By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Grafton – Everything pets and their owners have come to love about Gibson Kennels??”grooming, training, doggie daycare, and a wide array of natural foods??”is now also available at a second location, Gibson's Natural Pet in Worcester.
Or just about everything. Pets needing overnight boarding still go to the idyllic farm setting of Gibson Kennels in Grafton.
Bob and Mel Gibson started their pet care business in 2002 after renovating a dilapidated 10-acre horse farm. Last September, they opened the new store on Route 122 in Worcester after completely redoing the site, which formerly housed a tire retailer and, before that, a car dealer.
“The service bays were turned into doggie daycare,” Bob said.
They'sl take one more step in their business expansion this month, when an online retail site, www.gibsonsnaturalpet.com, launches, with all 6,000 products carried in the two stores. Michael Gibson, their oldest son, a college student active in the family business, has developed the online store.
The younger two Gibson sons, David and Christopher, still in high school, also work at the kennel and stores as time permits, and helped with construction of the new store, which the Gibsons did themselves, just as they built the kennels 10 years ago.
“We had been looking for a second location for several years that wasn's too close to the existing business,” Bob said. “Mel wanted to focus on retail because she's a marketing genius.”
“We'se entrepreneurs. We want to keep growing,” Mel added.
And she emphasized both stores are priced competitively with the large pet chains. “Independent does not mean we'se expensive.”
The pet foods Gibson's Natural Pet carries, as the store name implies, “are all natural ingredients, no by-products, no corn,” she said. “We have some lines that are a dollar a pound. You don's have to break the bank to feed your dogs and cats healthy foods.”
In addition to the natural foods, which come in dry, canned and frozen varieties, the stores have a huge assortment of leashes, collars, toys, medications and gift items, including products for birds, fish and small animals such as hamsters and rabbits.
“If we don's have what your pet needs, we can order it for you,” Bob said.
Both locations have full-time dog groomers on their staffs. Both also offer training programs for both puppies and older dogs.
Since dogs often benefit from socializing with other dogs and people, especially if their owners are out of the house all day, the two locations have doggie day care facilities, with ample indoor and outdoor play space, even designated nap times.
“A well-socialized dog is a happy dog,” Bob said. “When dogs are left alone all day and don’t have things to do, they end up destroying the house.”
Before dogs are admitted to the program, they are carefully screened to make sure they are not overly aggressive and can play well with other dogs.
“Of every 10 dogs we interview, two or three make it,” Bob said.
At the Grafton kennels, all boarding rooms are heated and air-conditioned; one has radiant heated floors as well. The largest room has 30 indoor-outdoor runs, where dogs have access to covered outdoor runs via a doggie door. The room has 24 indoor-only kennels.
A second dog boarding room has 31 indoor kennels and is reserved for smaller or older animals that need a quieter atmosphere. Dogs in indoor kennels go outside several times a day.
In a recent upgrade, Gibson has put down Astroturf in the outdoor play areas, which is easier than stones on the dogs” feet and keeps the dogs cleaner when the weather is wet. “No more dirty dogs,” Bob laughed.
Cats are boarded in a separate room, no dogs allowed. The visiting cats have three-level “cat condos” so they can climb, and are let out individually to play on the room's climbing towers.
Gibson Kennels is located at 139 Upton St. (Rt. 140) in Grafton. Additional information is available on the website at www.gibsonkennels.com or call 508-839-1757.
Gibson's Natural Pet store is at 994 Grafton St. (Rt. 122) in Worcester, 508-926-8628, www.gibsonsnaturalpet.com.