Do what you love

Canine Cabins Luxury Dog Resort in Ohio Township was built -- literally -- by Julie Kramer and Bill Homol near their Toms Run Road home to provide individualized attention and a stress-free environment for the dogs boarded there. Julie and Bill -- both graduates of Avonworth High School -- are pictured above with Sid, their Bernese Mountain Dog, and Zeus, a visiting pup, in front of the cabin that houses three spacious suites. Photo by Connie Rankin for The Citizen

Many career experts will tell you: Do what you love, and success will follow.

What Julie Kramer and Bill Homol love is dogs, and that led the married couple to look in that direction when starting a business.
We always knew we wanted to do something with dogs one day," says Julie.

They got a little nudge in the right direction when Ohio Township, where they live, amended its zoning code to allow property owners with more than five acres to open a dog boarding kennel.

Although "kennel" may not be the best word to use in describing Canine Cabins. You won't find a warehouse of dogs in metal enclosures. No, the pups who stay at Canine Cabins have a suite in an actual cabin, built by Bill and Julie's family just yards from their home on Toms Run Road in Ohio Township. The 8-feet by 8-feet rooms are tiled, heated or cooled depending on the weather, with comfy dog beds and feeding stations. Each suite provides access to a partially-covered outdoor area.

The design of the rooms was based on Julie's and Bill's experience trying to find a place to board their dogs -- Sid, who is a Bernese Mountain dog, and an English Mastiff named Sully who passed away recently. A lot of boarding facilities don't offer the best accommodations for dogs this large, and so the Canine Cabins suites were built to be comfortable for dogs of all sizes. While a Great Dane may want a room to himself, smaller pups from the same household can share a room.

Right now there are only three suites, but the couple is planning to add another cabin with three or four rooms later this year.

And they're more than likely going to need them, because Canine Cabins is appealing to people whose dogs are more like family than pets.

First, there is the setting. Back in the woods, surrounded by land owned by the Pennsylvania Conservancy, there is lots of room for dogs to play and take long walks, or even swim in the pond.

Then there is the individual attention dogs receive. With their home so close, Julie and Bill are on-site nearly round-the-clock. Julie works from home some days as part of her job as a writer for a moto-cross magazine, and Bill works evenings at a nearby restaurant. They're also planning the installation of a camera system that will allow them to monitor the dogs even when both have to be away from home for a few hours.

But you won't find them away from home for much longer than that when there are dogs in residence. Their guests get walked twice a day, and "bed time" isn't until 10 p.m., when they get a special treat Julie has made. Every couple hours, someone is at the cabin just checking and interacting with the dogs. All of this is part of the boarding fee, with no extra charges for walks or playtime.

"We actually like the dogs and want to spend as much time as possible with them," Julie says.

Dogs who stay at Canine Cabins Luxury Dog Resort need to be licensed and up to date on all vaccinations. Owners should schedule an appointment to bring their dogs to visit before actually boarding them. For information or to schedule an appointment, call (412)720-5923; e-mail or; check them out on Facebook at; or visit their Web site,, which should be on-line in the near future.

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