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Cutbacks give kennel new life

Jonathon Brostowitz throws a tennis ball for Bella the golden retriever while Chelsea Berger watches Friday at Countryside Boarding Kennels in Solon Springs. Brostowitz and Berger have built up a loyal client base since opening in November. Customers appreciate their attention to detail and love of animals. (Maria Lockwood)

From the hoarse coughs of excited Pomeranians and the wag of a Beagle’s tail to the lighting dash of a golden retriever pursuing a ball, Friday morning was a mass of activity at Countryside Boarding Kennels in Solon Springs. In a suite near the front door, a pair of felines and a Dutch rabbit named Franklin relaxed as new arrivals walked past.

Lois Whitmer’s three dogs are regulars at Countryside.

“I wouldn’t take them anywhere else for boarding,” the Gordon woman said.

Her Pomeranians Ringo and Miss Edie basked in the attention as former kennel owner Diane McKee brushed and trimmed their fur Friday.

“The puppies are happy here,” Whitmer said. “If they weren’t happy here, I wouldn’t be happy here.”

Business owners Jonathon Brostowitz and Chelsea Berger take great care of the dogs, she said, and they let them out four times a day. She appreciates knowing her dogs get to stretch their legs one final time between 8 and 9 p.m.

The kennel on South Ellen Smith Road swung back into operation in November after a nearly two-year hiatus. For Brostowitz, the move was a homecoming of sorts. His parents helped build the kennels in 1997.

“He was a little gopher,” McKee said. They could tell he had an entrepreneurial spirit when the 11-year-old offered to cut their grass for $20 an hour.

Facing possible cutbacks at his fulltime job with the county, Brostowitz was searching for a way to make ends meet. He settled on reviving the kennel, which had lain dormant for about two years.

“It’s come full circle,” said McKee, who lives next door.

The couple has a knack for working with their furry clients.

“They’re good with them, they play with them,” said Heidi Babcock of Wascott. “You can just see they love animals.”

Berger’s greatest joy is playing with the dogs and getting to know their individual personalities.

“She’ll crawl right in the kennels and cuddle up with the puppies,” Brostowitz said. He enjoys the social aspect of the business, meeting new people and getting to know returning customers.

“I love when the phone rings,” he said.

The kennel’s flexible schedule initially attracted Babcock, who often travels out of the area with her husband on business. They were so happy with the kennel that their dogs Boone and Bella have become frequent visitors.

“They are willing to work with us and attentive to our needs,” Babcock said. They even provide a detailed report on the stay, something Brostowitz calls their “puppy report card.” And Babcock knows an immediate update is just a phone call away.

“I can call day or night to check on them,” she said. She always gets a response. Sometimes the kennel owners will go “above and beyond” by sending a picture or a video of them.

Countryside Kennel is rooted in five acres of pine forest in the village of Solon Springs along what could be called “dog alley.” Six Gun Kennel dog training is just down the road. Next-door neighbor McKee drops by to groom clients and visit.

The kennel offers boarding, daycare and full grooming services. Owners can also sign up for dog training classes through the business. Countryside Kennels has 22 kennels for canines and two cat condos as well as a suite that can be outfitted for dogs or cats. The building boasts in-floor heat and air conditioning. Dogs get to exercise in a 3,000 square foot play yard four times a day. The day they opened, Berger and Brostowitz had one client. Their roster over the weekend totaled 23 animals. Word of mouth has helped increase their client base, as happy owners share their experiences.

“It’s a great feeling to know they trust us to take care of their pets,” Brostowitz said.

Countryside Boarding Kennels is at 11316 S. Ellen Smith Road in Solon Springs. To set up a visit or reservation, call 715-378-2503 or email The kennel is open 8-11 a.m., 4-5 p.m. and 8-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 8-9 a.m., 4-5 p.m. and 8-9 p.m. Sunday. More information can also be found on the business’ Facebook page, Countryside Boarding Kennels.