Doggone it

Molly & Friends is the place to pamper your pup
By 
Story And Photos By Jaci Webb
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Jodi Mackay is a life-long dog lover who runs her doggie day care with help from office manager Paige Farmer.

Jodi Mackay is a life-long dog lover who runs her doggie day care with help from office manager Paige Farmer.

A golden retriever greets a visitor at Molly & Friends.

A golden retriever greets a visitor at Molly & Friends.

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Dogs sit for goodies while one of the dog care assistants doles out treats.

Dogs sit for goodies while one of the dog care assistants doles out treats.

There may be a labor shortage in many industries, but apparently not in the doggie day care business.

Business is booming at one of Laurel’s newest enterprises, Molly & Friends, 317 E. Main St., but there are also plenty of folks willing to spend the day taking care of your pup. Owner Jodi Mackay is a life-long dog lover, even naming the business after the first dog she had as an adult, or as Mackay describes it, “The dog that all other dogs will be judged by.” A story and picture of Molly is posted on the wall in the office area of the large facility.

On a recent Friday afternoon, there were 13 dogs spending their day at Molly & Friends, and from the looks of the wagging tails, they were having a pretty good day. So were the dog care assistants, who were smiling wide when they handed out treats, getting all 13 dogs to sit down at the same time. There wasn’t a sign of a doggy mess anywhere.

Mackay and her staff of six seem to know most of the dog’s names. A bulletin board has notes updated throughout the day to hand back to each pet owner when they pick up their dog. They find out if their dog was playful or sleepy or how they interacted with the other dogs. There were golden retrievers and beagles and mix-breed dogs; big and small, they all got along.

“Just like kids, they are a whole lot better when Mom and Dad leave,” Mackay said. “We do a temperament check on them first. The parent stays out in the office, and we take the dog in the back. That’s where my dogs come in; my girls – Toluca and Sadie -- are mellow. If that goes well, we introduce them to the pack.”

The COVID pandemic has prompted many people to adopt a dog, possibly for the first time. Some of the new pet owners don’t understand how to train their new charges, and when pets are left alone, there are sometimes issues. That’s been boosting dog businesses as pet owners seek help in grooming, day care, and training. Molly & Friends also offers a do-it-yourself dog washing station and refers dogs to local groomers if they need one.

Mackay works in Billings in human services a couple days a week, so it was vital that she find an office manager who was strong at organization. Who did she recruit? Her daughter’s onetime child care provider, Paige Farmer. Mackay reasoned that taking care of dogs is a lot like taking care of kids.

Farmer brings her 3-year-old daughter, Ada, to work with her, and Mackay’s daughter, Allison, 8, spends most of her days at the facility when she’s not in school. Allison even has a job title – consultant.

“Ally is the one who came up with the idea for the quote on the back of our shirts – “Hey, I like your dog.” That’s what she always says,” Mackay said.

When it’s your pet’s birthday, the staff will walk your dog to Laurel’s Main Street Perk for a puppuccino, which is a cup of whipped cream with a dog treat inside. Dog birthday party? Yes, Molly & Friends will host it.

Molly & Friends is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturday and Sunday by appointment. The cost for doggie day care is $4 per hour or $22 for a full day, which is seven-plus hours. The do-it-yourself dog wash is $15, which includes soap and a spray water nozzle. Dog boarding is also available. For more information, call Molly & Friends at 406-633-4488.

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