MANCHESTER — Stacie Rhault, a local dog trainer, met her fiancé and former client, Matthew Hoyt, when she ran Hop River Shepherds, a dog training business in Andover.
Now the pair are engaged – joined by a mutual interest in dogs – and recently teamed up to open their own dog training business called Versatile K9, Rhault said.
It was a match made in dog heaven.
Rhault and Hoyt, who live in Coventry and have over 20 years of combined experience training dogs, received approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals last week to open their new dog training facility at 227 Progress Drive . Rhault said the couple are excited to “pursue happiness and dog training” and share their enthusiasm with the community.
Rhault hopes to open the facility within the next two weeks.
Rhault, 37, was co-owner of Hop River Shepherds in Andover for 10 years. She said she originally thought she would do dog grooming, but decided to enroll at Connecticut K-9 – a dog training center in Newington.
Rhault said she and Hoyt, 45, who used to bring her dog for lessons at Hop River Shepherds, had been training together for six years. They released Versatile K9 about a year ago, and the Progress Drive install will be their first.
The property is owned by 227 Progress Drive LLC, which paid $968,108 for it in 2019, according to property records. Rhault called the 19,800 square foot plot perfect for dog training.
“We saw this space months before we launched and fell in love with it,” Rhault said.
The facility will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will offer private lessons during the day and group lessons in the evening, Rhault said. Group lessons will be separated by obedience level, with enrollment limited to 10 dogs to ensure each four-legged student and owner receives proper attention and training.
Rhault said they were “in no rush to hire anyone else” and would rather wait to see how the business is doing before hiring more trainers.
Manchester has four other dog training businesses, but in a city of nearly 60,000 people, Rhault said she thinks there are plenty of customers to shop around.
Rhault said she looks forward to helping dog owners become more comfortable with their pets and teaching people “how to spend time with their dogs and make their dogs grow good citizens”.
Austin Mirmina covers Manchester and Bolton. You can follow him on Twitter @Austin_Mirmina.