can purchase a membership for $200 that includes eight visits.

  • Boarding: Pups can stay overnight for $48, which includes daytime socialization during day care. Rose said a staffer does not stay overnight, but this is to ensure dogs are not too distracted to sleep. The facility has a security and camera system.

Little Kahunas Pet Resort

12196 N. MoPac, Austin

512-966-0961 | www.littlekahunaspetresort.com

Hours: daily 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.