Gone to the Dogs in Salida and Buena Vista is under new ownership. Founders Laura and Tony Bussing have retired, “passing the leash” to new owners, Sasha and Tom Smalley. Sasha is one of the groomers at the Salida operation who approached the Bussings about buying the business.
“I’ve always wanted to own my own business and I’ve admired what Laura and Tony have done with Gone to the Dogs. It seemed like just the right fit for Tom and me when we moved back to Salida this year,” said Smalley.
Smalley says that customers will continue seeing the same friendly faces in the stores, as no staffing changes are being made. They intend to keep the tradition of friendly customer service and product offerings that have made Gone to the Dogs a 12-year business success.
The Smalleys have strong ties to the community, as they have lived here in the past and Sasha grew up in Saguache. They both have family and friends in the area and are excited to put down roots in Chaffee County. Community members might recognize Tom as a talented ski racer from years past. In fact, the new owners say they would like to have a Gone to the Dogs Town Challenge Team this winter.
The Bussings started Gone to the Dogs in 2009 with a location in downtown Salida. In 2013, they opened the second location in downtown Buena Vista. In 2016, the Bussings opened a store on Highway 50 where the Salida location still is today. In a similar trend, they moved the Buena Vista location to Highway 24 in 2019. What started as a “mom and pop”, has grown into a multi-location business with eight employees.
The Bussings won’t be idle. They plan to continue full-time living in their motorhome, traveling to dog agility competitions and seminar teaching assignments. Laura Bussing is a well-known seminar presenter and competitor in the dog agility world. In November, she will be competing at nationals at the U.S. Open in Florida. Next, she will travel to Pennsylvania to compete for a spot on the United States European Open agility team with the American Kennel Club.
“I am excited for this next chapter in our life. Gone to the Dogs was my vision and after 12 years, it is the perfect time to turn it over to amazing local people that will take it to the next level,” she said. “Now that Sasha and Tom are the owners, it gives me a greater opportunity to follow my passion and dreams. I’ve always wanted to try out for a World Team; it has taken many years of training and perseverance to get to this point. My four-year-old Border Collie “Cam” and I are now ready to go for it.”
“We still own property in Chaffee County and love being a part of this community. I will be back to snowmobile in the winter while Laura teaches, and we both will be back in the summer,” said Tony Bussing. “Laura will continue to teach agility classes at Gone to the Dogs in the summer and we’ll host a dog agility competition in July.”