About Us

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About The Paw

Whether you are new to Mankato, have included a new animal family member, or are just looking for an experienced pet care provider that you can trust, please stop by and see what we have to offer. Our pet care team will be happy to show you around and see how we can help you and your pet.


The Paw opened in 2008 and is more than just a large building with huge playgrounds for dogs to run and play on. The building was designed with the health and comfort of your pet in mind.  The floors in our lobby, training center, and hallways are all rubber coated so that they are comfortable for your pet to walk and get traction on. In our suites and grooming salon, floors are epoxy coated for easier cleaning and sanitization.

Fire Safety

Our facility is built with block walls and interior steel studs. We have stainless steel cabinets in all boarding spaces. There are few flammable items in our building. We have a fire monitoring system that calls the fire department to dispatch emergency personnel. We have a fire suppression system/sprinkler system throughout our facility including the boarding rooms. We have floor drains in our boarding rooms to make sure that pets are safe and will not drown, should the sprinklers go off. We do not have staff working shifts overnight as their activity would keep the dogs awake.

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Cleaning and Maintenance

The air is cleaned in our facility with UV sterilization. We clean our daycare kennels, floors, and suites using water heated to 230°F, which minimizes the need for harsh cleaning chemicals. We have floor drains throughout our suites which make cleaning and sterilization of all pet areas much easier.  

Our Boarding Suites

Our daycare kennels and boarding suites are cleaned before and after each guest arrives to ensure a clean welcoming space for your pet’s stay.

We have in-floor heat in all of our boarding suites, central air conditioning, and fans throughout the building. Our facility uses an energy-efficient, GO Thermal system to keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

We offer 150 spacious boarding suites for dogs, raised beds, and exercise time available daily, The Paw is your pet's home away from home. We have webcams on our playgrounds so you can see your pet while they are outside, executive suites, cat room and grooming room. We have owners call all the time asking why they cannot see their dog when they are in the daycare room or in regular boarding suites that are not viewable to the customers.

Swimming Pool

Our swimming pool is graduated in depth from 10 inches to 4½  feet, and measures 18x50 feet. The water is kept at a comfortable 80°F. Our pool room is equipped with a dock (for all those who enjoy dock jumping) which lowers at the press of a button. 

Please stop in and take a tour! Looking for more information, please see our full list of brochures

Meet Our Team

The staff of The Paw is dedicated to making our pet resort an engaging and healthy place for all of our furry guests. They have all received training in off-leash dog play through "The Dog Gurus." This training teaches our staff about dog body language, dog emotional states, dogs under stress, dog aggression, how to manage dog interactions, and play styles of dogs. 


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General Manager

Ami joined The Paw’s team in August 2017. Her favorite part about working at The Paw is seeing and meeting all the different breeds and personalities of the animals who visit. She enjoys building relationships with customers and their pets and takes a special interest in nervous dogs by helping them come out of their shells to make them feel as comfortable as possible.

Ami has three dogs: Presto (Staffordshire Bull Terrier), Jami (Golden), and Lexa (Golden); four cats: Macaroni, Gouda, Meatball, and Cat; and lots of chickens. Ami and her husband own an automotive performance parts business and travel all over the country for races. Ami enjoys cooking, baking, watching documentaries, puzzles, and cross-stitching when she is home.

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Pet Care Supervisor

Liz has been working at The Paw since May 2021. She is from Elk Mound, WI, and graduated in May 2021 from UW-River Falls with a bachelor’s degree in animal science with a companion animal management emphasis. Her faithful companions are Georgia, a chocolate lab, and Crue, a black lab.

Liz’s favorite thing about working at The Paw is seeing how excited all the dogs get when they are at. She also enjoys seeing all the different personalities of the dogs and getting to know every dog that comes into our facility, whether it’s for boarding or daycare.

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Front Desk Supervisor / Marketing Coordinator

Mack began working at The Paw in August 2020 and is from Dover, MN.  She graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with her bachelor's in marketing. Before working at The Paw she spent 3 years working at a kennel in Rochester. She has had a dog in her life since the day she was born and nothing makes her happier than taking care of a dog or even just seeing a dog.

Castle, a 6yr old black lab pug mix, and Magnolia (Maggie), a 1yr old red heeler, are Mack’s current faithful companions. What she loves most about working at The Paw is Puppy Camp, getting to meet new puppies. She enjoys helping them have a fun first experience. It is “the best feeling.” She also loves the regulars, seeing them every week allows her to bond with them. She takes pride in building trust with each and every dog she works with.

Customer Service

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Lead Customer Service Associate / Lead Pet Care Attendant

Amber has been with The Paw since July 2020. She is from Mankato, MN, and will be graduating in December from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a Bachelor’s in Social Work. Animals have always been a constant in her life and she enjoys hanging out and spending time with them. Amber has her own little pack at home with two 14-year-old Shih Tzus; Charlie and Lucy and four cats; Shadow, Maverick, Dino & Rex. 

What she loves most about working at The Paw is meeting all the different breeds and types of personalities of each animal. Amber's favorite thing about her job is meeting a shy, timid dog on their first day and seeing how they blossom and show their personality once they become comfortable. She loves the relationships she has built with all animals and clients walking through the doors. She also enjoys the relationships built with each one of her amazing coworkers and the team we have built. When Amber is not working, she enjoys spending time with her own animals, spending time outside and being active, and watching the newest shows/movies. 

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Customer Service Associate / Pet Care Assistant

Vivian has been working at The Paw since April 2022. She is from Prior Lake, MN, and is currently attending Minnesota State University, Mankato majoring in Business. Her current loving companion is Whiskey a golden retriever/poodle mix.

Vivian’s favorite thing about working at The Paw is the customers and her coworkers. Whether the customers are humans or dogs being around them makes her day 100% better. It brings her joy to see the dogs and get to know their owners. Her coworkers make work a great place to be because of the team and no matter how bad of a day goes we have a great relationship.



Front Desk Associate

Brianna started working at The Paw in March 2023. She is originally from Winona, MN, and moved to the Mankato area in 2022. At home, she has a chocolate lab named Cash. In her free time, Brianna loves to cook and do anything outdoors. Her favorite part about working at The Paw is getting to build relationships with the dogs and their owners.

Pet Care

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Pet Care Attendant / Maintenance

Francis started working at The Paw in November 2018. He is from Stillwater. His first pet is Duke, a Staffordshire bull terrier and his favorite dog breed is any bully breed.

Francis’s favorite things to do outside of work are playing video games and bicycling. His greatest strength is his patience. Francis enjoys working at The Paw because it makes him feel like he is part of the Mankato community and loves all the dogs.

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Customer Service Associate / Pet Care Attendant

Miranda started working at The Paw in January 2022. Her hometown is Algona, Iowa. her greatest strength is her creativity and compassion. Miranda’s current furry companions are JiJi, a black DSH cat, and Minture, a Yorki/Maktese mix. Her favorite dog breed is a Schnauzer.

When Miranda is not working she enjoys playing video games & role-playing tabletop games; creating art such as drawing, oil painting, and mixed media; watching anime & horror movies; listening to podcasts and anything pop culture related. She loves working for The Paw because it has provided the opportunity to build fulling relationships with the customers we serve, whether 2-legged or 4.

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Pet Care Attendant

My current pet: 3 dogs named Macy, Pip, and Cici

My favorite breed: Australian Shepherds

My hometown: Mankato, MN

My hobbies: I dance a lot and love to hang out with friends

My greatest strength: I am determined

Describe dogs in one word: Passionate

I enjoy working for a small business because you get to know your co-workers better!

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Pet Care Attendant

Cheyenne joined The Paw in February of 2023. She is a local from Mankato, MN. Her favorite part about working at The Paw is being able to get to know all the dogs well and making good relationships with her coworkers.

Her favorite breeds are Schnauzers and Golden Doodles. When Cheyenne is not working or at school, during her free time she enjoys bowling, photography, and hanging out with her friends. Her greatest strength is determination and understanding.


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Grooming Technician

Laura grew up in the country, in Mapleton, MN. She has always had an animal, from hedgehogs and birds to dogs and horses. She has a mixed-breed rescued pup named Thelma, who is 7 years old.

Laura learned about grooming as an assistant at The Paw's grooming salon in 2010. She found that she loved grooming and expanded her skills, becoming a lead groomer. Laura enjoys building relationships with all of her clients and being able to make dogs feel good! In her free time, she is active in sports, especially softball and volleyball, and spends time with her family.

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Grooming Technician

Hanna started grooming in 2015 and joined The Paw’s grooming team in July 2020. She has seven snakes; three Western Hognose, two Ball Pythons, a Milk Snake, and a Columbian Boa, as well as two Leopard Geckos. She has hopes of adding a dog to the family soon. Until then, she enjoys getting her dog fix through grooming.

Her favorite part about her job is that every day is different. Each dog keeps her on her feet and she loves the puppy kisses. Hanna’s outside hobbies include all things nerdy, pop culture, Japanese culture (Anime), and road trips in her RV.

Dog Training

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Dawn Finch

Dog Trainer

I have been training dogs at The Paw since 2007, and Pet Expo since 2002. Dogs have always been a big part of my life. My family once raised Brittanies, and we were active in the MN Brittany Club, competed in field trials, obedience shows, and conformation shows, as well as hunting and field training. Throughout my adult life, my interest in dogs and dog training has only grown. I currently participate on a national level in agility, conformation, rally, obedience, and herding. I have had the opportunity to own and work with a wide variety of dogs - Brittany, Labrador Retriever, Miniature Pinscher, Rat Terrier, Basset Hound, Old English Sheepdog, Bluetick Coonhound, Australian Cattledog, Portuguese Podengo Medio, and mixed breeds. They have all given me experience in the diverse personalities and training needs of a wide variety of dogs. It brings me joy to share my lifetime of canine knowledge as an instructor. I enjoy competing with my dogs. However, my number one priority is for my dogs and me to have a strong bond. This is also my goal for every student team and family who comes through my classes.”

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Linda Murray

Dog Trainer

I have been training at The Paw since 2007, and at Pet Expo since 2004. I have attended obedience classes offered by almost every instructor in the Mankato area, beginning in 1976. In 1995, I attended my first agility class in St. Cloud. Since 2000, I have offered classes in Rally, Back Packing, Weight Pulling, Carting, Sledding, Nosework as well as Obedience Training. My own dogs have titled in obedience, rally, sheep herding, lure coursing, snow pull, weight pull, agility, conformation, Barn Hunt, therapy, and working Samoyed titles. I am a member of numerous dog clubs and offer a diversified background of dog knowledge to my students.

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Ann Dirksen

Dog Trainer

I am very versed in animal care and have worked hard to earn my position at The Paw. After completing my Animal Behavior College Externship in 2018, I came to The Paw and assisted Dawn and Linda with their classes. Before moving to Mankato, I groomed many families’ and friends’ dogs for over 25 years. I foster dogs from Minnesota and other southern states. My husband and I have always had 3 to 5 dogs and a few cats; until we moved to Mankato. I  currently have Windy (pictured) but before Windy was Rusty, a 14-year-old deaf, toy poodle that I adopted, and our cat, Alice in Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland was the only survivor in her litter, and they wondered if she would make it!

Rusty is proof that “You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!” He graduated from all levels of Obedience classes and participated in fast-cat and nose/scent work using my own sign language.  He then passed the CGC test and novice trick dog assessment. Rusty also passed the therapy dog test with the Alliance Therapy Dogs, so he is a certified Therapy Dog.

The Paw gives me the opportunity to use my problem-solving skills to work with people and their dogs.  I enjoy helping people train their dogs to be better family members. I treat each dog as if it were my own.

In the past, I have trained/owned a German Shepard, a German Shorthair, several Toy and Miniature Poodles, Terriers, Labs, and German Shepherd Lab Mixes, most of which were abused or neglected and no longer wanted by their owners before I got them. Since working at The Paw I have helped owners train many other sizes and breeds of dogs from the small Yorkie, Chihuahua, and Dachshund to the big Great Dane, St. Bernard, Bernese, and Newfoundland.