Gloria Ruggeri has always been a big dog lover.
So when it came time to figure out her next career move, Ruggeri decided she wanted to do something where she could work and play with dogs.
She started Toby Town RVA, a dog daycare and staycare facility. She named the center after her beloved Toby, a Dapple Dachshund who died in 2015 after seven years.
"We based our business model on the idea that everybody has their own Toby and they have a dog that means everything to their heart...that every dog that comes through our doors is somebody’s Toby," Ruggeri said. "We based the facility to provide pet parents with that extra loving attention that dogs just would not be housed here but they are part of our family."
Toby Town RVA, which opened last month, is at 2100 Maywill St., near Thalbro Street, in Henrico County.
The renovated 6,700-square-foot space houses up to 80 kennel accommodations as well as indoor and outdoor play spaces.
Toby Town RVA offers personalized daycare play schedules, supervised enrichment activities, daytime and nighttime boarding options and pet care services.
Ruggeri created what she calls a town for dogs complete with street signs and each area of the center having its own name. For instance, the main hallway is called Tail Wagger Way. Central Bark and Canine Clubhouse are two of the indoor play areas. Hound Town Square is the office. Shampooch Salon is for shampooing, nail clipping and teeth brushing.
Toby was her inspiration for the center, she said. The space has been decorated with murals throughout the buildings as well as outside with the its mascot, Little T McWeen. (The mascot is a Dachshund but it isn't her Toby, she said.)
"We created a very bright place.... where when people come in they could feel uplifted," she said.
Ruggeri said she understands the anxieties dog parents undergo when leaving their canines in a new place. "We have playrooms like you would see in the child daycare area. That way a parent would feel happy and excited to bring them in."
Toby Town RVA expects to have a ratio of 12 to 15 dogs per human employee in the play group areas. "We intentionally want to keep our numbers small so that dogs can get more attention," she said.
For doggie daycare, the cost is $28 for a one-day only pass.
But the per-day pricing goes down if the customer buys multiple day packages. For instance, a 20-day package costs $23 a day while a 10-day package costs $25 a day.
Toby Town RVA also has packages for overnight stays that include what the center calls either a comfy cabin or a deluxe cabin and where the canine is either in a group or individual setting.