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Doggy day care run by young adults with developmental disabilities opens on Indy's south side

Happy Hounds gives young adults living with developmental disabilities the opportunity to not only work but love what they're doing.

INDIANAPOLIS — They say when you love your job, you never work a day in your life. When you love dogs, how can you be anything but happy doing your job?

Happy Hounds is a new doggy day care, and it's giving young adults living with developmental disabilities the opportunity to not only work but love what they're doing. 

Happy Hounds, located at 111 W. Stop 11 Rd. on the south side of Indianapolis, officially opened its doors Sept. 1.

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"This has been a true labor of love for us," Jennifer Parker said.

Jennifer and her husband came up with this next venture as part of the Alex and Ali Foundation. Their son, Alex, has autism. 

The couple is also behind the Hope Gallery in Bargersville, which is named after their daughter. Hope was born with a severe congenital heart defect and died earlier this year on Feb. 25 at 13 years old.

"Hope will never go away," Jennifer said. "We'll never forget Hope. She's with us, but we also know that she lived her life with joy in the midst of a lot of pain and suffering for her, so we want to be able to do that as well."

As soon as you walk in the door at Happy Hounds, you see Hope.

"She was a big part of this," Jennifer said. "She painted the floors. She was here for all aspects of getting this ready."

Jennifer said her daughter, Hope, loved dogs.

"Hope taught us to love, and she loved everybody," Jennifer said. "We just want to fulfill her legacy of loving others, and that's what we're doing by providing an opportunity for people to work and people to work with dogs that they love."

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The team members will get to love on 25 dogs and play with them in the one-acre yard. Big dogs will be kept separate from smaller dogs. 

Happy Hounds is just a day care for now, but they hope to double in size and expand to boarding, training and grooming.

"We feel that all dogs deserve love, respect and the opportunity to play and that all people deserve love, respect and the opportunity to work," Jennifer said. "I know that our young adults are super excited to work. They want to work, and they work so hard, so we're thrilled."

Happy Hounds is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.

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