For Jeremy King, his life has gone to the dogs. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Together with his business partner, Ryan Wolk, King owns The Watering Bowl. Located at 7409 S. Lindbergh Blvd., at the corner of Lindbergh and Lemay Ferry Road, The Watering Bowl has quickly grown into one of Mehlville’s most beloved businesses.
“We opened last February,” King said. “For the first two weeks we were open, we didn’t make even one dollar.”
But thanks to some swift social media marketing and some good old-fashioned pavement pounding, the word rapidly spread about the new company that is in the business of keeping your canine company. In fact, according to King, since The Watering Bowl has opened its doors, enrollment has climbed to an average of about 45 dogs a day.
“People hear doggy day care, and they immediately think it’s a foo-foo rich thing that people do for their poodles,” King said. “But it’s a real service, and there is a real need for it. Peoples’ lives are busy with work, kids, social lives, extracurricular activities, etc. Socialization for dogs, to some people, sounds kind of silly, but it’s important. Dogs are pack animals.”
While King and Wolk have recognized that people have a need for outside canine companionship, for them, being with man's best friend has been a way of life.
They both grew up in the country; King in Cuba, MO and Wolk in Ste. Genevieve, MO.
“We always had dogs, and we were always running and playing and going out in the field with our dogs. Dogs have always been a part of our lives,” King said.
After attending Missouri State University in Springfield, they both moved to St. Louis for work. King landed a position in finance with Morgan Stanley.
“We were still taking our dogs out,” King said. “But we kind of came to the realization that a lot of dogs were not getting the exercise and socialization they needed just because people didn’t have the time. “
After a couple of years, he had decided to go into the family motor home business.
“I was intending to take over that business until we started talking about this,” King said.
And so began the process of opening The Watering Bowl, a place that King describes as his “fortress of solitude.”
“I just love being around dogs,” he said. “I’d rather be here working twice as much for half as much. This place just makes me happy.”
For King, a happy escape is a welcome place given the state of his life back in Cuba.
“This past summer, my little brother was killed,” King said reluctantly. “He was 26 years old, and it was in our small town. There’s a big trial going on as a result, and everything is centered around this.”
So, for King, walking into The Watering Bowl and being greeted by wagging tails is refuge that helps him cope.
“You just can’t help but smile when a dog comes running at you with his tail wagging, and he’s thumping and jumping on you. It’s just a happy place,” he said.
He’s careful to point out that the rewards are even greater than puppy pleasure and a booming business.
Helping dogs find a way to fit in has its own rewards.
“We deal with rescues a lot. The coolest thing for me is to see somebody bring in their dog that isn’t that good around other dogs and may even be a little intimidated,” King said. “After a few hours, or a few visits, the dog slowly starts sniffing around... and then starts playing and wrestling. The next thing you know, you can tell the dog is having the time of his life.
“I mean, you can train and teach and show a dog a lot of things, but the pack is gonna teach it a lot more, a lot faster than any of us can. It’s super rewarding to see that.”
As far as the stability of The Watering Bowl, King says that all things are going according to plan.
At the time of this interview, plans were in the works to expand to 24-hour boarding. Starting Friday, that goal will become a reality.
Other future plans include more stores. King says they currently have their eye on a Kirkwood location to open by the year’s end.
“It’s a good thing for the dogs and it’s a good thing for the owners,” King said. “They don’t have a dog bouncing off the walls because we have taken care of it for them.”
Customer Samantha Higgins posted the following comment on the Facebook page: “Took all three of our dogs today, Bailey, Jake and our newest, Lane. They all came home and are sleeping. I think TWB is a great place to take your dogs for a fun time.”
This is just one of the many positive comments you will find on The Watering Bowl’s page.
To learn more about The Watering Bowl and their team of dedicated professionals, visit their website at www.thewateringbowl.com or call 314-892-8779.