Dam Dog House: a place for playing, sleeping, eating and snuggling in Boulder City

Dam Dog House is located less than 5 miles from Lake Mead National Recreation Area; making it perfect for locals and tourists alike. There is no restriction on breeds. Gilbert, puppy, loves to run with the big dogs. (Photo The Nevadan, El Nevadense)

By Aleza Freeman

October 11, 2023

Latinas are one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs in the US. That’s why we’re starting a new weekly feature profiling Latina small business owners in Southern Nevada. Have a suggestion for someone we should feature? Email us at [email protected].

At Dam Dog House in Boulder City, every dog has its day.

Like, Lucy, a motherly Great Dane and the puppies she takes under her paw.

Or Oso, an Australian cattle dog, who’s always up to teach a new dog how to do a proper zoomie.

Then there’s Tanev, a big white Labrador. The doggy daycare’s staff calls him a “lap”rador.

“If you sit, he’s going to sit on you,” said Dam Dog House owner Allison Ruiz-Shafer. “This boy is always down for a cuddle, and I think we just forgot to tell him that he’s too big to be on a lap anymore.”

Ruiz-Shafer, 38, opened the 2,000-square-foot doggy daycare and boarding facility on Boulder City Parkway two years ago. But as she will tell you, she didn’t start it; it “sort of started itself.”

A busy mom of two school-age kids and Music Director for St. Andrew Catholic Church, she walked dogs for a living in the early mornings of March 2020. Despite the pandemic shutdown that soon followed statewide, her client base grew and grew–as did her clients’ needs for dog-sitting services and Ruiz-Shafer’s need for a physical space.

Ruiz-Shafer is a first-generation Mexican-American and practically lifelong Nevadan with a strong work ethic and a “go get ‘em” attitude.” She grew up in Boulder City before attending college at the University of Nevada Reno (UNR).

Along with two daughters, she has a trio of pets: a Shepsky named Maggie, a Mastiff named Clark, and a tuxedo cat named Dave. Prior to returning to Southern Nevada, she ran a veterinary office for several years.

As for opening the daycare, her family (both human and canine) provided her with tons of motivation. A paw print on display at the facility pays tribute to her first dog, Anabella, who passed away at age 14 last November. The name, Dam Dog House, is in honor of her late dad, who loved the Boulder City gag of putting “Dam” in front of everything.

“My Dad didn’t live long enough to see what I built, but I know he would be proud that I am working hard to build my American dream,” said Ruiz-Shafer.

Dam Dog House is located less than 5 miles from Lake Mead National Recreation Area; making it perfect for locals and tourists alike. There is no restriction on breeds, but all dogs must pass a temperament test to ensure they can be integrated into the pack.

The dogs have plenty of room for playing, sleeping, eating and snuggling, and full access to an enclosed outdoor area. Handlers make sure the dogs are playing nicely and receiving proper enrichment.

Ruiz-Shafer loves the excitement of running the daycare. On any given day, you may run into a Boston terrier named Bella, who loves to run with the big dogs. Or Athena, a beautiful German Shepherd, who finally shed her fears of other dogs and plays with the pack like a pro now.

“There’s not one day the same,” she said. “Our pack is always growing and changing.”

To learn more about Dam Dog House, visit damdoghouse.com.

  • Aleza Freeman

    Aleza Freeman is a Las Vegas native and award-winning journalist with two decades of experience writing and editing lifestyle, travel, entertainment, and human interest stories in Nevada. Her work has appeared in AARP magazine, Haute Living and Nevada Magazine.

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