New doggie daycare, grooming business offers flexible services

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 18, 2022

SALISBURY — A new pet care business downtown on South Main Street offers services for dogs with plenty of options to fit any need.

Wendy Michelle Richardson Johnson and Jessica Gems are the founders of U Barkin @ Me and Jessica Gems Doggie Daycare, an all-in-one spot for pet owners and their dogs that includes fitness, boarding, grooming, skin treatments and flea treatments.

However, if you need other care for your dogs, the two will bring their services to the owner’s home by request.

Those interested in the flexible services are required to book an appointment beforehand. The front door is locked for safety of the dogs and there may be paws pattering inside throughout the day.

Pets are given an open space with faux grass rugs covering areas of the floor and toys to play with while they are boarded. Dogs are separated by gender, spayed/neutered and weight. A video camera is placed strategically within the lobby so dog owners can see their pets at any time during their visit through a link sent by Johnson.

To the business duo, it is important to work with each client to meet the needs of the dog and the owners’ requests.

The maximum capacity for dog sitting is five. Smaller dogs have a maximum capacity of 15. This is to ensure every pet gets one-on-one attention from the dog specialists, but if they are booked up when an individual needs assistance, they are more than willing to accommodate.

“Don’t be surprised if you walk by and see me playing with the dogs,” said Gems, who said her family’s lifestyle working with a breeding animals led her to her own love of dogs. She describes herself as a country girl, immersing herself in the world of animals after her career as a manager and interior designer. She decorated the shop, designing the window to showcase what was inside.

Gems also handles hiring inquiries.

The two are looking to hire more employees once the business expands, but they are still happy to accept applications and resumes. Currently, they are seeking dog groomers and bathers. Groomers are expected to have experience; bathers with no experience are welcomed.

The business is renovating the upstairs space above where it is operating on the first floor to offer more doggie suites.

Johnson has a past with dogs herself, working as a pet sitter since 2012 before going on to work with pet rescues and foster transportation. She also worked on a project with a luxury apartment complex in Texas, taking owners’ dogs on walks of 15 minutes and other exercise and enrichment needs. The original plan was to open a grooming spot, but due to a high demand for pet sitting from  clients like Chris Green and his dog Princess, she decided to make it a joint effort with Gems to open a one-stop spot for a variety of needs.

Dogs are usually taken to the park behind Town Hall or Bell Tower Green for some outdoor play and exercise. Local business Body by De’Losh also   provides fitness services, as Johnson said local businesses have offered overwhelming support to her.

If an individual is looking for a service not offered by the two women, their networking has increased contacts for them to connect with others in the area who can provide training, service dog needs or temporary foster care.

“We want our business to be a family,” said Johnson. “Salisbury is a lovely city with good food and a good setting. It’s a pet-friendly community. We’re two brown-skin girls and a doggie business. God is so good.”

Gems agreed with her statement.

Plans for the dog-centered business include not only the second floor, but also the addition of a pet treadmill and Halloween celebrations. Gems encouraged owners to start bringing their pets in costume to the store as they will be holding a costume contest that involves community voting for the most spirited costume. Each dog will receive a treat bag filled with goodies for the pets. Additionally, they are a part of Woofstock, which is set for Oct. 23.

The store had its soft opening in August but plans are in the works for    a grand opening later.

U Barkin @ Me and Jessica Gems’ Doggie Daycare can be found at 203 S. Main St. in Salisbury and is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and by appointment Friday.

To book, call 988-987-9489 or visit

The business also offers monthly memberships starting at $25 a month to $55 a month depending on pet needs.