Lisa Shook wanted a place for her dog, Piper, to be able to play out of the rain and elements. Discovering a lack of indoor play space for pooches in Federal Way, Shook decided to open her own.
Piper’s Playground, named for Shook’s west highland terrier mix, opened Jan. 18 at 34016 Ninth Ave. S., Suite D-7.
“I needed a place for Piper to go and play where she isn’t getting all dirty,” Shook said. “Because she is so short to the ground, her little belly will get wet.”
When Shook started looking for indoor dog parks, all she could find close by were ones associated with doggy day cares.
“Isn’t there just a place where you can just pay to go inside and play?” Shook said she asked herself. “I couldn’t find anything close enough without driving to Seattle.”
Shook had rented the space that is now home to Piper’s Playground with the intent of using it for her other business, Amethyst Sign and Graphics, but the layout wasn’t right.
The space was perfect, however, for an indoor dog park.
Shook’s sign company is located in a nearby space in the same business park as Piper’s Playground.
Despite owning a company catered to canines, Shook hasn’t always been a dog person.
“Almost two years ago, I started having this feeling a dog is looking for me,” she said. “… I didn’t know how to describe it. … The feeling wouldn’t go away. It went on every day, every other day for a month and a half.”
One day, while standing in line at the grocery store, Shook saw a postcard with a dog on it.
“It said, ‘Where are you? I have been waiting and looking for you.’ I almost fell over,” she said. “I was just shocked.”
She took that as a sign she was meant to get a dog and the next day went to Sunny Sky’s Animal Rescue in Puyallup, where her friend volunteers.
“First they brought out this little puppy, and I don’t really know what do with a puppy,” Shook said. “They brought out Piper and she came right out to me. … After that we just fell in love with her, and she changed our lives. Realizing we need more balance, she just brought so much love.”
Before opening Piper’s Playground, Shook started gauging community interest in an indoor dog park.
“I would walk Piper on the trail and would ask people while we were walking ‘would you go to an indoor dog park if there was one?’ (The response was) ‘Man, we have been waiting for an indoor dog park forever,’ ” Shook said. “I was really thankful that this was the response. People in the community, they want this to be successful so it will be here, so they have a place. I think I didn’t really realize the need for it.”
Dogs and their owners can drop in at Piper’s Playground for $10 a day or they can become members and get discounted rates.
In the first couple of weeks, the dog park already has about a dozen members, many of whom have become regulars, frequenting the park daily.
Mindy Kim was one of the first members of Piper’s Playground. She and her dogs, Poby and Harry, sometimes make two trips a day to the facility.
Kim used to make regular trips to an indoor dog park in Seattle.
“It is like 45 minutes to go up there every weekend or so,” she said.“We have been trying to find something closer. … We are very excited to have something down here closer to home. We only live like five minutes away.”
Poby and Harry enjoy having a space to run around, Kim said.
“They wear themselves out, especially when they have friends here,” she said.
Piper’s Playground has balls and chew toys for dogs to play with, a large climbing toy and plenty of open space in which dogs can run.
Raina Labrum likes having a dry space for her dog, Riven, to play.
“She needs exercise, but I don’t want mud. … I don’t have to give her a bath every day,” Labrum said of using the indoor dog park.
Shook plans to host monthly events at Piper’s Playground, including a Valentine’s Day event, and is looking at offering dog yoga and dog training courses in the space.
The park is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.