Our branches will be closed on Wednesday, June 19 in observance of Juneteenth.





Members like Three Dog Ranch

A former military veteran and his wife have created a canine heaven for grooming, day (or play) care, and boarding, and they’re changing everything we know about investing in your employees.

It’s a Dog’s Life…And it’s Oh-So-Pampered

 

“[Dogs] are family members for people—and sometimes the only family they have…”

 

 

“Flathead, it’s primarily small business,” says Salsgiver. “When all the tourists leave, we have to rely on one another.”

 

Whitefish, Montana, is a resort town for four months a year, filled with tourists and visitors. For the folks on vacation, it’s a chance to break away from their lives, experience a little wilderness, adventure, and even a little luxury. From gourmet wilderness tours to upscale, all-the-perks accommodations, tourists can rough it—or not—as they wish.

So why shouldn’t man’s best friend get some of that five-star treatment, too?

Well, the truth is, dogs can. From grooming to daycare to boarding, there’s a place where dogs get a little extra spoiling…and they’re in luck because, at the Three Dog Ranch, today is Bubble Day.

“Bubble Day is fun because the dogs, they lose their minds on Bubble Day,” says Stephanie Juneau, who, along with her husband Ken Salsgiver, co-owns Three Dog Ranch. But these aren’t just any bubbles, no sir. These are delicious bubbles—in peanut butter and bacon flavors.  

 

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“Our dogs are way more spoiled than our kids ever were.”

 

Portrait-1-v2.png“Our dogs are way more spoiled than our kids ever were,” says Juneau. “And so I think they’re like the grandchildren in, you know, the hierarchy of the family. You raise your kids strictly, and you spoil your grandkids rotten. Well, I kinda feel like that about our dog guests. These are family members for people—and sometimes the only family they have—so for us to be entrusted with their care, it’s a lot of responsibility that’s very humbling. We’ve had dogs in here for a month at a time because, unfortunately, a family member’s been ill, so those are deep relationships. We truly feel like their home.”

And their clients seem to agree. From a near-five-star rating on Google to glowing reviews, business is booming. For locals, it’s a chance to get their pet taken care of while they’re ill or away, looked after while at work, and the place to bring Fido for a glow-up or a bit of a trim. For visitors, it means their beloved pets are looked after during day trips and adventures which aren’t always 100 percent doggo-friendly.

It also means that the ranch is run—from an operational standpoint—efficiently and with care. For Juneau and Salsgiver, it’s a point of pride.

“We chart virtually everything,” says Juneau. “It seems a little extreme, but we chart food, we chart medications, we chart eliminations for some dogs, we chart hydration for dogs. Honestly, I don’t know how we would be successful—and sane—and have clients who are pleased without having that level of operational detail and control. And it’s doubled since we purchased it, so that has put infrastructure pressure and us pressure just to keep that same exact level of standard.”

But that eye for detail isn’t surprising. Aside from over three decades of dog experience—including working with rescues, service dogs, and shelters—there’s a heavy logistical background. Juneau comes from the world of commercial and corporate banking, and Salsgiver is ex-military.

“For those who’ve ever seen The Wizard of Oz—that guy behind the curtain, you’ll it away, and he’s pulling all these cables—that’s like this here.”

That experience means he’s an admitted “stickler” for structure. But as anyone who has served—or has loved ones who have served—will tell you, leaving the military is a major adjustment, and not everyone comes through it. It’s not just saying goodbye to a job but an entire life filled with people who are as close (or in some cases closer) than family. And given the enormity and, in many cases, traumas of their experiences overseas or on tour…that can change a person, and trying to fit back into “normal” life is hard, if not impossible. Aside from PTSD, veterans can experience a whole host of effects, ranging from physical (injuries, hearing loss, and illness from exposure to toxins) to emotional (depression, anxiety) and financial and professional obstacles.

Salsgiver faced some hefty challenges…and the dogs gave him back some of that sense of self.

“After coming out of the military and making the transition,” he says, “and dealing with the civilian world—”

“Humans,” interjects Juneau, and they both laugh.

 

“For me, working with the dogs is therapeutic for sure. It just allows me to get out of my head."

 

“Yeah. It was a little tough,” says Salsgiver, his face quickly growing serious. “For me, working with the dogs is therapeutic for sure. It just allows me to get out of my head. Coming out of the military, I preferred getting on my motorcycle and riding because it’s just me in my bubble.”

“He’s an interesting character,” says Juneau and laughs. “He is an introvert. We don’t go to Disneyland, we don’t go to big crowds, but he has a really ingrained sense of customer care.”

 

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And it’s this joyful but structured approach—peppered with a lot of puppy love and spoiling (not to mention pats and scritches)— seems to be the foundation for Three Dog Ranch. There’s time for play and time for rubs, but there’s also time for eating and rest. And for the ranch’s owners, it gives them the basis for running the business not only as efficiently as it can without (ahem) going to the dogs, but to attract and retain the incredible employees who help them to maintain their pristine reputation.

“My wheelhouse is really the small to mid-sized companies,” admits Salsgiver. “To me, they’re more nimble. They’re more intimate. They listen to their people better.”

Juneau agrees. “You’re gonna come to work, and you’re doing something you’re more passionate about—or you’re more apt to. You’re gonna come with your A-game.”

This approach to investing in their employees sets them apart the most. For Juneau and Salsgiver, it’s not simply a matter of running a business, having a great reputation, and getting good reviews. That business needs to serve and support the community. They’ve partnered with Whitefish Credit Union (“It’s good to have a partner that not only does the banking side with deposits but also on the lending side, too”). They also believe that one of the best ways to run a successful business and prop up the community is by investing in their own: in their staff’s education. It’s an arrangement that benefits everyone.

 

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 “We really look at the talent and say, ‘Where is your passion and your skillset?’” says Juneau. “So then we take that passion and say, ‘Ok, so what segment of the business can we put education into that gets you to the next level?’ It’s an investment in them, but it pays dividends to us. Because the more educated our staff is, the better able we are to serve the clients and do it right. Our whole community needs these young people to be the next leaders.”

“Flathead, it’s primarily small business,” says Salsgiver. “When all the tourists leave, we have to rely on one another.”

Wanna give your pooch a little extra love and spoiling? Check out Three Dog Ranch’s services here.

 

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