The Darling Dog opened its doors in Yelm on Tuesday, Aug. 1, offering dog owners boarding and day care services.
The day care, owned by Jocelyn Mitchell and her fiancé, Wes Fogle, is located at 12024 Hobby St. SE in Yelm. Services include full-day and half-day — or less than five hours — day care, overnight boarding and one fenced acre for dogs to play. There is also a private area for small or anxious dogs, as well as 10 indoor, air-conditioned and heated kennels.
“It’s really exciting and a little overwhelming,” Mitchell said of the opening of the business. “I’ve had such a good response from the community, and it’s been really welcoming.”
Mitchell has more than 15 years of pet care experience. She attended the veterinary technician program at Pierce College in Tacoma, where she earned her license in 2019. Her love of animals, however, and knowledge in the veterinary field date back to when she was a teenager, learning from her mother, who also works in the veterinary field, and growing up around animals. Mitchell began working at Yelm Veterinary Hospital at 15 by helping with kennels, cleaning up after animals and walking dogs.
“Yelm Vet was the reason I fell in love with veterinary medicine,” she said. “I’ve had every job in a clinic except doctor. I was an assistant, then I was a receptionist and then a technician.”
Mitchell worked at Deschutes Animal Clinic shortly after graduating from Pierce College, and within a year, she handled all ordering and inventory for the practice. Mitchell eventually became the lead technician at Deschutes, but the birth of her second child, Darcy, in December of 2022 changed her priorities.
“When we got home with Darcy, we said, ‘What can we do? What is something that I can do at home and still raise my baby but use a skill that I worked really hard to get?’ ” she said. “I came up with the idea for this business and said it in passing to my fiancé, and he was like, ‘Wait a second. That might be a good idea.’ He took it and ran with it.”
Her husband helped her build the shop next to their home in a span of eight months.
“It was a dream I always had but never thought it was achievable,” Mitchell said. “We did all of it ourselves and had friends come and help. [Wes] literally made my dreams come true.”
Mitchell said that her business will succeed because she offers personal care and ensures that the dog-owners’ needs are met and the dogs are happy.
“It’s very personal, and it’s hands-on,” she said. “I have a lot of experience that I think makes me a good eye for some stuff and that makes you feel comfortable leaving your animal in my care. So, if the worst did happen, there’s someone who is trained and knows what to do in those situations.”
When she’s not on dog day care duty, she’s taking care of her children, Eamon and Darcy, and her dogs, Rupert and McClane, who represent the two dogs in The Darling Dog logo. The logo isn’t the only meaningful aspect of The Darling Dog brand for Mitchell, however.
Darling is a family name handed down since 1838, when Grace Darling saved nine people from a shipwreck off the coast of England. She and her father, who helped with the rescue, were awarded gold medals from the Royal Humane Society, and she was the first woman to receive a Royal National Lifeboat Institution Medal. The surname has been passed down to all of the daughters on her mother’s side of the family, and it is even her daughter’s middle name.
“That name was really important to me growing up, and my mother always told me the story of it,” Mitchell said. “We were thinking of names for the business, and we threw it out there. I love the family aspect of it because it is a family business.”
Customers looking to book a stay for their pets can do so at www.thedarlingdogs.com, or call 360-499-2008. The Darling Dog is open from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.