“My dog taught me everything I need to know” reads a sign in Robin Fox’s office, where three dogs make themselves at home while she works. These words guided Fox to establish A Fox & Hounds pet care nearly nine years ago, after being laid off from her job in the corporate world.
“The pet care business had been an idea in the back of my mind since 9/11,” says Fox. “I had some pet care education, had pets of my own and volunteered at various animal shelters. After I was laid off in 2009, I did a solid year of research to confirm that there was a need for this kind of service in the area. And although I opened my business during a recession, Hingham (her first location) is such a close community that my business grew by word of mouth.”
Today, the business has grown to 30 employees among three locations. A Fox & Hounds pet care provides daycare and boarding for about 2,000 dogs a year. The business is in high demand and there is a waitlist for new clients.
In 2016, Fox opened her second facility, A Fox & Hounds Petit, at 119 Washington St. in Norwell, which offers daycare for small dogs who can be overwhelmed by larger dogs or who prefer being around their smaller peers. Her third venture, A Fox & Hounds Harborside in Hingham opened in July. The Harborside location offers puppy socialization and enrichment and customized training for adult dogs.
The need for dog training was a natural outgrowth of the daycare service. Good behavior skills are fostered young, and contrary to popular belief, old dogs can learn new tricks. The goal is to create better behaved, socially adaptable dogs, which makes them better companions to their owners.
“Puppies will be exposed to different stimuli – sights like people wearing hats and sunglasses; sounds of thunder and ringing doorbells, and textures on their paws – sand, stones and water,” says Fox. “It’s designed to expose the puppy to everyday situations, so they become a well-balanced and confident companion.”
Trainers also introduce young puppies to leashes, commands and train against biting, barking and chewing behaviors. And there’s always plenty of playtime. The six-week day training packages for adult dogs include weekly private training sessions with the dog owner and trainer. Sessions focus on foundational obedience commands and basic problem solving leading up to off-leash obedience.
Fox’s business is truly a labor of love but like any workplace, it has its challenges. “People think we play with puppies all day,” she says with a laugh. “Though, it can be medicinal because whenever I’m having a bad day, I head over to A Fox & Hound Petit and let the littles climb all over me. It’s pure heaven.”
A Fox & Hounds
Main facility: 12 Grove St., Norwell, 781-871-2369
Petit: 119 Washington St., Norwell, 339-788-9269
Training: 211 Lincoln St., Hingham, 781-385-7369