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Owner of doggy daycare celebrates 70 (dog) years in business

Gordon Vittig, owner of Animal Magnetizm, is nearly dog-piled by a bunch of furry friends. - Photo courtesy of Animal Magnetizm
Gordon Vittig, owner of Animal Magnetizm, is nearly dog-piled by a bunch of furry friends.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Animal Magnetizm

Thirteen years ago, Animal Magnetizm owner Gordon Vittig was working as  a real estate agent in California.

It goes without saying his life has taken some turns since then.

Fast forward to today, Animal Magnetizm celebrates 70 dog years — 10 human years — of being a dog daycare and a place “where a dog can be a dog.”

“I realized I couldn’t remember homes unless they had pets, and I said, ‘Okay, it’s time to do something else,’” Vittig said.

So he packed his bags and embarked on an adventure that had him working in restaurants in between taking to the road.

He and his then girlfriend traveled in their Volkswagen camper van from California south to Florida then back around to the Pacific Northwest in search of the best spot to open a doggy daycare facility.

It was by chance they landed on Bainbridge Island.

With their own pets in tow, the two were on their way back down to California from Victoria, where they looked into starting the doggy business outside the U.S. It was the last stretch of the tour.

Instead of taking the typical route through Seattle, they opted for the scenic drive.

“We were coming into Winslow at around twilight, and I thought, ‘What a cool little town,’” Vittig said.

He never left.

For the first few years, he continued to work at restaurants in the area to get his feet on the ground. It was a struggle, and he had almost no capital coming in.

Then, in the same month that he lost his living space at Cottingham Farm, he came across a sign half buried in the ground that advertised commercial and storage space off of Miller Road.

There, Vittig found a third of an acre commercial property that extended down a hill and into woodlands. There was even a dog door that led to the outside of the building. It was the perfect place and good timing.

He had just enough money to put up a fence and make it his temporary home until he could find clients.

In 2003, he officially opened Animal Magnetizm for business. His first customer was Elvis, a 25-pound mutt that he took care of from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. almost every day.

“We had to take whatever we could when we started,” Vittig explained.

Now, Vittig says, he averages about 25 dogs a day that he keeps on a schedule of play time and nap time. Each new dog goes through a free two-hour evaluation where Vittig can assess how he or she does with the others.

Play time means unlocking the gates to the woodsy hillside and allowing them to run free together. Animal Magnetizm, Vittig explains, is a place where owners can rest easy knowing that when they’re away during the day their dog is still getting consistent supervision and stimulation by interacting with other dogs.

Neighbors to the daycare may not even realize there are so many dogs just behind their property. Aside from hearing hundreds of paws on the compact dirt and the occasional playful growl, the hillside remains quiet. With consistency and time-outs, Vittig keeps the barking to a minimum.

In celebration of their 70 dog years on Bainbridge, Vittig will be offering one free day of daycare for new dogs through September. He will also be offering discounts for existing clients.

Visit animalmagnetizm.com or call 206-780-3960 for more information on hours and rate packages.

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