About Us

OUR VISION:
Fun, loving, safe and comfortable vacations for your pets while you are away!

Our unique luxury dog boarding facility is designed to let you vacation worry free.  Your dog stays in our cottages while getting lots of one on one attention. Plus, 5% of our profits are donated to a separate fund to begin our future non-profit, Adoption and Rehoming Cottage (ARC) to help homeless dogs find their path to their forever homes.

Our Story

The Cottages is a luxury dog boarding and rehoming facility in a country setting just off I64 in Louisa, VA. The boarding facility provides a fun filled vacation for your pet! The property is made up of 6 cottages and lots of play yards. Throughout the day, our guests can choose to spend their time inside the heated and air conditioned luxury runs or enjoy the smells, sounds and sights from the attached outdoor, partially covered runs. All dogs enjoy time in our grassy play yards with friends, either human or canine & human, depending on the preference of our guest. We give each pet individualized care, lots of attention and love.  In addition, 5% of all profits are donated to the future non-profit re-homing facility, the Adoption and Re-Homing Cottage (ARC) which is in the works. The non-profit will be located on site, but will be separate from the dog boarding facility. Rather than reinvent the wheel, ARC will assist local shelters and rescues by fostering, training and helping to re-home their dogs.  So not only does your pet get the best care available and tons of love in our boarding facility, you also help homeless pets each time your dog boards with us.

The Cottages was born out of a deep love for animals. As a child, I knew in my heart that my passion for animals would play an important role in my life. Over the years, from working on the business side of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, to running a behavioral health company that helped people regain their lives, I loved my work but had moved away from my deep passion for animals. Then I read the book A Year to Live by Stephen Levine. After pondering how I would live my life differently if I only had one year to live, I found my way back to my original path, to help animals. This is my life passion.  I returned to school to get my MBA in entrepreneurship to work through my ideas and then moved from the cement filled streets of Los Angeles to the beautiful greenery of Central Virginia. While here, I worked at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA for four years, where they taught me about animal care and the wonderful programs offered to help pets and their people in the area. I realized that this pet loving community is where I wanted to make my home.

During a recent reorganizing effort, I came across a binder of school projects from elementary school. One of the assignments asked “what would you do if you had a million dollars?” My response was “buy a fram and save all the animals.” I could not say it better as my adult self (although I like to think I would spell it better!) This little paper helped confirm that I am on the right path. And thus the Fram project, The Cottages, was born.

Sarah Chapin Strentz, Owner

Sarah did her undergraduate work at Occidental College in Los Angeles where she majored in Economics. She then worked on the business side of the entertainment industry, selling independent films internationally at markets like the Cannes Film Festival and London Screenings.  In 2010, after receiving her MBA from the University of Southern California with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship, Sarah took the position of Executive Director at an addiction treatment center. Over the next several months, she successfully piloted the company through a merger and increased profits over the next couple of years. In 2013 Sarah moved to the Charlottesville area to work on her plans to start a luxury dog boarding facility that helps to fund a pet rehoming project.  For four years, Sarah worked at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA in various positions, including Adoption Counselor, Cat Care Manager and Director of Finance.  Her inspiration to bring her business background to the animal hospitality and welfare sector was her rescue dog, Gato, who passed in 2013. Gato walked Sarah through some very challenging times in her life, like an angel. Sarah feels that Gato is still spiritually with her and that they are walking this venture to together.

Gato


Talya Vardimon, Manager and Trainer

Hailing from Jerusalem, Israel, Talya has spent most her life working with animals. As a child, she trained friends’ and family’s dogs and ran a tiny dog and cat rescue from her parents’ balcony. After high-school she studied Veterinary medicine in Denmark for a few years before returning to Israel to study painting. She moved to the US in 2012 where she served as the kennel manager of the Humane Society of New York and worked with Broadway animal trainer Bill Berloni. After arriving in Charlottesville in 2016, Talya worked as the Animal Care Manager and then as the Dog Behavior Specialist at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA. Talya is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed through The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.

Talya shares a home in Charlottesville with her husband Abraham, their son Leon, their two dogs – Sunday and Kermit, and their two cats – Patty and Ivan.


Jo Downing, Trainer

Jo developed a love of animals at a young age, growing up with dogs, horses and a variety of other farm animals. Jo has also played competitive sports her entire life, even earning a full-ride scholarship to play basketball in college! In recent years, building on that experience, her competitive nature and training with her dogs, she has competed and titled dogs in Rally, Agility, Obedience, Tricks, Barn Hunt and is a member of the All Dog Adventures tricks team. In 2016 Jo completed her CCFT (Certified Canine Fitness Trainer) Certification. Since then, she has been working to bring awareness, education and safe and proper execution of Canine Fitness to as many dog owners as possible – enabling owners to help their dogs live a longer, healthier, happier life! She is also a Certified Trick Dog Instructor, CGC (Canine Good Citizen) Evaluator and Alliance of Therapy Dogs Tester/Observer. In teaching, she likes working with the variety of skill levels, personalities and abilities that each team brings to the table. She enjoys being able to pinpoint that one small thing that helps teams understand how to be successful in their training and to help find ways to further the human/dog relationship. Jo has three Australian Shepherds: “Houdi” “Chewie” and the new puppy, Avid’s Huntsman of the Night Skhy “Orion”. All three dogs are certified therapy dogs and are active members of two local therapy dog organizations. When not spending time with her dogs, Jo enjoys tending to her garden and chickens as well as spending time at the beach and hanging out with friends and family.

Learn more about Jo and Canine Fitness Training by visiting her website.


Tara Reardon, Dog Care

Tara has been a life-long animal lover.  She grew up in home surrounded by cats and dogs, and has always felt a special connection with her pets – namely a cat named Rico and a dog named Reagan. 
Tara attended the University of Maryland and majored in elementary education.  She has spent most of her professional careers as an elementary classroom teacher in Washington, DC . However, she also earned an MBA from the George Washington University and worked in the operations department for a charter school consortium. 
Tara moved to Charlottesville in 2017 and started working at the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA as the Dog Care Lead.  There, she was able to work with many different dogs and learned how to take care of their various needs. She thoroughly enjoyed her time at CASPCA, but after a year, headed back to the classroom. Currently, Tara is a fifth grade gifted resource teacher at Walker Upper Elementary in Charlottesville. 


When Tara is not attached to a leash or in a classroom, she is most likely snuggling with her own crazy pups, Tilly and Zoe.  


Vijay Owens, Dog Care

Vijay was born and raised in New York City. She started cat sitting for neighbors at age 10. Once they forgot to leave the key and she was able to climb in through a window. Instead of shifting gears to burglary, she continued pet sitting and babysitting until she left for college. She also worked at a used and rare bookstore called Gryphon Books. After earning a journalism degree from Binghamton University in upstate New York Vijay returned to NYC. Before she found a publishing job, she worked at her stepmother’s pet care business Manhattan TLC For Pets. Even throughout her professional career Vijay continued to help walking dogs for the family business.
After moving to Virginia in 2004 to raise her two daughters with her musician husband Charles, Vijay worked as a nanny for many years: work that to her delight often included walking the family dog. Once her girls reached their teen years Vijay decided she wanted to retire from nannying and work with animals again and got a job on the cat care team at Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA.

Vijay loved working with the cats at CASPCA but the logistics of working there with one homeschooled daughter and one special needs daughter proved difficult so after about a year Vijay decided to leave CASPCA and be a freelance pet sitter. Walking dogs is fun and rewarding for Vijay and leaves her more time for family and for her to help out at the Cottages when needed.

Call today to reserve a room: 540.390.0911. We also text! Or email us at
Sarah@TheDogCottages.com