by Alex Garland
In the heart of Columbia City, Growlerz Seattle has been bringing tail-wagging joy to dogs and beer-fueled relief to their human counterparts since March 2020. With a focus on building community and canine camaraderie, dogs and their owners find a haven of fun, socialization, and supervised play in the form of dog day care and a play park.
Chelsea, an enthusiastic dog parent, can’t praise it enough, saying, “It’s great! They love him and he has a great time here. He’s always super tired when he comes home.”
During an interview with the Emerald, Caryn Earl, one of the co-owners, demonstrated her passion for Growlerz, dipping out to investigate barks coming from the play park. She’s often making sure owners are taking care of dogs and dogs are behaving. Returning to the interview, Earl smiled, stating, “This place was a dream tucked in a neighborhood, and we’ve been fortunate to have the community’s support.” She emphasized the importance of creating a space where both dogs and their owners feel at home.
New friends Ron, Leslie, and Duffy, devoted patrons of the establishment, have felt at home, echoing the sentiment of a close-knit community. Ron noted how swiftly their dogs became “best buddies,” while Leslie emphasized that their dogs were instrumental in uniting the new group of friends.
Growlerz caters not only to dog owners but also to those who desire the delightful dance of dogs at play. Karl Johnson, one of the co-owners, underlines this point, saying, “You don’t need to have a dog to come in. We have quite a few people that come once a month just to have a dog fix.”
The bar section invites humans and their furry friends to relax and enjoy themselves, serving local beers, warm mulled wine, and a selection of non-alcoholic beverages. To help foster an inviting atmosphere, particularly during the colder months, the outdoor space is equipped with large party tents and propane furnaces, providing comfort for patrons even when the temperature drops. Growlerz also puts on events, like trivia nights and costume contests, that add an extra layer of excitement to the bar.
The bar played a pivotal role during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic, providing a secure outdoor space for people to unwind and socialize while adhering to social distancing norms. And as people increasingly gathered there, that early support from the community was instrumental in helping the Growlerz establishment not only weather uncertain times but also thrive. At this point, it has seven total employees, including the owners.
Beyond day care and the bar, Growlerz is actively pursuing expansion plans. According to Earl, it’s set up a self-wash station and is diligently searching for a full-time groomer, offering an “excellent opportunity for someone looking to establish their grooming business.”
Co-owners Earl and Johnson are determined to not only create a welcoming environment, but a safe one as well. Growlerz keeps electronic records of owners and their dogs, and pets are refused if they don’t meet behavioral standards or requirements. The well-trained staff not only helps people and pets feel valued and important, but staff members are proficient in dog behavior and always ready to step in if any issues arise.
Sarah, a three-year patron of Growlerz, said the space Growlerz provides has been essential. “We live in a small apartment, so she doesn’t have anywhere to run. Having this place nearby where she can go and have playdates with other dogs has been a lifesaver.”
Aaron Boudreau, another happy customer, commented on the vital role Growlerz played during the pandemic: “We were working from home, and it got us out of our house a few days a week to get fresh air and engage with our dog.” And as more people return to the office, Growlerz’s day care options are becoming more popular.
All of these dog owners spoke of how their relationships have blossomed as their dogs have formed lasting friendships. Growlerz is definitely more than a bar — it’s become a valued gathering place for both humans and their canine companions.
Growlerz is open for Dog Day Care from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Play Park is open Monday through Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m., Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. Drop-ins are available for preregistered dogs, with no more than two new dogs at a time to preserve pack dynamics.
Alex Garland is a photojournalist and reporter. With a degree in emergency administration and disaster planning from the University of North Texas, Alex spent his early professional career as a GIS analyst for FEMA. Follow him on Twitter.
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