10 East Elm Street • Canton, Illinois • Phone (309) 649-1277
The History of Happy Hounds...
Even as a child, Donna Huggins was no stranger to animals. Growing up on a small farm in Central Illinois without computers, video games, cable television or even a phone meant she was always outside finding something to do. Aside from the cows, chickens, pigs, ducks and horses, Donna always seemed to find other animals she could call “pets”. Caterpillars, frogs, ant farms or a spider in a jar, it didn’t matter…she has had them all. Donna recalls the first pet she could call her own was a Guinea Pig named Squeaky.
“I remember that I was 8 years old, and that he cost $20.00. I don’t recall how I saved that much money at such a young age. Around the farm, we did chores because that’s what you did, but there wasn’t money involved for doing them. Some of my chores were to make sure the horses, dogs and cats had food and fresh water. I'd “help” grandpa gather eggs and take care of the
other animals. Truth be known, I was probably in the way more than I helped, but grandpa would never say otherwise.”
Living in the country, Donna recalls that there were also an abundance of stray animals.
“I remember a stray wiener dog that I “saved”. I remember when mom came home and found Suckie (kids come up with the strangest names) in bed with me. She said what’s that? I simply replied that it was a stray I had found. Shaking her head, she knew that she could not take him away from me.”
Chasing a Dream:
After several years of working in a cafeteria in a nearby manufacturing plant, Donna decided it was time for a change. Donna discussed her desire to change occupations with her mom, Pam Clayton, who also has a love for animals. Working hand in hand, the two spent several months talking, planning and weighing their options, until finally Happy Hounds was born. The duo officially opened for business on July 1st, 2004.
The pair started out making and selling homemade dog treats, and offering dog grooming services. Inside their tiny shop was a rocking chair that Pam would use to rock the dogs to keep them calm and at ease. The dog owners were always thrilled to see their beloved pets being so pampered, and both Donna and Pam knew they had chosen the right business.
After about a year into their business venture, some exciting changes took place. The local pet store closed, which led the pair to begin stocking small animals. Donna recalls, “We started with Hermit Crabs and all the accessories to go along with them. Little by little, our inventory started to increase.”
That’s when the second exciting thing happened. They ran out of space and needed to move. The need to expand was a sign that their business had a bright future and was growing quicker than they had anticipated, but it was also a little scary at the same time. Moving into a store that was twice the size of the original location meant that they could continue to expand their inventory, but it also meant they’d really need to save every penny they could to reach their goals. Finally, with $1000.00 saved up for their first order, they began stocking fish and fish supplies. Over the next four years the business began serving more and more customers, so Donna’s husband Steve began helping out at the shop. He soon realized that not only did he love animals; he really enjoyed being part of the store.
The Adventure Continues:
In 2012, they found they’d again outgrown their shop and moved the business to its 4th and current location at 10 East Elm Street. Even though this store is again double the size, not a single inch of space goes unused. Donna and Steve work together to make sure they have everything you need for the pets in your life. In fact, Happy Hounds is a full line pet store, minus dogs and cats.
“We feel there are way too many good dogs and cats at the local shelters that will make wonderful pets. For that reason, we will never sell either one."
Happy Hounds has plans to continue to expand its products and services, and looks forward to serving the needs of pet owners for years to come.
Donna, Steve, Joey and Vinny (a.k.a "the boys") are proud to call Canton their home, and thank all their loyal customers for helping make their business a continued success.