Rex & Relax LLC is bringing a traditionally outdoor experience indoors for Spokane dogs and their owners.
The indoor dog park opened last week in the former Wheel Sport space, at 1711 N. Division.
In addition to 1,200 square feet of dog park space, there is also 1,200 square feet of "picnic" space, where owners can grab a snack or drink while their canine companions play.
“We want to cater mostly to the dog experience, but who’s bringing the dogs in?" asks Sarah Thames, who co-owns Rex & Relax with her mom, Michelle Davis. "Having this picnic side allows us to form relationships with our customers.”
Rex & Relax currently offers prepackaged snacks for dog owners, including chips, candy, and locally made baked goods, as well as soda, coffee, and water.
The new establishment soon will add canned alcoholic beverages, like beer and hard seltzer, when it receives its liquor license, which it expects to occur in the next month or two, Thames says. She plans to reach out to local breweries for potential collaboration.
“It’s really cool to support local as you’re growing into your own local business,” Thames says.
Dogs also can get the party started at Rex & Relax with house-made dogaritas—bowls of blended chicken broth ice cubes, carrots, blueberries, and turmeric, with crushed dog treats lining the rims. The company also sells a variety of locally made dog treats and merchandise.
Patrons of the dog park also are encouraged to bring in outside food from nearby restaurants, she adds.
Rex & Relax is named after Davis' Australian shepherd, Rex, who also helped inspire the idea for an indoor dog park.
Rex had an abundance of energy when he was a puppy, and Davis, who worked remotely at the time, wished there was a way to run off some of that energy while she worked, Thames says.
“We need a spot where people can come work inside and allow their dog to run, even if it’s snowing or raining outside,” says Thames.
The co-owners then researched indoor dog parks and reached out to some in Seattle before deciding to bring the idea east to Spokane.
Ensuring a safe and healthy environment is a top priority at Rex & Relax, Thames says.
Owners are required to provide proof of vaccinations for their dogs, including for rabies, DHPP, bordetella, and influenza, Thames says. Dogs must be 6 months or older to play at the dog park, and dogs over a year old have to be spayed or neutered.
Due to recent reports of an unknown respiratory virus, dogs also are checked for any symptoms resembling kennel cough, Thames says.
“We want to ensure that this space remains safe and clean and healthy,” she says. “We talked to so many shelters and vets, and we felt safe with all of our requirements."
Rex & Relax is sanitized daily, and owners are asked to clean up their dogs' accidents.
Employees at the dog park, also known as bark rangers, perform an assessment of each dog's body language, checking to see how they'll react to the environment, as many are excited or nervous when they arrive, Thames says.
Rex & Relax currently has four bark rangers, including Thames and Davis.
A double-gate system is installed, separating the dog park area from the picnic area and entrance, preventing dogs from sneaking out when the gate opens.
Owners are asked to keep an eye on their dogs while they're on the picnic side, although they're welcome to be in the dog park area. A Rex & Relax employee always is present in the dog park area, Thames says.
Dogs can hang out in the picnic area with their owners as long as they're leashed, she adds.
Thames says she plans to continue expanding the space, adding a small-dog park and self-grooming stations to the currently unused portion of the building. Thames also envisions adding a splash pad in a yard behind the building.
Rex & Relax charges $20 for one dog, and $10 for each additional dog to have all-day access to the dog park. It is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday.
Spokane-based coffee company Wake Up Call opened its newest location earlier this month at 445 W. Cherry Lane, in Coeur d'Alene, next to a Texas Roadhouse restaurant. Since opening its first coffee shop in 2004, Wake Up Call now has 29 locations across Spokane, Coeur d'Alene, Tri-Cities, and Walla Walla, Washington.
A new tattoo shop and artist co-op is opening in downtown Spokane this month, at 830 W. Sprague, across the street from the Davenport Hotel. Heartbreaker Tattoo & Artist Co-op couples a tattoo parlor with a retail storefront for local artists to connect with customers, the company's website says.
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