Special K9 Dog Training & Country Resort Receives Small Business Award

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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The Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce is proud to award the June Small Business Award to Special K9 Dog Training & Country Resort owned by Jenny Oberhelm.

What began as a childhood passion, Jenny has built it into a successful enterprise, creating a unique and impactful business in our community.

Jenny's journey with Special K9 Dog Training & Country Resort began long before she opened her doors. Growing up in a family that owned a dog training and boarding facility, Jenny’s first job involved scooping poop and cleaning bowls. Her true calling emerged at the tender age of four, when she started working with an aggressive basset hound under her mother’s guidance. By eight, she was competing nationally in dog agility with her German Shepherd, and by twelve, she reached the AKC national finals, competing against adults from across the country.

Despite attending junior college and Sterling College, Jenny never strayed far from her passion. She would often bring dogs back to school to work with them, and her dog Draco even became a familiar face on campus. Encouraged by her father, Jenny branched out on her own, opening Special K9 Dog Training, initially focusing on board and train dogs. Her business quickly grew, leading her to expand her services and facilities.

By 2019, the need for expansion was clear, prompting Jenny to build a second kennel, increasing their capacity from 18 to 40 runs. Among her proudest achievements is the formation of Special K9 Therapy Heroes United, a therapy dog group with nearly 30 members. This group has brought joy and comfort to nursing homes, hospice houses, hospitals, and even police and fire departments. Stories of the impact these therapy dogs have made, such as encouraging engagement from an autistic boy or lifting the spirits of a depressed father, are a testament to the meaningful work Jenny and her team do.

Jenny’s vision extends beyond her current location. Inspired by her late father’s dream of expansion, she aims to open new facilities across the state, ensuring more people can benefit from her services. Special K9's unique offerings, such as a doggy daycare bus service started in honor of her father, set them apart from others in Reno County.

Like many businesses, Special K9 faced significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with the boarding side of the business. However, Jenny’s adaptability and the bus service for doggie daycare helped sustain the business. Finding the right employees has been another challenge, but Jenny’s commitment to thorough training and team building has resulted in a dedicated and passionate team.

Special K9’s community involvement is extensive, with their therapy dog visits and partnerships with organizations like AA Place for Dogs and Family Promise. They also support numerous local fundraising events and rescue groups. Jenny believes in forming partnerships to make a positive impact on the community.

Category: SBA