Photos by Libby Rogers
LoneStar Poochie Palace is a wonderful home away from home for furry animal family members. A short drive into the country off I-45 in Madisonville is a picturesque property with a bright red barn ready to welcome pets of all kinds while the pet owners are away. Some pets visit for the day, while others stay for a month at a time, and pet owners know their beloved companions are in the good hands of business owner Katherine Reed and her animal-loving staff.
“We take all kinds of pets,” said receptionist (and Katherine’s daughter-in-law) Amber Dosey. Amber’s three-year-old son Zane played on the floor with a black miniature schnauzer while Mickey Mouse Clubhouse played in the background. “This is a family place, and our regulars know their pet is happy and safe here.” Amber explained with a smile that this includes dog customers like Bella, “who jumps out of the car when she gets here and has to say hi to everyone and visit each building when she returns.” The facility is truly an animal sanctuary. Along with the rotating kennel guests, Katherine raises schnauzers, takes in rescue dogs, and has chickens, horses, miniature horses, cockatiels, and 12 cats on the property.
LoneStar Poochie Palace has 27 kennels, including 2 family kennels for up to four dogs that prefer to stay together. There is a covered back porch for animals to go outside in inclement weather, and a larger outdoor play area complete with slide, playhouse, and fire hydrant.
“I’ve raised schnauzers for 30 years,” said Katherine. “I believe in schnauzers. My first dog was a schnauzer, and that was it—I was sold.” Aside from raising schnauzers, Katherine worked for many years in various positions, from sales, insurance, with The Huntsville Item, in the lab at Huntsville Adults and Pediatric medicine, and she even worked at a snow cone stand. “I was looking for an opportunity to do more of what I love and work from home, and I had this idea to open a kennel.”
In November 2014, she did just that. “Two weeks after I had the idea, I had the slab poured and made my move,” Katherine said. “All the skills I learned from my previous jobs really prepared me for this. I had customer service experience, I understood sales, and I knew a lot of people. This was a natural extension of what I was already doing.”
The business took off and soon was ready to expand. Katherine shared, “I had great results through Postcards advertising. I intended to put an ad in here and there, but I kept getting calls and ended up doing it every month!” In June 2017, LoneStar Poochie Palace added more kennels and a grooming salon.
Most of their kennel customers choose to have some kind of grooming service while the pet is boarded. Katherine does most of the grooming herself, and she is currently training a second groomer, Mackenzie Renfro. The basics of grooming are of course covered, like a haircut and bath, but pets can also partake in fun extras, like colorful nail painting and “poochie” portraits. Amber is the main photographer, and said that Christmas is their most popular time of year for pet photography. Katherine added, “We do free pictures when you board your dog. Just something fun we like to do!”
LoneStar Poochie Palace also sells some of their favorite pet-related products and brands in the main office, including pet odor eliminating candles, sprays, and car fresheners, all of which keep the kennels smelling great despite the many canine residents. They also carry NuVet Shampoos and dog beds and bowls.
Katherine works long hours with the LoneStar Poochie Palace, getting started at 8:00 am and sometimes staying out as late as 8:00 pm. “I love it, but you have to have your hands in it,” said Katherine. Katherine’s son, Jacob Lucas, works with her on the property. Her brother and a family friend do odd jobs as she needs them done, including the installation of a new swing set for her grandson. Christy Bernosko assists Katherine full time. A Sam Houston State University student works a couple days a week.
Christy has been at the LoneStar Poochie Palace for six months, and loves the friendly environment and repeat poochie visitors. Christy said, “We have three huskies that come quite often, and they are so excited every time they get here! I love it here. I worked in a nursing home for years, and I needed a change. I love animals, so this is a great fit.”
A lot of pride is put into maintaining the facility. Flower baskets hang from the grooming shop. A freshly painted welcome sign on the red barn greets customers. A disinfectant mat at the entrance to every building keeps germs away from the animals. LoneStar Poochie Palace welcomes potential customers to come tour the facility before boarding their pet. Amber said, “Pets are members of the family, and people want to know they are in a good place. So people come to see it and usually are so happy with how clean and friendly everything is, they book their pet’s getaway immediately!”
Katherine also takes a lot of pride in treating people well, both at work and in the community. All of her employees confirmed that she treats them very well, including buying them lunch every Friday. Katherine is on the board for the Texas Mushroom Festival as well, because she loves being involved in the community. “It’s a great time!” Katherine said. “We have craft beer and wine, and everyone gets together. Steve Carter is the president of the festival, and he brings his dogs Willie and Pepper here!”
LoneStar Poochie Palace is open 7 days a week. Tours and appointments can be made by calling them directly at 936-714-2273. They are located at 6499 Halliday Lane in Madisonville, and on Facebook (LoneStarPoochiePalace).