Terri Lemmon’s business, Playful Pastures Pet Services, has created a fun and safe haven for dogs in the Chadron area.
Omaha, Nebraska – A lifelong love for animals kindled by growing up on a ranch has turned into Playful Pastures Pet Services, LLC, a thriving dog daycare business three miles outside of Chadron owned by Terri Lemmon.
Lemmon fondly recalls her youth on a 10,000-acre ranch managed by her father, Edward Weigel, in Holt County. “In addition to the livestock, Dad had lots of dogs,” Lemmon says.
Lemmon channeled her childhood experiences into her college studies, first taking animal science classes at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, then at Chadron State College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness. She went on to work at Chadron State College as a student financials accountant and later for Nebraska Extension in the Dawes County 4-H Program.
“What I learned in business management and accounting, and my experiences and background, really helped me become successful now,” Lemmon says.
In November 2017, Lemmon sought the guidance of the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) office in Chadron, where she worked with Administrator Gary Dusek and Office Assistant Jennifer Wittrock.
“We went over how to complete a business plan and financials, and provided her with sample business plans, a business plan template, and financial worksheets,” Dusek says. “We also conducted some research on the pet care industry. Lastly, we went over various financing options that were available to her.”
Initially, Lemmon was interested in purchasing a property outside of Chadron to house her dog daycare business. Previously a storage facility and boarding kennel, Lemmon says the property ultimately proved to be a poor fit because of the extent of work it required. She instead decided to renovate a pole barn on her own property outside of Chadron, adding the kennels and other fixtures she needed for her new business.
In March 2018, Lemmon opened Playful Pastures Pet Services, and the area’s dogs have been wagging their tails ever since.
“I’m not far from town, so accessibility isn’t an issue, and I offer pickup and drop off for my clients,” Lemmon says. “With the space we have, noise isn’t a factor like it might be in town, and the dogs have so much freedom to run and play. It’s like a country club for dogs.”
Her husband, Joel, leases the surrounding property, where he puts up hay, tends to cattle and helps Terri when she needs an extra pair of hands. She also has two part-time employees who help with picking up and dropping off the dogs, as well as other tasks around the daycare.
Lemmon says her strong work ethic and determination have made a difference in starting and building her business. “The banks would not take a chance on me,” she says. “They didn’t realize I wouldn’t have taken this step if I didn’t believe it would work. I used my retirement fund to start up, and I paid as I went along so I wouldn’t incur a lot of debt. Now, any bank in town would loan me money.”
Her days are long, beginning at 5:30 a.m. as she travels through town picking up clients’ dogs, and continuing until she finishes her paperwork in the evenings. While she aims for 20 to 30 dogs to care for each day, she has had as many as 52. That is in addition to her five dogs, who act as social directors to help new dogs get acclimated to the place.
While some clients drop off and pick up their own dogs, others are ferried to the daycare via a 15-passenger van and a second smaller van Lemmon and her part-timers use.
She says the dogs and their owners appreciate the personalized attention she gives the animals. “When they get dropped off to play, the dogs are so excited,” she says. “I’ve had some that don’t want to go home.”
She is working to expand her services including transforming her husband’s workshop area of the barn into a grooming area and office. And, she would love to be able to hire more staff so boarding services could again be offered. “I rarely get to sit down during the day,” she says, smiling. “When I do, the dogs are all either in my lap or in my face.”
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The Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) helps Nebraska businesses start, grow and develop, by strengthening Nebraska businesses for a healthy economy and prosperous communities. NBDC is a University of Nebraska at Omaha center that provides confidential consulting business development services across Nebraska to entrepreneurs and business owners for the life cycle of their business. NBDC partners with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Wayne State College, and Chadron State College to deliver its services statewide. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the U.S. Department of Commerce (EDA), and other federal, state and private organizations support NBDC. Visit nbdc.unomaha.edu for more information.
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