There is an old saying that goes “find a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” One Lakewood woman has taken that advice to heart, turning her passion for animals into a successful business. Although having lived in Lakewood for only a few years, Whitney Callahan has had a quite an impact on the community. In addition to helping lead the effort to build the local dog park, she has taken a leadership role in helping the Lakewood Animal Shelter.
Like many people, Whitney developed her love for animals at an early age. Her mother instilled a respect for animals, and together they took in stray animals. They also raised and showed champion Chocolate Labradors. She was taught by breeders and veterinarians how to assist the mother dogs giving birth, and whelped over 40 puppies in five years. She would sleep in the same room with the mother and her puppies for the first week, making sure that no puppy was ever accidentally rolled onto and that the puppies stayed healthy.
Originally from the east coast, Whitney moved here after a long distance relationship with her husband, Mark. The couple lived in the Warehouse District for a few years, and then began looking for a house. They fell in love with Lakewood because of its homes with big front porches and tree-lined streets. “It seemed like a friendly, diverse neighborhood where we could start our new family.” says Whitney.
She quickly made an impact on our city, working as one of three co-chairs, along with Shelley Gould-Burgess and Brittany O’Connor, to build the Lakewood Dog Park. The dog park effort began in early 2002, and culminated with the park’s opening in June 2003. Throughout the process, Whitney spent hundreds of hours conducting research, raising money and meeting with city officials.
For the past two years, Whitney has served as Vice President of CCLAS, Citizen’s Committee for the Lakewood Animal Shelter. She has focused on generating ideas for fundraisers, such as the annual “The Hair of the Dog Happy Hour and Silent Auction” which will be held next spring.
Life took an unexpected turn in the summer of 2003 when she was laid-off from her job as a consultant with A.T. Kearney. Due to the economic downturn, the company decided to close its Cleveland office. She was asked to relocate, but her husband was in the middle of his graduate school education at Case Western Reserve University and they did not want to leave the area. “My husband, Mark, asked me what my dream job would be and all I could think of was a place where I could take my dog to work with me everyday.”
It was then that the idea for “Inn the Doghouse”, her very own doggy day-care and boarding business, was born. She got together with friend and fellow dog park volunteer, Pete Spanos, to create a dog daycare business where dogs could be boarded on site while allowing them playtime during the day. In addition, they envisioned on-site grooming and an animal-friendly cat boarding room. After six months of planning the business opened on October 22, 2003. Despite long hours and the risks that come with any new business, Whitney is thrilled. “It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” she says, “I love my job, I love seeing my dog friends, and Dublin, her Bullmastiff, couldn’t be happier”.
After two years, business is good. In fact, ITD expanded in September, when it acquired additional space to sublease to North Coast Dogs, the highly respected dog training school. The businesses are exploring the opportunities to offer programs such as “train while boarding” at the facility. Inn The Doghouse is open from 7am-7pm Monday-Friday for daycare and weekend hours are available for pick-up and drop-off of boarding dogs.
For more information please visit www.innthedoghouse.com or call (216) 651-0873.