Dogs have a new home away from home with the opening of Baxter and Beasley, 313 W. Colfax St. The business, which opened in late September, offers canine daycare and boarding, as well as training and grooming.
With a 4,000-square-foot indoor play area, Baxter and Beasley is located in an industrial building that sits right next to the Palatine Metra station’s parking garage. The site is ideal, says owner Mike Daidone. “We have nothing but dog-friendly condominiums and apartments around here.”
Mike has about 25 years experience and has been a professional trainer based on the north side of Chicago for the past 10. Along with his wife, Sharon, Mike was looking to start his own business. The Daidones considered locations across the Chicago area, finally settling on Palatine because their daughters, Jennifer Riordan and Joanna Worthington, live here.
Riordan and Worthington are also part of the business. “We wanted something to pass along to our kids,” Sharon said.
Riordan works the reception desk and also handles the bookkeeping. “Jenny is the most organized person in the whole family,” her sister said. Worthington, who is on maternity leave from an ad agency in Chicago, is in charge of marketing. She created Baxter and Beasley’s distinctive sign and logo, which is also rooted in the family. The business is named for a pair of long-ago family pets, and the logo is the silhouettes of those two dogs.
Worthington also drew up the plans for the reception and retail area before her father could. “If he had his way it would be white cinderblocks and a bulletin board in the front room,” she joked. The retail area stocks dog bowls, hand-crafted leather leashes and Fromm dog food, which Mike considers the best on the market.
Dogs who stay at Baxter and Beasley, whether it be for a day or a week, spend little time in cages. They often are in the play area or, weather permitting, in the 3,000-square-foot, fenced-in outdoor play area behind the building. Dogs play and exercise together under the guidance of handlers that Mike has trained. “They [dogs] need socialization. They need stimulation,” Mike said.
Aside from Daidone family members, Baxter and Beasley has five full-time employees: trainer Kelly Steinhoff, groomer Christopher Sjrema and three handlers, who are certified in CPR and first aid for dogs by the Red Cross. “I was looking for people who were involved in dogs and had a very calm, gentle attitude about them,” Mike said. “I think I hired a great staff.”
The play area at Baxter and Beasley has a rubber floor that is scrubbed and disinfected three times a day. “We’re neat freaks,” Mike said. Baxter and Beasley has been certified and licensed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
The Daidones spent a year preparing to open their business, and in that time news broke about Muddy Paws, the Deer Park dog boarding facility where 34 neglected dogs starved to death. Mike considers it imperative that his customers know their dogs are safe in a secure place with trustworthy caretakers. “I enjoy transparency,” he said. “I tell my customers, ‘You are cordially invited to visit our facility anytime, unannounced.’”
When visitors walk into Baxter and Beasley’s lobby, the first thing they see is an imposing flat-screen monitor behind the desk with security-camera views of every room and hallway where the dogs would be. “I would never let anyone have my dog if I didn’t know what was going on,” Mike said.
Although Baxter and Beasley offers many services to dog owners, training dogs remains Mike’s passion. He is always willing to take on a difficult case. “I like working with aggressive dogs,” he said. “I like rehabilitating them.” Mike works with several animal rescue organizations, including Great Lakes Lab Rescue, Midwest Dachshund Rescue and the West Suburban Humane Society.
Even before it opened, Baxter and Beasley had a waiting list of clients. “The location next to the train station really helped, with commuters coming out [of the garage] and seeing the sign,” Riordan said.
Because the business is family-operated, Baxter and Beasley can be flexible for the customers, Mike said. For instance, if an owner misses his train and will be late picking his dog, someone will be waiting for him (providing he calls). “The biggest thing we have to offer is service,” Mike said.
A full schedule of obedience classes goes into effect Oct. 25. More events to introduce the business to the community will follow, including a “Howl-o-ween” dog costume party Oct. 29 and a pet wellness clinic Nov. 6.
Baxter and Beasley’s family atmosphere is impossible to miss. Sharon especially enjoys spending time with her grandchildren when they bicycle over after school to do their homework. Bringing the family together was one goal of the business. “It’s working out really well,” she said.
The phone number that was originally published in this story was incorrect. The information has been corrected.