By LOIS KINDLE
Danielle “Dani” Judge has always loved animals. Surrounded by them her entire life, she and her mom volunteered when she was young at the Lewis House, a domestic violence shelter in Egan, Minn., and brought along their golden retriever, Paige, as a therapy dog.
When the dog passed away, Judge began working at the surrender desk of a local pet shelter. Part of her position there was to evaluate animals for their adoptability based on their behaviors and physical condition.
In 2008, at age 21, she landed her first job at Dog Day Getaway, a boarding and daycare facility in Apple Valley, Minn., where the dream of owning one of her own was born.
On May 1, that dream will be realized when Dani opens Rowdy’s Pet Resort, at 13141 Kings Lake Drive, just north of Big Bend Road in Gibsonton. It’s under the same roof as the new Family Animal Hospital operated by her friend Anna Bannon, DVM.
Judge knows most folks consider their dogs family members and leaving them in the care of others, even for a weekend, can be difficult.
“We do a three-hour meet-and-greet to evaluate each dog’s response to other dogs and how comfortable they are in our facility,” Judge said. “We know (boarding or day care) is not for every pet, and we want to make sure we’re a good fit. If not, we’ll recommend in-home pet sitting or other care.”
Although some dogs are a bit nervous when they first come in, most gradually develop self-confidence.
“It’s wonderful to see them change,” Judge said. “They turn out to be some of my favorite guests.”
Prospective clients can be assured Judge’s credentials are bona fide.
She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science (pre-veterinary medicine). During her last semester, she interned at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, where she worked with primates of all kinds and occasionally helped care for its lions, tigers and snow leopards. She also worked as a veterinary assistant for Blue Pearl.
After graduation, she took a marketing position with the company, and then became its veterinary outreach coordinator. In that position, she organized continuing education classes for veterinarians who were general practitioners and submitted stories for the company’s various publications. She left in 2013 to move to Land O’ Lakes with her husband, James, Blue Pearl’s media relations director. The couple now live on a mini-farm in Wesley Chapel with their menagerie of three dogs, three cats, two horses, some chickens, waterfowl and a fish.
“Over the next three years, I worked for the Veterinary Center at FishHawk and the Hillsborough Animal Foundation and helped open the nonprofit veterinary hospital, Vets4Pets,” Judge said. “That’s how I met Anna (Bannon).”
Then in 2016, she opened Rowdy’s on the Run, a fully licensed and insured pet-sitting service in Wesley Chapel.
“It was supposed to be a temporary job, while I began seriously planning to open my own boarding and daycare facility for dogs,” Judge said. “It got so busy I hired two wonderful employees, and it’s still in operation.”
Rowdy’s Pet Resort is named after Judge’s 11-year-old boxer.
“He’s the inspiration behind all of this,” she said. “I always want to give him the best, and you can be sure that’s what I’ll provide your pets.”
The daycare and boarding facility offers private, enclosed suites with raised beds and plush blankets and separated, open play areas, (indoors and outdoors) for both small and large breeds. Siblings can share suites, if their owners desire.
Guests must have up-to-date rabies, distemper, Bordetella and canine flu vaccinations.
The cost is $42 per night, with a 15-percent discount for each additional dog. Discounts are also provided for extended stays. Self-serve or full-service baths, nail trims, ear cleaning and nighttime desserts are available a la carte.
The staff is on duty from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; business hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information, visit www.rowdyspetresort.com or the Rowdy’s Pet Resort Facebook page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 813-512-7192.