Liz Blondy opened Canine to Five back in the middle of the 2000s when Midtown was still known as the Cass Corridor. This was back in pre-Whole Foods Detroit, when Cass past Wayne State was an avenue you sprinted your bike through at night.
This was the neighborhood of the legendary Gold Dollar, where the White Stripes played their first show. By 2005, it had been closed for four years and stood empty, like many buildings on its block.
This doggy day-care came before the Burton Theatre, and later, Cinema Detroit—before The Peterborough and the IPA craze. These were the days when coffeeshops cared more about couches than beans.
Liz opened pre-many things we think of as “new” except Slows — The famous BBQ spot credited with Corktown’s “comeback” opened the same year as Canine to Five.
If you think opening a restaurant by an abandoned train station is a risky move, let’s just say doggy daycare in one of Detroit’s most notoriously high crime neighborhoods wouldn’t be someone’s definition of a sound business model either.
But it turned out to be a successful one. Liz took a bet that Detroiter’s loved their dogs enough to invest in daycare, boarding, grooming, etc. and she was right. Fast forward to 2019: Canine to Five Detroit is THRIVING in its original— and expanded—location. There’s even a second spot in Ferndale. Because, yes, Suburbs, great trends start in cities.
Lucky for you, both locations are hiring.
We caught up with Liz to learn more about Canine to Five, available positions and what she’s looking for in a teammate.
CV Henriette: When did you open the first Canine to Five? What was the inspiration?
Liz Blondy: I opened Canine To Five Detroit in the Cass Corridor in 2005 in order to provide services to Detroiters that were not currently available and I wanted to work with animals — Canine To Five Detroit made both those things possible. I opened Canine To Five Ferndale in 2013, in response to the community wanting something closer to their homes.
CVh: You were the first doggie day care in Detroit, yeah? How has the market changed since you’ve opened?
LB: Yes, we were the first to open in Detroit. We’ve seen increased competition in our Ferndale location but we continue to dominate the Detroit daycare market. The pet care industry has exploded over the last 10 years – Americans are madly in love with their dogs and want nothing but the best care for them.
CVh: Have these changes made it easier to find qualified staff now than it was when you first opened?
LB: People’s acceptance of Detroit has made it easier, however, the tight job market over the last year or so has made it harder. As the pet care industry continues to grow, it will become increasingly challenging to find enough skilled people with the passion for animals needed to work with them every day.
CVh: What has Canine to Five taught you about being a boss?
LB: That I made a very wise decision not to have children?
CVh: What positions are you looking to fill?
LB: We’re looking for someone to provide exceptional customer service at our Midtown (we call it that now) location. We’re always looking for Pack Leaders in both Midtown and Ferndale. We have full- and part-time hours available and offer Blue Cross to full timers.
CVh: What do you look for in an employee?
LB: Job history is a huge thing. If you cannot last longer than 6 months at a job, then we won’t waste our time training you. I believe in hiring from your community, so we try and hire as many Detroit and Ferndale residents as possible. We are a very open and accepting company, so we look for people with the same values to join our team.
CVh: When looking over resumes, what are some things that stick out to you—for the best and for the worst?
LB: We love horse people and barn girls/boys. If you can handle working with horses, you can totally handle working with dogs. We look for people who have a solid job history with experience relevant to the job they are applying for.
CVh: How do you tell if someone’s being sincere?
LB: I take people at face value, so I always assume they are being sincere. Maybe that is naive, but I like to think of it as optimistic.
CVh: Benefits of working at Canine to Five?
LB: Free pet care! Paid time off, IRA with a match! Puppies every day! Core Values that we actually live up to! Health care (including vision and dental) to full timers.
CVh: Biggest challenge to new hires?
LB: It can be a very physical job. People think we get to play with puppies all day, but really we’re a cross between a life-guard, a teacher, a dog trainer and a janitor. It’s rewarding as hell, but it is hard work.
CVh: Words of wisdom to your new staff members?
LB: Get used to dog poop, it will be a big part of your life.