America's Coolest

Going Mutts Pet Services Stands Out by Walking Pups Down the Aisle

Going Mutts Pet Services, Lancaster, PA

OWNER: Lauren Bollinger; URL: goingmuttspetservices.com; FACEBOOK: facebook.com/goingmuttspetservices; INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/goingmuttspetservices; FOUNDED: 2019; EMPLOYEES: 1 full-time, 7 part-time


Lauren Bollinger

HAVING DOGS TAKE part in weddings can be challenging.

“Many couples know they want to have their furbaby included on their special day, but they just don’t know how that’s going to happen,” says Lauren Bollinger, owner of Going Mutts Pet Services in Lancaster, PA. She explains that those who know the pets well are often already part of the wedding, and having them or even a guest oversee the dogs can detract from their own experience that day.

That’s where her company’s Fur-Ever Wedding Services come in. For clients Michelle and Jake’s June 2022 wedding, Bollinger used a squeaky toy and treats to help stage their dogs, Bambi and Raven, for photos. She worked with a partner to pass them off to two bridesmaids for the walk down the aisle, and then after the procession, they took Bambi and Raven back and held them. After the ceremony, Bollinger and her partner took the dogs to the couple’s Airbnb and ensured they were settled in and comfortable before leaving.

Most wedding services clients are from out of town, so Bollinger communicates with them through email, texts and phone calls. “Most don’t have specific ideas in mind, but the most common thing that’s important to all clients is getting photos taken with their pup,” she says. When clients first contact her, Bollinger uses a set of prescreening questions to collect details such as the wedding date, venue location, and how many dogs will be taking part.

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From there, she creates a rough timeline for the day and an estimate of costs. Unless clients are in town to visit their wedding planner or the venue, Bollinger doesn’t meet most face-to-face until their big day. At the wedding, Bollinger and a second handler are always present, even if they are caring for just one dog.

Bollinger started marketing Fur-Ever Wedding Services at a bridal expo in January 2020. In addition to branded materials like bone-shaped magnets and pens, she raffled off an assortment of wedding-related items paired with dog toys and treats. To enter, attendees guessed how many dog biscuits were in a jar, and Bollinger collected email addresses with each entry, which helped to grow her marketing list. Additionally, company mascot Bailey dressed in a tuxedo for the occasion.

Going Mutts helps make pups part of the wedding fun.

Given the pandemic’s impact on the wedding industry in 2020, Bollinger relaunched these services in 2021. She staffed a table at a local wedding yard sale, where brides brought leftover wedding items such as décor and supplies to sell. Vendors also were welcome, and Bollinger used the event to garner awareness of her specialized services. She also runs Google and Facebook ads.

In addition to Fur-Ever Wedding Services, Going Mutts offers dog walking, cat check-ins and pet sitting. “The vision is and always will be to provide the best care for pets while giving their owners peace of mind,” Bollinger says.

While plenty of competition exists in the pet sitting and dog walking space, she has found ways to differentiate her business from hobby pet sitters, like those on sites such as Rover and Wag. “We’re professionals,” Bollinger says. “When you hire us, it’s not just one person doing all of the visits. If there is an emergency, there is someone to back that person up.” Going Mutts carries insurance and belongs to Pet Sitter International, and all staff have basic cat and dog First Aid and CPR training through the Red Cross.

Bollinger also ensures an optimal customer experience by eliminating extensive intake forms. Instead, she schedules free meet-and-greets with potential clients that start the conversation about care for their pets. “They show the client that we’re not just about making a profit; we’re about providing a service and really getting to know them,” she explains.

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Before a meet-and-greet, staff gather basic information via an email or phone call. During the in-person meeting, they discuss key details about a pet’s temperament and whether they have a bite history. Staff also ask about any preferred walking route for dogs because even just a trip around the block can make for a special day.

Currently, the company books an average of two wedding services per month. The business has about 40 dog walking clients. Dog walking encompasses about 35% of the company’s services. Pet sitting accounts for 35%, wedding services are about 20%, and cat check-ins account for the remaining 10%.

Bollinger remains focused on increasing bookings and developing her team’s talent. Between the wedding services and her efforts to build customer relationships, she has found multiple ways to ensure her business stands out from the competition.

Five Cool Things About Going Mutts Pet Services

1. WEDDING WARDROBES Going Mutts has a small inventory of rental items to help pets look their best on wedding days. Rentals cost $5 per day and options include burlap leashes, bandannas and floral collars. If clients request a specialized item, like a “Dog of Honor” bandana a pup may not wear again, Bollinger will purchase it for her rental inventory.

2. DOGGY DIRECT MAIL Bollinger has found that direct mail, particularly postcards featuring a cute dog photo, prompts recipients to reach out and has led to many new clients. She designs the postcards in-house, uses a printing service, and mails them using the USPS Every Door Direct Mail service.

3. GOAT WEDDING GUESTS Wedding services aren’t limited to dogs. Bollinger has even cared for goats, named Pinot and Merlot, who were on-site at a wedding venue. Bollinger and a handler used treats and sometimes moved the stubborn goats into position to help the couple capture memorable wedding photos.

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4. DOG (AND CAT) BLOG Going Mutts blog features SEO-friendly posts on everything from bad breath causes to ice melt safety to responsible dog ownership. The articles help drive traffic to the site and therefore new clients to the company.

5. POST-SERVICE INVOICING Bollinger opts not to ask clients to put down a deposit or pay ahead for her wedding services. “I invoice after services are rendered, and the client has 15 days to pay,” she explains. “I know that paying ahead is one less thing they have to worry about, but I also like to show that our number one priority is their furbaby, and the second is payment.” Bollinger has never had a wedding client not pay for the services, which run from $95 to $315, depending on the number of pets and other factors.

Paige Cerulli

Paige Cerulli is a lifelong animal lover and works as a freelance content writer and copywriter. She lives in Western Massachusetts and is a certified equine massage therapist. In addition to sharing her life with three cats, three horses, and several ducks, Paige fosters animals for a local rescue.

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