Mile High Fluffies

As new owners of a Doggy Daycare, we tried to honor any customer’s request.  The previous owners always said to put a smile on your face, agree to anything the pooch’s parents wanted and then do the opposite.  Were they crazy?  We had high standards as business owners entrusted with the care of someone’s furry child and refused to be THAT type of kennel owner, the Jekyll and Hydes we had heard about in our industry.

One big no-no was putting the beds in the kennel that the thoughtful parents brought for their dogs, according to the prior owners.  They advised us to just put them on top of the kennels, let the dogs sleep on the concrete and then politely return them to the owners when they picked up their pooch at the end of their stay.  Trying to achieve our goal of being the “best” kennel ever, we ignored any advice we had received and proudly put dog beds into kennels. We had no problems for weeks and were thinking what awful owners those prior people were.  Boy, were we in for a surprise!

black labsOne weekend, an adorable pair of female black Labrador Retrievers came in for a short stay.  Their mom, as moms will do, brought an enormous bed that was so large that it covered the entire floor of one of our huge kennels.  It was made out of a beautiful antique quilt and I repeatedly asked the owners if they were sure about putting this lovely bed in with their young dogs.  She related to us that her girls had never been left alone and she wanted them as comfortable as possible.

That night the small black Lab duo, ran excitedly into the kennel and looked out at us as if to say, “Wow, this has been such a great day of play with all our new buddies and now we get to sleep in this cool room with our big fluffy bed? Cool!”  We left for the night feeling confident of our decision to provide new and improved ways to manage a kennel.

Every day started at dawn’s early light because we were anxious to see our overnight guests.   As we did every day, we quietly entered the building, disarmed the alarms and got the pooches out quickly. Before turning on the lights, I would let them bound outside to join our small staff. However, on this particular morning, when we went to let these girls out, all we could see were 2 pair of shining eyes and nothing else….nothing else but a kennel full of bed stuffing…..fluffies about 4 feet high….that had poured into the kennels on either side and which spread everywhere when opening the kennel door!

After getting everyone outside, I wondered where to start cleaning up the ever expanding pile of fluff with no bed in sight.  I was praying the young dogs had not eaten it.  I filled big trash bags, one after another, hoping that the owner could stitch the bed back up, and Viola! the bed would be returned to its original beauty….if I ever found it!

After hours of herding fluffies, the job was done, ready to face the potentially angry customer, disappointed in our care over the prized bed.  When they arrived, anxious to pick up their rambunctious young girls, I apologized and was afraid of how they would react.  At least I had taken the time to gather everything up, trying to make lemonade out of lemons!

Mom promptly handed back the bags of stuffing and the beautiful quilted shell of a bed and politely asked me to throw everything away.  No big deal, she said, because she wasn’t that crazy about the bed anyway.  It was too big for their car especially when they were traveling across the country like they were doing now.

I was stunned…we had not picked up a new customer that would come back for the rest of their lives because of our wonderful customer service!  But, the owners were absolutely thrilled when their girls ran around the corner, all in one piece, clean and happily jumping up to greet their parents.  They exclaimed that this was the best kennel they had used during their summer journeys.  As new kennel owners, what more could we have asked for?

What’s the moral of this story?  We began limiting which dogs could get beds in their kennels, but we were honest with their owners explaining it was for their safety only. We also listened more intently to advice from other more knowledgeable and experienced kennel owners.  Eating beds or anything in sight is typical of some excitable puppies, especially Labs!  No more Mile High Fluffies ever again.

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