Your dog is family, but working from home can be tough for both of you — dividing your attention between your furry little bundle of joy and work responsibilities.
Enter Work & Woof, a combined doggy daycare and co-working space, is truly the first of its kind. Located in South Austin, the company grew tremendously as it approached its 5-year anniversary, with the increase in remote workers and pet adoptions over the last couple of years. What started as thoughtful dog care with a remote work environment has grown into a community-based center for dog parents to work, play and make sure their pups are having the best time.
When Work & Woof owner Jill Dretzka adopted a pup just months after relocating to Austin, she realized there was a gap in top-notch pet care that also catered to the type of doting dog parent who wants to spend their day alongside their pet. Amidst trying to find a balance between pet care and a space for remote work, Work & Woof was born.
“When I moved to Austin in 2017 from a 3-year stint in Chicago, I was trying to replicate my work experience in a co-working space, but I was also the new mom to a 1-year-old Australian Kelpie,” Dretzka says. “Trying to find a balance in my work and personal life is what led to me to create Work & Woof.”
Work & Woof’s co-working space includes closed-door office areas alongside an indoor dog park and doggy daycare. They’re completely crate- and kennel-free, allowing dogs to have half or full days of play, with plenty of nap breaks. They also offer basic grooming services on-site for the pups and enrichment sessions with their small staff of dog trainers. Monthly themed photoshoots are also available if you want to capture some memories.
While working next to a room full of excited dogs sounds like a blast, it also sounds, well, loud. Dretzka’s regular members describe it the way only a dog parent would — sometimes pups can be heard in the background of a Zoom call, but they just explain where they are and move on. A regular Work & Woof member, Erin Morrison, says the greatest distraction is “occasionally being distracted by a cute puppy.”
This space has provided a service to not only pups in Dretzka’s care but also to local dog lovers looking for connection and pet parent advice. First-time dog owner Haverly Damon says Work & Woof has been an irreplaceable part of her pet parent experience since she has plenty of access to dog trainers and other great resources.
“Coworkers chat with each other, and I visit with other dog owners,” Damon says. “It’s a positive and pleasant environment to be in, (even) before you add in the dogs.”
Aside from all the fun, though, Work & Woof is dedicated to giving back to the community, as they’re active year-round in their work to support local dog rescues and shelters. The pandemic gave Dretzka a perspective shift on what the business could do for the community, which has led to countless donation drives to help others throughout Austin.
“We are way more community-focused than I ever thought about before I opened,” Dretzka says. “(…) COVID helped me realize what was going to work for us and what we needed to leave behind to succeed.”
Dretzka’s vision for a co-working space built for dog people, by dog people, has grown into an incredible community, both within the space and beyond. What started out as a unique idea has proved to be endlessly valuable in a dog-friendly city like Austin.
While there are no concrete future plans, Dretzka would love to expand and thinks the concept could work in any metropolitan area.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else. I am so passionate about assisting parents and our pet community here in Austin,” Dretzka says. “As long as the community has us and is willing to give us a chance, we will be here to serve.”
Interested in trying out Work & Woof? Check them out online at workandwoofatx.com or on Instagram @workandwoofatx.
About the Author
Sarah Leahy, CPT is a Minneapolis transplant in East Austin, certified personal trainer, award-winning interior designer and former gym owner. She offers in-person and online training with an emphasis on strength training and building confidence in and out of the gym. Leahy’s passion for strength extends to your business, with a full offering of gym design and business consulting services.