Entrepreneurial spirit lives through granddaughters
By Amanda Stevenson-Holmes // Photography by Tony Vasquez
Dave Dowden loved the work he did and working for himself.
For more than 60 years, Dave owned and developed real estate in Johnson County, especially in the Franklin area. He developed farmland into what is now the Northpointe subdivision, and before all the businesses were there, Commerce Park was Dave’s vision. His pride and joy though — in the real estate business — were the office buildings on Water and Monroe streets where admirers can now appreciate four architecture styles in one property.
All in the Family
Today, his pride and joy, along with his entrepreneurial spirit and family legacy live through his three granddaughters: Kate Kelly, Audrey Schuster and Natalie Squires, who co-own and operate Under One Woof, a popular boarding kennel in Franklin. Audrey and Natalie are sisters, and Kate is their cousin.
“Our mom and her mom are twin sisters,” explained Natalie. Deena Kelly is Kate’s mom, and Teena Roland is Audrey and Natalie’s mom. Deena and Teena are Dave and Nancy Dowden’s daughters, making Kate, Audrey and Natalie Dave’s granddaughters.
They all grew up together, lived near one another, traveled together and even worked together before going into business with
“We’ve always been very close, and it works out great there’s three of us. Three’s a great number because there’s a majority rules with decisions,” said Audrey. “We don’t disagree on too many things but when there’s two that agree, it’s nice because that’s the decision.”
They’ve always loved dogs, with each having multiple dogs of their own (12 dogs between the three of them). And while they worked for other people, including vets and other boarding facilities, they dreamed of owning their own kennel one day.
“With our family all being entrepreneurs, my grandpa threw out ‘would you ever want to own your own business, your own dog kennel?’” Natalie said.
The three agreed yes, and Natalie told her grandfather, “That is the dream.”
“That’s very much how our grandpa was,” shared Audrey. “He’d say, ‘don’t you just want to do it and we can do it,’ and he helped make it happen.”
Dream to Reality
Dave’s real estate development experience and contacts within the area helped identify the kennel property and find the right builders and contractors for the space. Their 15,000-square-foot, state-of-art facility is located on five acres of land in Franklin, near U.S. 31 and not too far from I-65.
“It’s easy to find and enough away from major roadways that it feels safe, yet accessible,” explained Audrey.
Kate added, “Yeah, it feels like we’re in the country, but we’re not.”
The name, Under One Woof, came together easily. With some brainstorming, they knew they wanted something fun, cute and clever.
They also knew they wanted every furry guest to be comfortable and safe. To give each dog privacy and freedom, canine friends get a 4 x 8 indoor living space. Each room is kept at appropriate temperatures regardless of the weather and includes a raised dog bed and access to individual food and water bowls. In addition to private rooms, each pup has their own outdoor “potty area” that’s enclosed for safety.
But don’t let the name fool you, Under One Woof also boards feline friends. In the facility’s cat and kitten corral, each guest gets a three-story condo. The first level of the condo, is a litter box that is filled with recycled paper litter. The second level, is a bedroom with a raised bed to keep kitty friends cool and comfy. The third level of their condo, serves as a dining room with space for food bowls and fresh water.
Each room is also cleaned and sanitized between guest visits to ensure no bacteria is left behind. Kate, Audrey and Natalie even worked with local scientists to develop a cleaning solution that is tailored to their kennel’s specific needs.
“I don’t know what they do, but my dogs run to get in there,” said Lyman Snyder, who along with his wife, Corbie, are faithful Under One Woof customers.
Those interested in boarding should complete a profile, upload pets’ vaccination records and make online reservations at www.underonewooffranklin.com. Kate, Audrey and Natalie recommend booking early.
“We’ve gotten to the point that people who come regularly start booking with us before they even book their vacation,” Audrey said. “They will book their dogs before they even know where they’re going on a trip. They just know they’re going to be gone a certain time and they want to board.”
Bittersweet Happy Dance
Under One Woof opened in August 2020, and sadly Dave died in May 2021.
“He got to see us be busy, back then we had one employee,” Natalie shared. “Now, we have 14 and a waitlist for every major thing that we offer, which was his dream — for us to have a waitlist. Our granny and our moms all say that granddad is doing a happy dance.”
When building the kennel, Dave thought 100 kennels was a lot and Audrey explained, “Granddad would never believe that we’re so busy that we’re turning away business. It’s very humbling.”
In addition to running a successful business, Kate, Audrey and Natalie are busy juggling personal milestones. Last
October, Audrey got married. This past June, Natalie married and this September, Kate will get married. Before he died,
Dave had the opportunity to meet Audrey and Natalie’s spouses and Kate’s future spouse.
“Our grandpa got to meet all of our husbands, and he genuinely loved all of them,” said Natalie.
Kate, Audrey and Natalie — like Dave — are always there for each other, the dogs and their families.
And while Dave remains a larger-than-life influence and inspiration in their lives, Kate, Audrey and Natalie also give enormous credit to their grandmother, Nancy.
“She advocates for us in every single way,” shared Audrey. This advocacy includes telling everyone she knows about her granddaughters, their kennel and how proud she is of them.
“I’m doing what he would have done,” said Nancy, as she helps to continue Dave’s legacy with their granddaughters.