Four Paws Kingdom: A Campground for the Dogs
Rutherford County Farm Bureau Members Meik and Birgit Bartoschek often traveled up and down the East Coast to weekend art shows. Their mode of transportation was an RV so they could also bring their dog, Schroeder, a loveable tan-and-white corgi.
The more the Bartoscheks traveled, the more they found campgrounds that welcomed only them, but not their faithful canine companion. The campgrounds they ran across that didn’t forbid dogs altogether left only a small space for a minimal amount of exercise and bodily functions. They wanted to offer a place where dog owners like them could enjoy the North Carolina mountains and let their canines have as much pleasure.
That’s what led to Four Paws Kingdom, a 34-acre spread that uses every square foot for the benefit of guests who walk on either two or four legs. The campground offers nine different completely fenced dog parks that provide owners the chance to let their dogs off a leash to play with others similar in size.
A dog play pond, a tree-lined creek, hiking trails and an agility course for competitive dogs also are incorporated into the facility, which the Bartoscheks opened in 2003 after nearly abandoning the idea.
“It was meant to be because many, many things that we couldn’t foresee at the time or were not aware of fell into place for us. It wasn’t done overnight,” Meik Bartoschek says. “Like some of our campers say, it’s kind of like Disneyland for dogs. We have a little bit of everything, and you can just come and enjoy.”
The Bartoscheks worked for five-star resorts in Florida and elsewhere for more than 20 years, so they attempted to bring luxury elements for dog owners to Four Paws Kingdom, too. Cabins with porches and a fully equipped bathhouse are among popular campground amenities.
Visitors from each of the lower 48 states have come to stay for a week or more. Some have even spent the entire summer at a campground that’s an easy drive to some of Western North Carolina’s most popular tourist attractions.
“Our guests come from every walk of life. We have people who just love their dogs and just want to be with the dogs any which way they can,” Meik Bartoschek says. “We also have a group who does dog sports and are serious about it. They come to us because they can combine the vacation, relaxing idea plus an hour or two of training, which you won’t find anywhere else.”
The Bartoscheks have made additions and modifications to Four Paws Kingdom each year they’ve operated. One of the most substantial was making the campground for adults 18 and older only. The combination of children and up to 75 dogs on the property at the same time made it challenging to oversee. However, that’s been one of the few problems the Bartoscheks have encountered since the opening of Four Paws Kingdom made their dreams a reality.
“If it weren’t for Schroeder, we wouldn’t be here. Schroeder was our inspiration,” Meik Bartoschek says. “Even after seven years—and I say this with pride—there’s no other place like us in the United States that’s a dog-dedicated campground.”
Know Before You Go
Four Paws Kingdom in Rutherfordton, N.C., operates from April until late November. For more information, visit www.4pawskingdom.com or call (828) 287-7324.