Kyle Gillum is a third-generation Okie and the owner and operator of the 9th Street Barking Lot in Oklahoma City. In operation since 2016, 9th Street Barking Lot offers climate-controlled, state-of-the-art facilities to provide a unique indoor/outdoor free-flowing experience for dogs. You can find the 9th Street Barking Lot on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
AM: Describe your journey to making the 9th Street Barking Lot and the Bark Bus.
KYLE: The journey to open the Barking Lot was a long saga involving changing a state law that prohibited dog harboring facilities within 2500 feet of children daycares and/or schools. That fight took almost two years, concluding in 2015. At that point, we began the transformation of our building.
We opened for business in March of 2016. From then on, we have steadily grown. Currently, we average 85 dogs a day in daycare and also provide boarding and grooming services. I felt that a home pick-up/drop-off service would add one more layer to that convenience factor.
Hence the Bark Bus.
The Bark Bus is an idea I have had for a number of years, but I had been waiting for the right vehicle to surface. Right now, we are test running the first ever Bark Bus and working out the logistics. We hope to have full operation by mid-summer.
AM: A lot of people think having a dog is as easy as picking one out and getting supplies – but it is way more than that. What is your advice for a first-time dog owner?
KYLE: Making the decision to bring a dog into one’s world is life-changing. And it is a lot of work. However, if you do your research and find out what you are getting into and what your specific dog breed needs are, it becomes fun. You develop that best friend relationship.
As much as you are training the dog, the dog is training you. Both individuals develop good habits and learn from one another. I always tell people that dogs are a necessity in life; they bring you joy and happiness. And they are always there during tough times.
AM: How should new dog owners approach daycares, groomers and other new services they will need for their dogs?
KYLE: Having an open line of communication with the people that are taking care of your dog/dogs is key. As a dog owner, you need to establish if the people/places you are entrusting to take care of your dog have a candid manner of operating their business. This will allow you to feel comfortable to ask questions on how to give or get the best care for your dog.
AM: How does the Barking Lot help dog-parents become the best dog owners possible for their canine friends?
KYLE: We pride ourselves in honest communication with our dog owners. We don’t wait to let them know if something has happened while on our watch, and we are quick to let them know when their dog has made positive improvements. We also provide training classes by Travis Brorsen, who does a phenomenal job in the training and behavioral world. Like humans, dogs thrive off of a balanced diet, good sleep, and a routine. We aim to educate owners on how to provide that to best enrich their dog's lives.