New owners, same approach at RK Pet Ranch

Lonnie Castelli and Talitha “TJ” Appenzeller are the new owners of RK Pet Ranch, and they are looking forward to carrying on the pet-boarding business’ long-running tradition of providing loving care for dogs and cats. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After more than a decade running RK Pet Ranch, owner Peggy Musser is handing over the leash of the business to new owners.

Lonnie Castelli and Talitha “TJ” Appenzeller say they will continue the same traditions Musser brought when she started the high-end, pet-boarding business in 2005 at its location eight miles south of Steamboat Springs off of Colorado Highway 131.

“It’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you have to love what you do,” Musser said of running the business. “I have taken care of dogs that have come in as eight-week-old puppies, and I have been here long enough that I have seen some of them through their entire lives.

“It’s fun to see them grow, to watch their interest and activities, and what they have learned as they grow as dogs,” Musser added. “To see how they interact with their owners is also really, really rewarding.”

The RK Pet Ranch has been caring for dogs and cats since 2005. (Photo courtesy of RK Pet Ranch)

The sale of the business to Castelli and Appenzeller became official earlier this month. They purchased the 17-plus acre ranch for $1,000,000. The property also includes a 3,781-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath home.

Castelli, the managing partner, has no plans to change the ranch at this point, including the pricing. Tad Appenzeller and Halie Cone have been hired to operate the business, and they will live in residence so they will always be onsite. The new owners will also retain the existing staff.

Castelli said he has been bringing his dogs — an 8-year-old yellow lab named Elvis and a 14-year-old miniature Pinscher — to RK Pet Ranch for years. The family has grown recently with the addition of a six-month old Newfoundland named Tiny.

Dogs play in the dog run at RK Pet Ranch. (Photo courtesy of RK Pet Ranch)

“The dogs will jump out of the car, run into the kennel and don’t ever look back. It’s like we don’t even exist they are so happy to be here,” Castelli said.

RK Pet Ranch currently employs nine people, including five full-time staff members. The business offers a wide range of boarding options for both dogs and cats with day camps, longer overnight stays and long-term boarding available

Dogs are walked on the property’s half-mile trail twice a day, and staff watches over the dogs as they play in individual or customized playgroups based on size and temperament.

A dog plays during a stay at the RK Pet Ranch. (Photo courtesy of RK Pet Ranch)

Castelli said the ranch can accommodate up to 50 dogs, but that number is normally capped to make sure each dog gets the attention and care they need.

A priority for the new owners is to continue the long tradition of providing top-level service that Musser established.

Musser said she made the decision to retire and sell the business so she can spend more time with her grandchildren. She plans to spend the winter in Louisiana with one-month-old twin granddaughters Violet and Makenzy and their big brother, Xander.

“I will miss the dogs, and I will miss the owners. It’s going to take some time to adjust,” Musser said. “My own dog thinks it’s great, because she is getting a lot more time and attention.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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