Happy yapping, yowling and yakking filled the 1,400-square-foot space once filled with blooms, bulbs and bouquets at 503 W. 12th St. Sunday.

It was the monthly play date for the Northwest Georgia Schnauzer Club. But instead of being outside in a wet and muddy dog park after Saturday’s storm, they were dry and cozy in the new Schnauzers and Friends Social Club facility created by Hugh Tyner — the same man who brought Schnauzerfest to Rome last September.

Housed in the recently-closed Rome Florist building near the corner of North Fifth Avenue and Martha Berry Boulevard, the members-only club slated to open Friday is a first for Rome and is expected to draw a variety of dog owners looking for a comfortable alternative to outdoor dog parks.

“It’s wonderful because it’s cool in here and the summers are so hot,” Elaine Turner said after her miniature schnauzer Finley attempted to climb over the tall, handmade agility ramp that soon will be replaced with a regulation-size piece of equipment.

Although Turner said she would have to see how much the monthly fee would be to join the Schnauzers and Friends club, she loved the idea and hoped to be able to join with her daughter, Becca Turner. All told, their family has four schnauzers.

Louise Popham, executive director of Schnauzerfest Rome 2019 and now executive director of Schnauzers and Friends, said the membership fee will be $35 per month or $350 per year.

“We’re very excited to offer this unique opportunity for dog lovers to gather and enjoy a cup of coffee and a warm and inviting fireplace area while their dog plays in the climate-controlled gym,” Popham said. “We’re also excited to announce we will be adding a 3,000-square-foot outdoor ‘Oasis’ play area complete with swings, a barbecue area, fire pits, water features and agility apparatus’ for you and your fur babies to enjoy.”

Starting next month, Tyner will be offering agility and obedience training to dogs that qualify.

Membership qualifications to join Schnauzers and Friends includes a meet and greet process to assess behavior and how the dog responds to and socializes with other dogs and people. Proof of vaccinations is required and must be current at all times.

The facility also will serve as the home office for “Schnauzer-Ween,” a Rome event scheduled for the end of October billed as the world’s largest gathering of schnauzers.

“This year’s parade will feature over 1,000 dogs and their owners in Halloween costumes,” Popham said. “It’s a sight not to be missed!”

Schnauzers and Friends will be open Tuesday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 1 to 8 p.m. They will be closed on Mondays.

Popham and Tyner can be reached at 706-584-7535 and schnauzerfestrome@gmail.com. They also have a Facebook page “Schnauzers and Friends Social Club.”

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