Every team member at Downtown Dogs and Dog’s Day Out is a dog lover. We pour our energy, passion, knowledge, and skills into delighting every pup and parent who walk through our front door.
In 2011, Downtown Dogs owner Ralph Bernstein saw his world nearly shattered.
At 49 years old, Ralph’s vibrant, healthy wife Stephanie suffered a massive stroke. She died five weeks later, with no explanation or reason as to why the stroke occurred. The world was forever changed for Ralph and his two children. And Ralph was forever changed too.
Ralph was a successful banker—blending into the downtown swarm of pinstripe suited, bluetooth eared professionals with ease. But after Stephanie’s death, his vision had changed. He was no longer able to see his office in the same way. The work no longer carried the importance it once had.
That’s when he realized that the two best moments of his day came when he dropped off and picked up his dog Frannie at Downtown Dogs. Stepping into the door, Ralph was awash in happiness and warmth. Yes, the furry friends barking a welcome were a big part of that. But the people and the setting and the pure positive energy of the place played just as much of a role in creating a unique feeling of “home.” Ralph knew he had found his next calling.
Ralph approached the owner of Downtown Dogs about buying the business from her. Many conversations later, Ralph officially called Downtown Dogs his own. In 2020 he expanded and opened Dog’s Day Out, a DIY and full service bathing and grooming salon next to Downtown Dogs.
Today, Ralph counts himself among the happiest of the happy small business owners and humans. Together he and Abbe, his wife since 2019, have a small litter of grown children (all of whom live in town), and three dogs of their own.
In January 2023 Ralph was elected to the Board of Directors at Mission Animal Hospital, the first-ever, and still only, nonprofit veterinary hospital in the Midwest.
Erin, Chief Administrative Officer
This is Erin, Downtown Dog’s Chief Administrative Officer. She’s also the company’s longest serving employee, celebrating her 18th anniversary with the company in October 2022!
Erin has always had a strong love and passion for all animals with dogs being on the top of her list. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science from the University of Minnesota.
Erin is proud of the extra mile that we go for our customers, “The dedication, hard work, and love that we show each dog in our care is what makes Downtown Dogs such a special, positive, and supportive environment for everyone (dogs and humans).”
An active volunteer for many years with the Upper Midwest Great Dane Rescue, Erin has owned five Danes including Rocko, her current “foster fail.”
In her free time Erin enjoys hanging out with her husband and three children. She loves camping, being on the lake, and attending all of her children’s sporting events.
Lindsay, General Manager
Meet Lindsay! She’s been with Downtown Dogs as a dog handler, obedience trainer, and shift-lead for nine years, and became our General Manager in August 2021.
Lindsay’s personal philosophy when working with dogs in our care is that healthy behaviors and successful relationships can be achieved with clear expectations and boundaries.
This approach is rooted in her education through the International Boarding & Pet Services Association and Animal Behavior College.
Lindsay’s life revolves around dogs. Outside of work she enjoys volunteering (especially within the dog community), traveling (especially if dogs can come), and spending time in nature (with her three dogs).
Jess joined Downtown Dogs in September 2018 and became a manager in June 2019. She’s been working with dogs for nearly 10 years and has a particular passion for challenging dogs through enrichment activities that pair well with their personality and play style.
Jess appreciates that Downtown Dogs shares her enthusiasm for recognizing dogs as individuals and figuring out what makes them tick.
When not at work, Jess prefers to be outdoors and “off the grid”—fishing, camping, and enjoying mother nature’s gifts with her partner and their dog Banks.
Maddie joined Downtown Dogs in January 2021 and became a manager in September 2022. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Minnesota. She worked in the field for two years before coming to Downtown Dogs.
Maddie says that working at Downtown Dogs feeds her life-long passion for dogs, especially large breeds like Newfoundlands and Mastiffs. She especially appreciates that we welcome all sizes, breeds, and ages of dogs—and how committed we are to tending to each dog’s individual needs.
In her free time, you’ll find Maddie hanging out with her fiancé and two dogs, Riley and Luna. She enjoys watching MN United games, checking out new hiking spots, and tending to houseplants.