Ralph is in the news! Yay Ralph!
The StarTribune had a great article about Ralph. It explains how he came to Downtown Dogs.
Meet our owner!
It's not often that a business can go through a change in ownership without missing a beat. But, that's exactly what happened at Downtown Dogs. Yes, you will still be greeted with a hearty "Hello!" each time you visit. Yes, the people at the front desk will still check you in with their legendary cheerful efficiency. And yes, your dog will still be loved and cared for as always. But really, you need to meet Ralph to understand all of this. (That's Ralph's very first selfie with Frannie, the dog.)
Here's Ralph in his own words:
I was a banker. Stand on Nicollet Mall on any weekday and you’ll see a thousand people who look like I did. You know the type – pinstripe suit, wingtip shoes, cell phone attached to our ear – captains of industry, young and old, climbing the corporate ladder.
And I was pretty good at it. I came to Minnesota in 1996 to work for a big company and, by the time I left, I was running a multi million-dollar business for them. I had a pretty good and pretty typical life. I had a wife and two children, a house in the suburbs, two cars, friends, golf clubs, dog, etc. I was good at my job, and the company was happy to pay me pretty well, so off I went to work every day.
And then, on April 21, 2011, my whole world turned upside down.
That’s the day that my wife, Stephanie, suffered a massive stroke. Five weeks later she died. She was 49 years old. I will never know why it happened. All I know is that, in an instant, everything that I thought was important and everything that I thought my life was about, was shattered. And that’s when the blinders came off.
When I went back to work I soon saw just how much I had convinced myself that I was supposed to have a big corporate job. Then I realized how much I didn’t want to do it anymore. I started to think about what I would do if I weren’t in the corporate world. That’s when it hit me that the best parts of my day were when I dropped my dog Frannie off at Downtown Dogs in the morning and picked her up again in the evening. It wasn’t just seeing all of the other dogs (although I am “dog stupid” as Stephanie used to say). It was, as much, the tremendous positive energy and genuine warmth that greeted me every time that I opened the door. That’s a rare thing and it was exactly what I needed when everything else in my life SUCKED!
And so, I began to think that maybe I would open my own dog daycare business. But, the more I thought about it, the more that I realized that I didn’t want just any dog daycare business, I wanted Downtown Dogs. No other business has the amazing combination of people, energy, love, passion, knowledge, and skills that make Downtown Dogs the awesome place that it is. And so, I approached the former owner with the idea of selling me Downtown Dogs. Two years, and many conversations later, we signed on the dotted lines and Downtown Dogs became my new home.
There’s a lot more to my story that I’ll be happy to bore you with later. For now, just know how excited I am, every day, to see all of our fantastic clients – and their owners – and to be working with the best group of people, and dogs, that I have ever known.
Please say hi to Ralph when you see him. And do let him know that a 30-foot mural of Frannie on the side of the building might be taking the whole pug thing a bit far. (Just to clarify: Frannie's name is spelled with an 'ie' not a 'y.')