Salem Flores and his wife, Luz, recently took over the lease for Carmel Valley's Markim Pet Resort, when founder Mark Jacobson retired.
The Floreses are well-known with Markim clients — Salem has been training dogs at the resort for seven years, and Luz has been a groomer.
"It's always been my goal to accomplish the most I can and to have something of my own," Salem said.
Salem said that he has been at Markim long enough to see puppies he trained grow into well-behaved dogs. Same for Luz, who says Markim's customers are very loyal.
"It's always a little scary when someone takes over a business; people aren't sure that the new owners will keep the same quality," Luz said. "People seem to be very happy that it's us taking over because they've known us for the last seven years."
The Floreses are taking over a very busy business at their most active time of year. Markim opened up their holiday boarding reservations on July 7 this year, and by the end of the day, they were already booked. For the Christmas holiday, they are fully booked at 150 animals and they have a waiting list of 40 pets.
The couple moved in 2001 to San Diego from Mexico, where they had their own pet clinic with Salem as a trainer and Luz as a groomer.
Luz has always loved animals and finds grooming to come naturally — she said the key to being a good groomer is to have a lot of patience. Salem has been training dogs with his uncle since he was 12 years old. He has helped train police dogs and works with Labrador and pit bull rescue groups to help train dogs so they can become adoptable.
One of his success stories is a daily presence at Markim — a yellow lab named Montana. She was a "problem child" who nobody could train and the rescue group feared would have to be put down. Salem fostered Montana and helped mold her into shape — she is now a member of the Flores family.
The boarding digs at Markim are very comfortable for pets away from home.
Cats get their own den with a separate sunning area. They also get to spend time in the cat lounge with toys, pillows and perches.
Boarding dogs at the resort can enjoy their own kennel with attached runs that are 10 or 20 feet long. Kennels are marked with little notes from staff: "Little grumpy," "might bite" or "lots of love." The "love" note appears the most often.
There are play yards for one-on-one play with a staff member if the animal is not neutered or spayed or might be nervous playing with other dogs. There are also "buddy play" yards where dogs go out for 25-30 minutes of exercise in groups of six dogs their same size.
Owners don't have to worry that their dog will be penned up all day. With the runs and the exercise time, Salem said sometimes people carry worn-out, sleeping dogs to their cars at the end of their Markim stay.