Dogs can be an important part of a family and are treated with the same, special care at Dogwoods Lodge, an all-inclusive luxury dog facility in Grimes. The lodge, located at 2960 S.E. Grimes Blvd., is owned by Jessica Lohry, who wanted to bring a high-caliber dog care facility to the Des Moines area. The building is set on two acres at 11,000 square feet and is modeled after a mountain lodge.

The facility can hold 45 dogs in the day camp. Overnight campers have the choice of a chalet or cabin, both designed by Lohry, with stress-reduction and comfort in mind. "The most important feature might be naked to the untrained eye: It is that all our rooms have a solid wall for the dogs to relax behind," she said. "Most kennel facilities leave the dogs exposed behind open chain link with nowhere to really relax for their entire stay, which greatly increases their stress." Other stress-reducing features are in-floor heating, glass doors on all rooms for noise reduction, TVs for ambient, familiar sounds and some include outdoor patios for indoor-outdoor lodging. Each cabin offers up to 80 square feet of space with a custom raised bed and glass doors. Chalets are 170 square feet which include custom made log beds with plush bedding, handmade wood feeders, and large windows and glass doors. Some overlook the courtyard with log benches for the dogs.

Dogs are let out at least six times per day to play and other a la carte activities include private walks, play sessions, daycamp, interactive toys, spa treatments, cuddle times and room service. Medical checks are done on every overnight camper. There are also three large indoor play yards with attached outside play yards. Indoor surfaces are skid-free, even when wet.

Outer surfaces are dog-specific turf and pea gravel. "Camp Counselors" are trained in K-9 pack management. Dog parents can view their dogs on webcams during the day and report cards are sent home telling "parents" what their dogs did while they were away. The facility also offers grooming with Janine Lazarus, who trained at LaBest on the east coast. Lohry also noted that training is on the top of the list for Dogwoods. Their professional Board’n Train services "are the best in the state."

Originally from Sioux City, she attended Iowa State University and earned her degree in engineering, but her love for dogs won out. Lohry also owns Pooch Academy, a dog training school which she started in 2009.

Dogwoods employs 18 people at present and Joseph Cassis serves as director of operations and marketing.

For more information on Dogwoods Lodge, please call 515-986-7387.