Kacey Cooper plays with some of the smaller dogs staying at her kennel on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Kacey Cooper plays with some of the smaller dogs staying at her kennel on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Shop Talk: Cooper’s Wounded Bear Farm and Kennels

Kacey Cooper has always worked with dogs, so opening her own dog kennel was a natural fit.

“For my first job I would go around the neighborhood, and for like a dime I’d walk people’s dogs or brush them,” Cooper said. “So I’ve been doing this thing my whole life.”

Cooper is the owner of Cooper’s Wounded Bear Farm and Kennels, which she started in 1984. She said it began as a favor to her friends, but the need grew and so did her business. She started operating out of her garage but has since built a dedicated area for her business on her property in Kasilof.

“I always liked dogs and have been working with dogs my whole life and there was nowhere for people to keep their dogs around here,” Cooper said. “On the peninsula, there was like one kennel at the time. Most of the time people left their dogs at home or left the dog with the neighbor who watched them. I started doing it for friends and then other people started asking me… it just kind of progressed from there.”

Cooper’s St. Bernard, Bear, was laying on her deck sleeping, when Cooper came up with the name Wounded Bear, for her business.

“He was dreaming and he rolled over and fell off the deck and wounded his paw, and we were like ‘Aw, wounded Bear,’” Cooper said. “People always think that we keep wounded bears.”

Q: Since opening up in 1984, have more kennels opened up in the area?

A: Oh yes, a bunch of them. There’s like four or five other kennels nowadays, so it’s a growing business

Q: Do you see a steady flow of dogs coming to your kennels throughout the year?

A: Most of the time it’s pretty steady. It’s usually, obviously, busier during holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. I’ve given up trying to figure out when it’s going to be busy. It used to be September when everything was dead, you know, right after people went back to school, but lately it’s been really busy.

Q: How have you grown since ‘84?

A: I’ve grown a lot since ‘84. It’s kind of leveled off the last few years because there are more kennels. The demographics are changing. If people live in town, I’m not a good place for them to daycare, you know because they don’t want to drive to Kasilof. But people who live out here and want dog daycare bring their dogs for that. I’d say it’s steady with some growth.

Q: How do you get the word out about your business?

A: What I’m finding out about growing my business nowadays is marketing. I need to do the Facebook stuff, which I’m not very good at. I’ve got a website. I’ve got an ad in the phone book and I get a lot of word of mouth because I’ve been here for so long. I get a lot of referrals that way.

Q: Does your location work well for your business?

A: Yeah, it’s kind of central. I get a lot of dogs from Homer and Ninilchik. I have dogs that come from Nikiski. I actually have a customer that comes all the way from Cordova to bring me their dogs. I’ve been doing it long enough where a lot of my customers are actually the grandchildren of my original customers.

Q: What is most unique about your facility?

A: Our big deal is a safe, fun place for the dogs to be. The dogs get let in and out all day long. I have huge, big exercise yards for them. I try to get the dogs to socialize with other dogs. We try to do basic training for every dog that comes in. Just kind of manners 101. I make them sit politely at the gates and do leash work with them. Something else that makes us unique compared to other kennels is that I’m a registered nurse also, so I’m pretty acutely aware of illness and wounds and know how to handle them. I take care of diabetic dogs. I have a good feel for if a dog is just moping or if a dog sick. I think I’ve been here so long I know all the veterinarians and they work really well with me if I’m worried about a dog. We do cats and bunnies too, but I don’t do snakes, and I don’t do ferrets anymore.

More in News

Sockeye salmon. (Photo via Alaska Department of Fish and Game)
Fish and Game seeks comment on 2022 sport fish stocking plan

The Sport Fish Division plans to release approximately 7 million fish into the Alaska water systems over the next five years.

A map shows which parts of the Chugach National Forest are open to motorized winter recreation use for the 2021-2022 season. (Map courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service)
Parts of Chugach National Forest open to snowmachine use

The 2021-2022 winter motorized season will run through April 30.

Kenai Police Department Chief David Ross explains the purpose of a grant to be used for new radios during a meeting of the Kenai City Council on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Police to update radios using grant money

The department received almost $260,000 through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Democratic Party candidate for governor Les Gara attends a Zoom meeting with Homer residents on Nov. 18, 2021, from his Anchorage, Alaska, home. (Screen capture)
Gara makes election pitch to Homer

Democratic Party candidate for governor Gara visits virtually.

A man missing for more than 40 years was identified by the Alaska Bureau of Investigation as a Chugiak resident who was last seen in 1979. The man’s body was discovered on an island near Anchorage in 1989. (Courtesy photo/Alaska Department of Public Safety)
Body found in 1980s ID’d through DNA analysis

The body, found in 1989, had been unidentified until now.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID continues decline; 1 new death

The state had an estimated rolling average of 253.3 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham addresses state and Alaska Native leaders Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. Dillingham will travel to Toksook Bay, on an island just off Alaska’s western coast, for the first count on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Census reports minimal state population growth

The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s population grew by about 3,400 people between the 2010 and 2020 census.

The old Homer intermediate school building, showing the Homer Boys & Girls Club and gym on the south side of the building at the corner of the Sterling Highway and Pioneer Avenue.
The old Homer intermediate school building on the corner of the Sterling Highway and Pioneer Avenue, as seen in October 2010. It’s now known as the Homer Educational and Recreational Complex, or HERC. (Homer News file photo)
Homer awards contract to study use of rec complex site

The goal is to help the city understand the maximum use of that property.

Genna Stormer gives Santa a hug during Christmas Comes to Nikiski at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center on Dec. 14, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
December brings the holiday cheer

Groups across the peninsula get into the spirit of the season with public events.

Most Read