SHERIDAN — Home, home on the range — where the deer and the antelope play.
And also dogs. Lots and lots of dogs.
That last part might not be in the song, but it is a large part of what Carrie and Kurt Steinhorst do on their 25-acre property on Taylor Road outside of Sheridan. Earlier this year, the couple launched their dog boarding business, the Home Away Dog Ranch.
From the sprawling yards where the dogs can play to the homemade dog treats, Home Away isn’t quite like any doggy day care Fido and friends have visited before, Carrie Steinhorst said.
“Most dogs who stay here are town dogs,” Carrie Steinhorst said. “They are used to staying at home most of the time and sitting on the couch. But we believe there is an inner ranch dog inside every town dog. They come out here and just go nuts. They love the open spaces. It really is the opposite of dog jail. People can drop their dogs off and enjoy themselves, knowing their dogs are enjoying themselves too.”
The Steinhorsts are longtime dog lovers and have spent the last 14 years raising German Shorthaired Pointers, Carrie Steinhorst said. Carrie Steinhorst works as a geologist while Kurt Steinhorst guides bird hunters at the Clear Creek Bird Farm.
The dog ranch is a business idea the Steinhorsts had years ago, but it got postponed as work and family got in the way, Carrie Steinhorst said. But when she had to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea was revived.
“We’ve always had a homestead vibe going out here,” Carrie Steinhorst said. “We grow and preserve our own food, and working from home allowed us to do more and more of that. At the same time, we had several people mention the need for additional dog boarding in Sheridan County. It felt like the missing piece of the puzzle to bring together everything we were doing at the ranch, so we got on the idea and jumped on it.”
“Sustainability” is a key word that comes up frequently when talking to the Steinhorsts about the dog ranch. The entire facility is run on solar power, Carrie Steinhorst said, and the Steinhorsts raise their own meat and plants, which in turn benefit the dogs.
It’s the Steinhorsts’ home-raised chickens and beef in the bone broth popsicle treats they give the dogs, and it’s their own lavender in the lavender paw rub applied to the dogs when they’re bathed.
The Steinhorsts also offer transportation for the dogs between Sheridan and the ranch in the form of a special “dog bus” Carrie Steinhorst drives every morning and evening.
“That’s part of the whole sustainability thing — to decrease the traffic on the road and encourage mass transit,” Carrie Steinhorst said. “We charge $5 a ride, and people would easily spend that much or more driving up here themselves.”
The dog ranch is a family effort with Carrie Steinhorst as the business manager and Kurt Steinhorst as the dog trainer. Their young sons Henry and Jack Steinhorst get involved too, with the former listed on the business’ website as “Chief Petting Officer” and the latter listed as “General Maintenance.” Both boys pet and play with the dogs, and they also help clean the kennels and tuck the dogs in at night.
When asked which part of his job he liked best, Henry Steinhorst had a quick answer.
“Playing!” Henry Steinhorst said. “I run with them and throw the ball, and I also get a stick and throw it and have the dogs bring it back. They seem to really like that.”
The Steinhorsts’ dog ranch is just one new pet boarding business to open in Sheridan County in recent months. Last month,McGraw’s Paws opened its doors for in-town dog and cat boarding in Sheridan.
Carrie Steinhorst said she was heartened to see so many businesses providing pet boarding options in the community, and said the ranch has stayed busy despite the competition. Most weekends, the facility is at capacity with 25 dogs, Carrie Steinhorst said.
“We just kind of have a different vibe going out here, and I think people really enjoy that about us,” Carrie Steinhorst said. “When dogs stay here, they get a unique experience they’re not going to get anywhere else.”