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Photo: The Dog Society welcomes dogs and humans, by Charie Juaneza.

March 8, 2022 (Rolando) --The Dog Society, a new human-dog hangout spot that is part sports bar, part dog boarder, part restaurant, and part family-friendly fun, enjoyed its grand opening on February 25. 

The unique business located at 6331 University Ave in the Rolando Village area of San Diego, just east of La Mesa, is the brainchild of owner Sara Broetje.

“Basically, I love dogs and I love hanging out with my friends watching football, and I love drinking craft beer so I wanted to smash it all together,” she said.

Cameron Gomez, the director of marketing for The Dog Society, said that when they were trying to get their business permit, the business’s unique offerings caused delays with the City of San Diego.

“The city didn’t know how to categorize us because no one had ever done it before,” said Gomez. 

Not surprising seeing as how when you walk in, to the right is a children’s play area and several mini golf holes, while to the left is a wine and beer bar, full-service restaurant (including vegan and vegetarian options), coffee bar, and retro Arcade Classics game. At the bar, visitors will find 12 local beers on tap along with four hard ciders, four types of kombucha, a hard kombucha, and cold brew coffee.

Photo: Pool, shuffleboard and corn hole are just some of the games for humans, by Charie Juaneza.

In the rear of the building is shuffleboard, corn hole, and a pool table. All this surrounded by 35 TVs that can be turned to anything from sports to The Simpsons by request. 

That’s just the inside portion of the top floor. There’s also a large outdoor deck near the restaurant and everywhere dog owners will find short orange leashes bolted to the floor to secure their dogs. 

Downstairs, visitors will find the beer garden that can be rented out for special events as well as a back room ideal for events like birthday parties. 

On the ground floor is also where the doggy daycare, dog grooming, three indoor and three outdoor play areas, and boarding areas are, which includes three San-Diego themed private suites. One of the main perks of the private suites is access to a live feed allowing owners to check in one their pooches virtually anytime.

Photo: The Coronado Island private suite is one of three available for boarding, by Charie Juaneza.

Doggy daycare is included with boarding, which is one of the reasons why employees do a 2-4 hour long temperament assessment on new dogs to ensure they will get along with others in the play area. 

Broetje and Gomez explained that at this time dogs who do not pass the temperament screening will not be boarded because they don’t want dogs sitting in a kennel alone all day. In the future, if they have more staffing to ensure the dogs who don’t pass would get frequent walks, they’ll consider changing the policy. 

Currently, The Dog Society has 45 employees, some of them in vet tech school, so they feel comfortable boarding dogs who may have special needs or require medication. 

It is not a requirement to have a dog to work at or visit The Dog Society. Gomez shared a heart-warming tale of observing a man who came in alone and worked on his laptop on the deck overlooking the play area. Just before he left, he told Gomez and Broetje that his dog had recently passed away and he didn’t have the living space to get another. He found being near the dogs a comforting experience, said Gomez. 

Besides the classification issue while getting their permit, The Dog Society’s ability to open was also negatively impacted by Covid-19. Broetje said the business could’ve had their grand opening a year ago if it weren’t for the pandemic. 

Broetje signed a lease for the space in January 2020, just before the country began to change due to the novel coronavirus. She then had a hard time getting renovations done to what had once been a furniture store. She explained that for one thing contractors kept getting sick. The inability to talk to people in person and delays in finding materials were also issues. She finally obtained the permit in January 2022. 

However, she was able to open the downstairs area in March 2021 to board dogs and for doggy daycare. Even then, changing Covid-related policies shut them down for six weeks. This left many of their customers in dire straits, which included many first responders and nurses who were often working up to 16 hour days, said Broetje.

Before opening The Dog Society, Broetje ran The Pooped Puppy offering dog boarding but outgrew the nearby location. Gomez said that transitioning the dogs from the old business to the new was “pretty seamless.”

The Dog Society is gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day and is already offering St. Patrick’s day-themed doggy photo shoots to grooming clients. Future events may include singles events for dog lovers and adoption events. 

For more information, visit The Dog Society’s website.

SJ Miller

SJ is a novelist, columnist, and creator of the hilarious webcomic Sadie the Sneak. In addition to chronicling Animal Tales in East County, SJ will also share her personal animal “tails” of torbie cat Sadie-Rose and poodle mix Annabelle. Follow their adventures on Facebook, InstagramTwitter, and SnapChat.

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