It’s not unusual for people to pack up the car and take a trip down to Lake Michigan or stay in a local resort to destress when the daily grind of work and life have become too much. Two Galien residents created a place where some Michiana residents can do just that — however, the only guests they see have four legs and bark.
Partners Tim Scott and Jeff Welch opened Welcott Farm — a combination of their two last names — in 2017. The farm, 3202 Warren Woods Road, Galien, serves as a retreat, daycare and boarding center for area dogs. Rates start at $10 for one to five hours of care and go up to $40 per night. Tim and Jeff offer a $5 discount for rescue animals.
While both Tim and Jeff are native Michiganders, they spent many years living and working in the Chicago area. During that time, they volunteered at many local animal rescues and shelters, and gave love to their own four dogs. So, when they decided they wanted to move back to Michigan, they knew they wanted to do something that allowed them to interact with their favorite furry creatures.
“We knew we had to have a plan, a vision,” Tim says as a gaggle of four-legged guests runs circles around an indoor play area. “We wanted a place for dogs to be able just to chill and enjoy wide-open spaces. That was our vision.”
Calling Welcott Farm “a labor of love,” Tim and Jeff were able to turn their vision into a sprawling farm with two buildings with enclosures for animals to stay in, and several indoor and outdoor play areas. According to the owners, their farm allows dogs to get an experience that is different from their everyday routine to destress and play in an open space.
“Dogs bring joy here every day,” Jeff says. “They thrive here, they really do. We really want to make this an enriching experience for every dog that walks through our doors.”
According to Tim, the experience at the farm is tailored toward each unique guest, and the staff spends time with each new dog when it arrives on the farm to help assess its needs. Some, such as animal daycare centers, might bring in some dogs for just a couple of hours to get some exercise and reap the benefits of Welcott’s many acres of grass. Others might board their pup for an extended period of time. Some dogs might have a lot of energy and need a lot of playtime, while others might be better suited to a calmer environment with a lot of downtime — it all depends on the dog.
“What we do depends on people’s needs,” Tim says. “People like that we are here 24/7 and the one-on-one time we give. We give [the dogs] good rest times and a ton of playtime if they are up to it.”
“We are smaller than some places,” Jeff adds as he walks alongside his partner through a kitchen area where the two prepare food for their four-legged guests each morning. “That gives us the ability to spend time with every dog.”
Welcott’s approach has resonated with Michiana residents — two-legged and four-legged alike. When the farm opened in 2017, Tim and Jeff only expected to be able to house 20 dogs at a time. However, they have already had to build a second building, opened in the winter of 2019, to accommodate more animals and meet demand.
On a typical day, Tim and Jeff work from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., caring both for the dogs and the farm. While running the pet boarding business may be hard work, the couple said it was worth it due to the relationships they were able to develop with both their pet and human clients.
“It’s a very special service, and that is what makes us so different,” Tim says. “We have become such close friends with our clients. Not only do we get to know the dogs, but we also get to know the people.”
As Welcott Farm continues to move forward into the future, Tim and Jeff say they plan to continue to do what they have always done: provide a unique and special experience for Michiana’s dogs.
“It’s continuing to serve the community and all of our incredible clients, and to continue doing everything we are doing as well as we are doing it,” Tim says. “We have an unconditional love of these creatures. We would do anything for them. We are so lucky to be able to do this. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by dogs every day on this really pretty farm?”
Photography by Emily Sobecki