Whether you’re going on a cruise or working a 9 to 5 job, you don’t want to leave your kids with just anyone and furkids are no different; it’s likely you go through great pains to find the right day care or boarding facility for them. Different facilities offer different services, some offer training and grooming, while others just keep a mindful eye on their four-legged clients and give the dog’s owners peace of mind. Some host picnics and field trips. Owners should determine what they’re looking for first in a doggie day care facility and choose according to their needs. Many facilities require a sit-down with prospective enrollees to determine whether they play well with others or have a health issues that would endanger other dogs (i.e. parasites). Once the pet passes muster, it’s time to play! Many facilities have webcams so that the owners can watch their dogs whether they’re across town or across the globe. “Some people email us that they love watching the webcam and they don’t even have a dog!” says the owner of one day camp.
Separating The Men From The Boys
Many area doggie day care facilities have separate rooms- or separate sessions- for large and small dogs. At Tails R Wagging in Elmsford, N.Y., older dogs come in on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and younger dogs (one year old or younger) come in on Tuesday and Thursday. “On Fridays, we have older dogs and younger ones who behave. It’s all about respect,” says owner Ruth Magner.
At another doggie day camp there is a larger facility for large, active dogs and a smaller “pup tent” for small dogs, older dogs and shy dogs. Dogs have to be dropped off before 3 p.m. so that one dog isn’t wide awake when the others are getting sleepy from having played all day. At Bandilane in Stamford, dogs are separated according to size, personality and play style. “We have three rooms, one for small dogs, one for medium, less active dogs and one for boisterous, active dogs,” says owner Joyce Diamond.
At other facilities, the dogs all play together like one big happy family. “I first thought I’d have to separate the small and big dogs, but little by little I changed my policy,” says Eileen Fleming, owner of the facility. “The big guys instinctively play with the other big guys.” Fleming interviews prospective clients and overly aggressive and extremely timid dogs are declined. “It’s been five years of bliss. We’re in a constant state of happiness.”
Owners of prospective day care attendees at Best Friends in White Plains are interviewed and their dogs evaluated to see how well they get along with others. They are introduced to the pack only after they go to a vet and test negative for parasites, such as ringworm, tapeworm and such. “If they’ve recently been in different facilities, we have a two to 4 week waiting period to avoid contamination from things such as kennel cough,” says Sue Stewart, manager. Dogs also have to be spayed or neutered to attend day camp at Best Friends, but can board overnight if they’re not. “They just can’t socialize with others,” says Stewart. Best Friends also requires up-to-date rabies, bordatella and distemper vaccines. “We encourage people to come and take a look around to see if it’s right for them.” According to Stewart, “We are non-discriminatory in breeds.”
Most facilities have an area outside for the dogs to play, but even if they don’t, staffers make sure they get outside. One entrepreneur attests that her huge back yard was what drew her to the location. The owner, a dog groomer, couldn’t do day care at her previous location. “I only take 15 to 17 dogs a day and they’re never unattended. A lot of day care centers take a lot more dogs than I do. Here all the dogs hang out together.” Reining Cats and Dogs in Mt. Kisco, N.Y, is an indoors-only facility, but the dogs are walked every two hours, “rain or snow,” says the owner. That owner accepts a maximum of 25 dogs per day and there is one staff member per ten dogs.
Concierge At Your Service
Some dogs that are clients at area facilities can enjoy curb to curb service. “We have a fully equipped transportation van to bring dogs to and from the center,” says a general manager. In addition, an “At Home” service was initiated recently. “Someone stays with your dog in your home or will walk them, take them to the vet,” says the GM. In-home training is also available. And Best Friends offers a pick-up and delivery service for clients. Dogs that attend Camp Bow Wow get a lift from owner John Caro when their owner can’t bring them. “I’ve driven the van to Westchester, Manhattan and Long Island to pick up dogs to come here.” Caro adds that he transported a dog whose owner had a broken leg “Monday through Friday for two and a half months.” Caro also sees that dogs who require special diets get pampered. “We make special diets for dogs, like cooked rice when needed. We give all the dogs treats and food is included in the price.”
Day Care and Night Care
Some facilities are strictly day care and others offer boarding options, some only for day clients. Overnight stays at Best Friends are like slumber parties. “We have ice cream breaks and read bedtime stories to the dogs,” says Sue Stewart. Every month a calendar denotes different contests for day camp attendees. “We’ll have contests for the dog with the softest fur, the best watchdog, the best kisser. The winner gets a certificate and a picture,” says Stewart. Doggie day camp attendees get discounts for training classes and grooming.
Dogs staying at K9 Kindergarten in Verplanck sleep on couches, beds and futons along with staff members. During the day, dogs get treated on their birthdays with their friends and get to enjoy organized games, relay races, and musical chairs and, of course, doggie birthday cake. “We just started doing that a couple of months ago,” says owner Elissa Cohen. Training sessions not only include obedience but also tricks and freestyle dancing.
Back at Eileen Fleming’s business it is a 100% day care center. “All we do is day care,” Although there is no overnight boarding, Fleming and the staff take the dogs on field trips to where she has a country home. “We take the water-loving dogs to the river there and we make barbecued steak for them before leaving.”
Pets at Reining Cats and Dogs who are overnight clients go home with the owner herself or with other staff members. “We divvy them up amongst ourselves. I’ll take up to 5 dogs home with me,” says the owner. Dogs of similar size and temperament will go together. When the dogs get to her house, they sleep, tired from being active in day care all day. ”
And there’s also the “something in-between” option for regular clients some centers; members of an “after-hours club” can be left until 10 p.m. and are fed and walked. Owners do have to pick up their dogs by 10 p.m.
Peace Of Mind
Whether you’re leaving your dog for the day or the weekend or longer, staff members at area doggie day care facilities have your back. Many are certified trainers, some have vet tech experience or are certified by the American Red Cross to perform CPR and first aid and all facilities have a veterinary clinic they can call or go to if necessary. While being at day care, they can sometimes also be groomed before they come home. And pet owners can rest assured their four legged kids are having fun. ”
We always make sure they’re having a good time,” said John Caro. “Some dogs even open the doors to get inside. They can’t wait.”