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Dog's Best Friend
This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
The Palumbos with children (from left) Morgan, age 8, named for the late Travis Morgan ’96; Autumn, 6; and Guy Jr., 5.
Penne puttanesca and a lovable boxer puppy pointed the way to a new career for Rena (Parker) and Guy Palumbo.
Married several years after their 1995 graduation, the pair moved to Washington state and settled into corporate life — Guy at Amazon.com and Rena at Classmates.com. After several years, they knew that cubicles and conference calls just weren’t their style.
“My last few years in corporate America were unfulfilling,” says Guy. “Rena and I always knew that we would open a business one day, so we started brainstorming plans on napkins at our favorite Italian restaurant.”
Two years and hundreds of napkins later, they opened Roscoe’s Ranch dog kennel in Snohomish, Wash. The inspiration for their business plan was a young boxer they had adopted from the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). He arrived at their home severely underweight and suffering with mange.
“Roscoe helped us find our calling in life,” says Rena, who developed a special home-cooked diet to help restore his health. “He was more than a companion to us.”
Accordingly, Roscoe’s Ranch is more than a standard kennel. Each dog gets a raised bed and some 80 square feet of recreation space. A separate group of “luxury cottages” are equipped with heat, stereos, security systems and skylights.
“The cottages are innovative in terms of design. They don’t exist anywhere else,” says Guy, noting the lack of well-maintained, personalized kennels they had discovered in trying to board Roscoe.
The Palumbos have since found many likeminded people who are willing to spend some extra money for creature comforts. In fact, several clients rent the cottages in yearly increments to guarantee their spot at all times.
Beyond skylights and stereos, the kennel’s most important differentiator is a warm and human touch, according to the couple.
“We’re keeping it small and personal,” Rena says of the 20 kennels and four cottages that make up Roscoe’s Ranch. “Commercial competitors in the area house 180-plus kennels.”
Although Roscoe passed away in August 2010, Guy and Rena honor his legacy by donating a portion of kennel proceeds to PAWS and other charities.
“I am a huge fan of Theodore Roosevelt’s words, ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,’” says Rena. “With Roscoe’s, we decided to take the first step and give everything we had, even though it was a seemingly small contribution. Now, our work has added up and we’ve been able to see a real impact in our community.”
The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.