Tag Archives: Bark Avenue

Faces of Omaha 2018

April 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Faces of Omaha is an annual sponsored publication that introduces a variety of “faces,” local industry leaders and experts, to the community. This exclusive publication was carefully cultivated​,​ so only one person and company per business category is invited to participate.

In the publishing industry, this sort of publication is known as “native advertising.” Native advertising is a unique form of sponsored content produced by editorial staff in conjunction with advertisers. The end result is an enjoyable book that has value to both the readers and advertisers.

Everyone featured in the book is truly the “face” of their field. Our sales team spent considerable time cultivating this list.

The following pages introduce more than 100 people and companies, the leaders in their respective areas of expertise, who stand ready to serve their community.  

Todd Lemke, publisher Omaha Publications

This sponsored content was printed in a special annual. To view, click here: Faces of Omaha 2018

Suzanne Wilke

April 6, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Nearly 20 years ago, the importance of safe, off-leash play for dogs was a new concept set forth by dog experts. Bark Avenue owner Suzanne Wilke traveled to the East Coast to learn about this idea and returned to Omaha to open a daycare for dogs. “We really paved the way,” she says. What started as a one-room facility open on alternating days for small and big dogs quickly evolved into what is now a five-room space complete with four outdoor play areas.

“We know dogs well,” says Wilke. “Dogs need rules and they like structure.” She further explains that dogs make friends with other dogs at daycare and will get excited on days when they know they’ll see their friends. Dogs get plenty of interaction with each other under the watchful eyes of the staff. “We have consistent protocol,” says Michelle Vidlak, manager of the facility. “We take extreme preventative measures to ensure the dogs are safe and having a good time.” 

“Our staff is amazing and love what they do,” says Wilke.  


Bark Avenue
13706 C St., Omaha, NE 68144
402.933.4007
barkavenueomaha.com

This sponsored content appeared in Faces of Omaha 2018. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/faces_2018/14

Suzanne Wilke

October 16, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Suzanne Wilke pulls up to her dog grooming store and exits her white Pathfinder with an exuberant wave and a giant smile on her face. She walks indoors and is immediately greeted with a barrage of barking dogs and friendly smiles. She picks up a chair and suggests we talk outside. “It’s too nice to be inside.” As we make our way to the storefront, we are greeted by multiple friends and customers picking up or dropping off their furry loved ones. Wilke greets everyone with the same friendly demeanor.

Wilke, who turns 60 in December, is a cancer survivor and owner of Bark Avenue Omaha, a grooming and daycare center for dogs. Her business is expanding, servicing 60-100 dogs per day. She is a rare breed whose ethics come from hard work and determination. Not satisfied with a mundane routine, she keeps herself active. “I hope to always keep that mentality, to stay busy enough where I don’t really have to worry about staying young,” Wilke says.

Her passion for dog grooming started at a young age. When she was 14, she started helping out at her aunt’s grooming shop. “There is just an art to it,” she exclaims. “My brain clicked, and it just came naturally to me.” So it would only make sense that from then on Wilke would follow her love for dogs and eventually begin her own business.

Though Wilke’s love for grooming only increased over the years, by age 23, in 1979, she took an apprenticeship with a plumber’s union as the only female apprentice. Wilke’s father, who was also a plumber, let her know that he wanted his daughter to have a career. “I was focusing on grooming, but my dad was always saying, ‘you need a career,’ and I didn’t want to do anything that confined me.”

After a few years of her apprenticeship, Wilke was no stranger to physical labor and eventually left the plumber’s union to begin a more promising job as a Union Pacific Railroad freight welder.

“I was the only woman to do that.”

suzannewilke2

She smiles and explains some of her duties. “I welded hopper cars and did physical labor down in the shops of the Union Pacific Railroad.” Wilke continued to work at Union Pacific until 1988.

As Wilke began to figure out what career she wanted to pursue, she did not abandon her true passion, grooming dogs on weekends. She never lost her clientele regardless of what she was doing. “I still have clients that I had 35 years ago. Because they still have dogs.”

Unfortunately, in 1991, Wilke was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare malignant tumor. Wilke battled her way to make a full recovery only a year later. With a rare cancer, treatment was never easy. “They really didn’t know what to do for me.” However, she knew that there was something more. “I’ve always sat back and tried to understand what my purpose was. There’s got to be a purpose for me to be here.” After recovery, Wilke continued to work part time grooming dogs, but in 2000 she decided to open Bark Avenue.

As time progressed, Wilke maintained a healthy lifestyle both mentally and physically. She was in a position to do what she loved and make a living at it. However, in November 2015, Wilke suffered from a stroke that affected her speech and ability to walk. “It took me from November until the end of March to feel like I could get everything the way I needed it.” Much like other situations in her life, Wilke took this head on and conquered it. She shows no signs of health problems only a year after her stroke.

Today, she still grooms dogs on a daily basis and exercises every day. “There are all kinds of things we do in our lives that we feel passionate about,” says Wilke, who also enjoys camping, riding motorcycles, and four-wheeling.

Michelle Vilak, a good friend of Wilke and manager of Bark Avenue, says, “(She’s) the hardest working woman I have ever met. She’s inspirational and my best friend.” After spending an afternoon with Wilke, truer words could not have been said.

Visit barkavenueomaha.com for more information. Sixty-Plus in Omaha.