Snow is on its way to Chapel Hill, but inside the Green Beagle Lodge, the stone fireplace keeps everyone warm during a Valentine’s-themed event. The crowd mingles as they sample chocolates and sip wine. But others, lacking a refined palate (and patience), gobble down their treats. “The dogs don’t care. They just want to eat,” says Tammy Purner, a co-owner of the pet boarding and daycare facility just off N.C. 86. Special events, along with regular Friday “Yappy Hours,” are why owners and pets alike might want to stick around the pet resort after hours. The leather couches, bone-shaped banquette and lofty ceilings in the lobby don’t hurt either. “[Customers] come in, and we’ll ask, ‘Are you ready to go home?’ They’ll say, ‘Nope, I just want to watch for a while,’” Tammy says.
Building a community was precisely what Tammy and co-owner Margy Schmidt were after when they opened last June. The membership program is reminiscent of the dog-walking society Margy belonged to when she lived in London. “You meet in the park at a designated time with your dog friends,” she recalls. “You walk together, and the humans bond.” One way Green Beagle Lodge cultivates relationships is through membership perks like events, late checkouts, and usage of the poolyard and football yard as a private dog park. “We’re like a country club for dogs,” Margy says.
It was a partnership a decade in the making. Tammy met Margy when their kids were in kindergarten at St. Thomas More, and the pair ran the school auction two years together. “We were joined at the hip from then [on],” Tammy says. When Margy and her husband David joined with Tammy and her husband Andrew to buy a dog-boarding facility, countless tours and research left them with a list of things they’d do differently. So they decided to launch a brand new one named for their beloved beagles past and present. Adjacent to the land Tammy grew up on, the lodge was built with as much consideration for the environment as the pets themselves. Here, collected rainwater is used to clean the floors and fill up the pool, and, in a former life, the turf field was an indoor soccer field. Not that the dogs notice – they’re too busy chasing tennis balls or their friends in playgroups configured by size, age and personality.
The four owners are all pet lovers, but they’re not experts. That’s where a staff of 30, including trainers, comes in. Some are so dedicated to the dogs that they’ll check on them on their days off. With a committed team and nearly a year of business in the rearview mirror, the owners are confident as they enter their first full summer vacation season. “Summer? No problem,” Margy says. And if any obstacles do arise, Margy and Tammy are in good company.
“Working with animals is better than therapy,” Tammy says. “No matter what challenges the day brings, our guests spread joy and love in a way only a dog can … with no strings attached,except for the occasional belly rub or treat.” CHM