This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Ed Kaczmarek co-owner of Urban Pooch Canine Life Center located at 4501 N. Ravenswood. The Canine Life Center offers a large store, daycare, cageless boarding, grooming, bathing, and massage. Ed is also the co-owner of Urban Pooch Training and Fitness Center located at 5400 N. Damen which offers retail and training, including agility. Whether you have two legs or four, one thing is for certain, when you enter Urban Pooch, you must love dogs.
“Andersonville, to me, felt like the perfect Chicago neighborhood: clean, safe and so much character”
– Ed Kaczmarek
Listen to Episode 31 with Ed!
Here are some references from Episode 31 that you may want to check out:
- Ed was the former Director of Innovation and Customer Experience at Kraft. He moved to Chicago from New York City to work for Kraft in a variety of positions and worked with brands that included Oreo, Caprisun, and Maxwell House, among others.
- Ed was traveling 97% of the time for work and became tired of flying and the stress levels of traveling all the time. Along with his husband Dan, they started down the path of opening their own dog training facility, inspired by their dog, Berwyn. While it took several years, they finally received funding from Chase and opened the Canine Life Center in in 2010.
- Interestingly enough, while working in New York, Ed worked on NYC Pet Project: A Collection of Portraits and Letters from the Heart, a book that involved photographing people in their favorite setting accompanied by a letter they had written to their pet. This also helped to inspire and grow his love for the human and dog connection.
- Now that Ed and Dan live on the northern edge of Andersonville, they never want to leave after transitioning from living in New York City. “I just feel like I struck gold,” comments Ed on the ease of living in Chicago in general.
- When it comes to training, the one thing Ed believes in is positive reinforcement, he doesn’t believe training dogs should be done with any negative means.
- Using his experience as Director of Innovation, Ed and Dan have flipped the training system on it’s side and designed a program called Urban Pooch Levels, a gym membership-style program that allows clients to be more flexible with classes for their dogs. Ed says that the greatest challenge with training dogs is following up and reinforcing with your dog the behavior that they are learning, and the levels system allows for reinforcement at any time.
- The top four reasons why people come specifically to Urban Pooch is for puppyhood training, barking, on and off-leash aggression, and anxiety.
- Urban Pooch offers Puppy Playtime every Saturday. “There is nothing more joyous than being with 15 puppies where the only thing on their mind is having fun.” Urban Pooch also has a course for puppies called Junior Dog, meant to be a transitional class for dogs in between the puppyhood class and the adult obedience class. Information on available classes for puppies can be found on the Urban Pooch website.
- If your dog is having problems, like excessive chewing, the biggest advice Ed has is to give them another task or “job of the body and mind.” Ed mentions sessions with their dog behaviorist, Karen Okura, who is especially skilled in this department. Get to know the rest of the training staff at Urban Pooch.
- This winter, Urban Pooch plans on training dogs on how to pull sleds!
- On dog etiquette, Ed believes dogs should always be on a leash, but that owners should pay attention to their dog too! Put down the phone, don’t ignore them. In particular, be careful at dog parks and the dog beach.
“ Your dog loves your attention. They want to connect with you. They want your attention.”
– Ed Kaczmarek
- Ed and Dan’s dog, Berwyn, is the official “CEO” of Urban Pooch. He is an 11-year-old Welsh Terrier from an Amish Farm in central Illinois.
- Ed and Berwyn are featured prominently in the 2018-19 Neighborhood Guide. The photos were shot during an agility course demo with Berwyn. View the full publication here.
- If given the chance, Ed would switch places with Roost (5634 N. Clark) because Urban Pooch has used reclaimed artifacts from their store. The other establishment Ed would switch places with is Octavio (5310 N. Clark) because of how social it seems and the history of the building.
Urban Pooch is hosting their annual HOWL-O-WEEN party on Thursday, October 25! Dogs and owners are invited to attend in costume and a professional photographer will be on hand to snap a photo before the contest begins. Registration kicks off at 6:30PM! Learn more here.