Brunswick dog day-care business has tails wagging

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BRUNSWICK — When she opened Blue Dog Day Care in November, Meghan Osborne suspected business would be good, but she didn’t expect to have a full house every day.

“I don’t know if I thought we were going to reach the limit in the first two months,” Osborne said, in an interview at the business, in a former storage building on Allagash Way at Brunswick Landing.

Osborne and her three employees take care of 40-45 dogs every day. Owners drop off their dogs in the morning, or can have them picked up by Blue Dog’s taxi service, and collect them in the afternoon. Blue Dog costs $20 for a full day and $15 for half-day, with extra for added training.

Although she started with a strong client base from a previous dog-care business, almost half of her customers learned about Blue Dog through word of mouth or from driving by on Bath Road and seeing the name of the business painted in big, blue letters on the side of the building.

The majority of her clients are working people who want to make sure their furry friends are getting exercise and socialization while they are away from home during the day, Osborne said.

Mainly, the aim is to let the dogs romp around and get lots of attention and, if needed, some training, Osborne said. While the experience can be overstimulating for some dogs, most go home tired and happy.

“It’s not for all dogs,” she said, “but it is for most dogs.”

A Harpswell native, Osborne trained dogs in Massachusetts for several years before moving back to the area to open up her own business in 2007. She named the new venture after Blue, a chocolate lab mix Osborne lived with for 15 years.

Osborne decided to make the move to Brunswick Landing last year, and with such steady business, she said she’s wondering if expansion might be in her future.

In the coming months, Osborne hopes to add self-serve washing stations, rubberize the building’s concrete floors, and upgrade its outdoor play area. The improvements are being funded through a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant micro loan.

Blue Dog Day Care is one of several animal day-care businesses that have opened in the area in the last decade or so, riding a wave of cash that Americans are shelling out to take care of their pets.

The American Pet Products Association estimates that pet owners spent $58.5 billion on pet care in 2014. That spending included $4.7 billion on pet services, like day care and boarding, a more than 7 percent increase from 2013. 

Those numbers delight entrepreneurs like Osborne. 

“It’s a good business to be in,” she said. “It’s never going to go away. People are always going to have dogs.”

Peter L. McGuire can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or pmcguire@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter @PeteL_McGuire.

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Meghan Osborne greets one of her clients at Blue Dog Day Care in Brunswick.

New customers have learned about Blue Dog Day Care from its prominent sign, seen from Bath Road in Brunswick.

TechPlace opens at Brunswick Landing

BRUNSWICK — The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority has opened the doors of TechPlace, a collaborative “business accelerator,” at Brunswick Landing. 

Three tenants have signed on to lease space in the 20,000-square-foot office complex, the first phase of a project that will convert a former aircraft maintenance hanger into manufacturing and research space.

The goal is to give start-ups in the composite materials, information technology, renewable energy, and biomedical industries space to grow and interact with each other, and possibly expand to other Brunswick Landing properties.

MRRA is providing flexible leases, ranging from $200 a month for a desk in the “bullpen” on the building’s main floor, to around a $1,000 a month for a second-level suite. 

Tenants will have access to Wi-Fi and office services, as well as conference rooms and occasional workshops and training. Other amenities like a lounge and game room are intended to encourage conversation and collaboration between entrepreneurs. 

On a tour of the building last week, Ben Cameron, owner of Harbor Digital, an outsourced IT firm that is TechPlace’s first tenant, said he is excited to meet other business owners.

Cameron, who recently moved to the Brunswick area with his wife, was initially looking for cubicle space, but selected a larger office suite at TechPlace instead.

“It’s more than I could have hoped for,” Cameron said.

Not only is the space better-suited for his needs, he is also in a position to expand into southern Maine. He said he will maintain his office in Rockport, but hopes to hire at least one more employee. 

Other offices have been leased by the Drummond Woodsum law firm and Insphero, a Swiss biomedical company.

MRRA said it also expects to finalize lease deals with other tenants in the near future.

— Peter L. McGuire

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