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Idaho Life: Dog days of doing business

If you're a small business owner you probably already know how tough it is to get your company off the ground. And to make it work you sometimes have to do everything yourself, even the small stuff, which is sometimes the most fun stuff.

BOISE — "How are ya?" says Dr. Michael Marshall, walking into an examination room. "Good to see ya."

It's just another ordinary day at Boise's Veterinary Wellness Center and Dr. Marshall looks over Luna, a 3-month old Golden Retriever and one of his newest patients.

"And she's 12 weeks now?" Dr. Marshall asks Luna's owner.

In fact, all of Dr. Marshall's patients are fairly new since he only opened the clinic a few months ago.

"I started with zero clients, yeah," admits the veterinarian who recently moved his family to the Treasure Valley.

Starting from ground zero is why, when he finishes trimming Luna's little nails, Dr. Marshall puts on his business suit and steps out onto the sidewalk to try to pull in pet lovers, dressed in a dog costume.

"Well, we were just looking for a way to draw attention and it just became something we really loved," he says of walking the sidewalk in front of his office, waving at the passing cars.

And the drivers going by seem to love it, too, honking to show their appreciation.

"It doesn't take long!" Dr. Marshall says. "We get a lot of 'em. Only had one person give me the bird, that's it."

Birds? No, Dr. Marshall is more of a dog and cat kind of vet. And in his 17 years of practice he has never donned a dog suit.

"No, first time," he says.

So what if he's had five more years of schooling than most of us?

"Well, for a while," he says when asked how long he went to school. "I think I calculated it up to the 21st grade."

But it's really more like three, in dog years.

This daily display doesn't surprise those who work for the top dog, parading out front in puppy paws.

"Yeah he's..." says his receptionist, Jennifer Huston, who stops mid-sentence. "Have you ever seen his videos on Facebook?"

Yep, Dr. Marshall has also taken his talents to social media. Anything to get cats and dogs in the door. So curbside in a canine costume is exactly the kind of whimsy you would expect from a practice that also puts up puppy clocks, lucky cats, and pet portraits.

"We're here for whoever wants to come in," says Dr. Marshall.

Anyway you can get them to come in. Just another ordinary dog day for Dr. Marshall.

"It's just part of the day right now," he says. "In between patients."

Dr. Marshall says he studied veterinary medicine at the University of Georgia, so Dawgs are kind of part of his DNA.

The Veterinary Wellness Center is holding a holiday open house on Thursday, December 13. While there you can enter a raffle to win a pet hair vacuum.