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.
“There are lots of reasons why I love owning DTD. Working the amazing team below, and seeing their passion for dogs, are at the top of my list!”
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.
“I admire the extra mile that DTD goes for each individual dog. The dedication, hard work, and love that our team has for the dogs in our care, and having an owner who truly cares about the wellbeing of the dogs and employees, makes DTD a positive and supportive environment for everyone (dogs and humans)!”
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).
“I have a lot of pride in working at DTD because we are different. We love our staff, clients, dogs, and the community. Ralph has built a spectacular business model in treating each person and pet as an individual. He models for us how to support each other, care for the dogs, and support our community.”
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.
“I love working at DTD because I get to spend time with these happy creatures! It’s true we all love dogs, but at DTD, we REAAAAALLY love dogs—and I believe it shows in our excitement every time a customer walks in with their dog! Bonus: If you’re having a tough day, you have at least 100 furry friends in the building to cheer you up!
Abbe, Retail & Community Outreach Liaison
Abbe has been working behind the scenes at Downtown Dogs on “all things marketing” for more than five years. Her substantial contributions to our success reflect her 20+ years of professional experience in advertising/PR, marketing/outreach, and retail/merchandising. She also brings a LIFETIME LOVE OF DOGS, especially Terriers.
Abbe heads up our Change Unleashed! initiative and is the creative force behind our retail Barktiques. She coordinates our events and promotions, works closely with our outside graphic design/marketing firm, and “helps” Lyle, Frannie, and Helen — the goofy dogs belonging to her and her husband, Downtown Dogs owner Ralph — write our blogs.
Although she intensely dislikes the cold, Abbe is a Minnesota girl through and through. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, she has lived her entire life within a 10-mile radius of her childhood home in New Hope, MN.
Abbe’s first dog was a Westie. While raising her two, now-grown children, she also raised two Welsh Terriers. (Abbe wants to take every Terrier customer home with her, but we explain that they are only here for a daycare or boarding visit.)
“I love working at DTD because we help dogs live their best lives. And as a dog mom, I love knowing we are giving pet parents peace of mind. I also love that our business makes giving back to the community a priority.”