Tuesday, May 24, 2022
May 24, 2022

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Holiday fun goes to the cats and dogs near Brush Prairie

Susie’s Country Inn for Dogs and Cats gets into seasonal spirit with dazzling decorations

By , Columbian Features Editor
Published:
17 Photos
A small figurine of a person and a dog sits in front of a decorated dollhouse on at Susie's Country Inn for Dogs and Cats on Northeast 159th Street near Brush Prairie.
A small figurine of a person and a dog sits in front of a decorated dollhouse on at Susie's Country Inn for Dogs and Cats on Northeast 159th Street near Brush Prairie. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Like everything at Susie’s Country Inn for Dogs and Cats near Brush Prairie, the holiday decorations are over the top.

They include a life-size Santa, a reindeer-drawn sleigh, a dog-and-cat Nativity scene and dazzling white lights.

All that is layered over year-round features that might be considered unusual for a kennel and dog obedience school, like the gazebo and replica chapel.

“We thought we needed a country church to go with the country school,” kennel owner Susie Osborn said in a softened drawl.

Originally from Texas, Osborn opened the kennel with her husband, Bill, in 1993 after moving from Hillsboro, Ore. Her son and daughter-in-law help her run the business. But there’s no doubt this is Susie’s place. Her influence touches every nook and cranny, often in the form of antiques and knickknacks she has collected.

2021 Holiday Lights

Lights and other holiday decorations fill the yard outside Susie's Country Inn for Dogs and Cats on Northeast 159th Street near Brush Prairie. Holiday fun goes to the cats and dogs near Brush Prairie
Like everything at Susie’s Country Inn for Dogs and Cats near Brush Prairie, the holiday decorations are over the top.
Brant Buchanan and his dad, Brad Buchanan, decorate 15309 N.E. 7th St. in Vancouver with 100,000 lights. Take a tour of holiday lights in Clark County
If you’re looking for holiday cheer, these Clark County residents invite you to drive by their houses. To see photos, find this story on Columbian.com.

Susie’s looks more like a motel than a kennel, right down to private suites with TVs for dogs ($52 a night).

“I never wanted my place to feel like a kennel,” she said. “I wanted it to feel like home, like you’re wrapped up in it. We go out of our way to make dogs feel real comfortable.”

During the summer, Osborn festoons Susie’s in red, white and blue. Then she decorates for Halloween. But it’s the Christmas season that really catches her fancy. She spends all of November unpacking boxes of decorations, so many she can’t name a favorite. As she gave visitors a tour, she pointed out one item after another — a dollhouse decked out in holiday style, a “Meowy Christmas” sign, a dog doo ornament on the Christmas tree just inside the kennel’s entrance.

“I love the lights. I love my Nativity scene,” she said. “I love all my stuff.”

Gail Gehrke and her husband, Richard, have relied on Susie’s any time they needed to board their Newfoundland, Sadie, for the past nine years. Gehrke urged The Columbian to feature Susie’s holiday decor.

“It brings joy to us,” she said. “You feel like a kid again.”

Gehrke said she marvels at the extensive and thoughtfully arranged decorations. She pointed to the “Mrs. Claus bakery” display Osborn set up in the kitchen window of her house, which lies at the front of the property with the kennel buildings behind.

Osborn said she’s not much of a baker, but she first arranged that display last Christmas, when COVID-19 precautions kept her from inviting clients into her home as she normally would.

“When COVID hit, I was scared,” she said.

Business has recovered, she said. Susie’s has eight spots for cats and 53 for dogs.

“I never wanted to be big,” Osborn said. “I wanted to be good. I didn’t want to be so big I couldn’t be good.”

You can’t see all the Christmas glitter just driving by Susie’s Country Inn for Dogs and Cats, 7418 N.E. 159th St., but Osborn said you’re welcome to stop by during business hours. Susie’s is closed Wednesday, but open 8 a.m. to noon Sunday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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