Pool time with a purpose for dogs

Size of addition: 5,000 sq ft
Capital expenditure: $260,000
Expected job creation/retention: 5/2

In search of a better work/life balance, Becky Pease moved from a successful but stressful corporate accounting career to pursue an opportunity involving her love of animals: she bought a franchise called Central Bark Doggy Daycare. While operating the business, she realized the animals’ need for an indoor pool.

“The water removes 70 percent of the dog’s weight, making hydrotherapy the best form of non-impact exercise,” Becky said.

As a former competitive swimmer, she combined her passions for water and pets into her second successful business. In 2013, she opened Aqua Therapups in Slinger.

“The water can do so many things for animals, which is the most exciting part of running the pool,” Becky says. The pool offers a place to achieve fun, weight loss and rehabilitation as well as an energy outlet for dogs who can’t be around other dogs, muscle toning and body shaping for competitive dogs and even swim lessons for those pets still learning to take the plunge.

Becky firmly believes in doing things the right way. She runs her business based on a familiar quote that her grandma practiced as principle and that Becky proudly displays at Aqua Therapups: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest until the good is better and the better is best.” In 2015, when she realized an even greater need for therapy for her furry clients, Becky pursued a pet hydrotherapy certification from Rocky’s Retreat Canine Health and Fitness Center in Florida.

From there, her business proliferated, and she quickly became aware of the need for a second location. However, obtaining financing was a problem. With the help of real estate agent Brian Parrish, Becky found the ideal location in Brookfield. Even though Rick Dahl, owner of the location, was willing to invest capital into the building to accommodate Becky’s needs, she was still searching for the right financing partner to make it all happen.

That’s when she was introduced to the business consultants at the Waukesha County Center for Growth and Wisconsin Small Business Development Center. The business consultants helped Becky tweak her financial projections and pro forma statements and introduced her to a number of commercial lenders. Within a few short months, Becky had received several loan approvals and secured funding through Ixonia Bank, and her Brookfield location opened in December 2018.

Becky’s story does not end there. She was approached by Sherri Cappabianca, the owner of Rocky’s Retreat in Florida, to buy out the pet hydrotherapy certification business. Becky purchased the business and held her first certification program in August 2018. Clients came to Aqua Therapups from all over the U.S. and as far as Korea. The quarterly certification program will provide significant revenue to the expanding business. Becky also continues to grow her business by partnering with veterinarians, animal chiropractors and other specialized pet service providers.

And Becky is an innovator in other ways. She invented the Walk-EZ Leash, which gently guides the pet to prevent constant pulling. Her invention earned her an invitiation to appear on the reality TV show “Shark Tank.” In the future, this entrepreneur hopes to implement a method to manufacture the leashes in large quantities. Currently each one is being made by hand.

The Center for Growth has been an invaluable partner to Becky on her journey to be a small business owner.