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Boreal Community Media

A conversation with Josiah Avery, owner of Rocky Knoll Dog Boarding in Grand Marais

Oct 18, 2022 01:07PM ● By Laura Durenberger
Photos provided

By Laura Durenberger-Grunow - Boreal Community Media - October 18, 2022

What were you doing at 22 years old? If you’re Josiah Avery, you’ve spent your years growing up raising Brittany Spaniels, all while living in different states, then, living in Europe and Bosnia for a couple of years before finally residing in Minnesota. Here, he spent time caring for dogs for friends and family and realized he wanted to make a living working with dogs. 

So what brought him to Minnesota? Avery’s dad grew up in Cook County and moved back to be closer to family. Josiah decided to follow suit and in doing so realized the need for dog boarding services in the area. 

In 2018, he built the first building that allowed him to board up to three dogs on some property in Grand Marais. A year later in 2019, with the help of Cook County’s Entrepreneur Fund and the Cook County Chamber of Commerce, he launched and eventually expand his official business, Rocky Knoll Dog Boarding. 

Related: Read about Josiah's experience with the Entrepreneur Fund in this article

In 2021, he began looking at a new build, which he eventually completed this past August. The new building has allowed Avery to board 10 dogs at a time (up from three).

Rocky Knoll Dog Boarding is not only a place to board your dog, but also a doggy daycare. 
“Along with boarding dogs, I can also take dog clients one or two days a week for daycare. I’m open year-round”, he said. 


Avery went on to say that the boarding and daycare he provides include:
  • walks (at least two times a day)
  • outdoor playtime
  • one-on-one time
  • multiple bathroom breaks

“I am a certified pet care professional, so am knowledgeable in dog handling, behavior analysis, proper kennel cleaning techniques, and overall disease prevention. The safety for my dog clients and their families, my dogs, and myself is always top of mind and my number one concern,” Avery said. 

“For one, vaccinations are required for any dog that is boarded or comes for daycare. That’s super important.”

He also watches each dog’s temperament and personality, making sure to not mix any dogs he feels may not “play well with others” during outdoor playtime. Continuing with safety, Avery states on the Rocky Knoll website that he has the right to deny service to any dog he feels would not be a good fit for the kennel. 

“It’s just me working with the dogs; I have no other employees, so yeah, safety for me, my pets, and all the dogs is important.” 

Just by talking to Avery, one can tell that he is passionate about dogs and creating a safe and enjoyable environment for them. 

In fact, he not only enjoys working with other people’s dogs, but he also has two Brittany Spaniels of his own; Maggie and Trigger. He also has a cat, Ingrid, and 16 chickens. 

“I just love animals,” he said with a smile. 

When it comes to boarding animals, he said that he has had visitors from around the world, and oftentimes, people and dogs who are boarding for the first time. 

“I get a lot of people who are traveling with their pets but want to spend a few days in the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness and want to board their dog. Many times, this is the first time for the dog and their owners.” 

Avery has the following advice for anyone who may be nervous about boarding their dog for the first time: 

“First, make sure your boarder has experience with first-time dogs. For myself, I’ve worked with many dogs who had never been boarded before.

It’s also helpful to check references. For example, I have a number of references and testimonials people can read from past clients that I can provide at any time. People can also do a Google search and read reviews that way. That’s always a good way to get a feel for a place”, he said. 

Avery also knows the local vets at Lake County and Cedar Grove and has their numbers on hand in case he needs to reach out. 

“I’ve never had it happen before, thankfully,” he said. 

So, what does one bring when boarding their dog? 

Avery mentioned that each kennel is different, but for Rocky Knoll Dog Boarding, he provides dog bedding, a food and water bowl, and of course, water. He does also provide some toys like Kongs for an extra $2 but encourages people to bring a favorite toy if they want. 

“One thing I do ask is to not bring toys with fluff. They can cause issues in the kennels,” he said. 
Additionally, he requires people to bring their dog's own food, simply because of all the different preferences and diets. 

If that’s not enough, he’s even able to administer medications. 

It’s clear Avery puts a lot into Rocky Knoll and his own animals. When asked what he does in his “spare time”, he laughed. 

“Yeah, I need to make time off a high priority. I get pretty tied down, but I love it.”

In 2021, he began looking at starting a new build to allow him to increase the number of dogs he can board, which he eventually completed this past August. The new building has allowed Avery to board 10 dogs at a time (up from three). 


  • per day rate: $30
  • per day rate for two dogs in one kennel from the same family: $50
  • extra walks: $15 per walk
  • extra one-on-one time: $10 per session

You can find more information about Rocky Knoll Dog Boarding on their website here

New dog boarding kennel open and ready for business

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