A friendly woman came in one day asking questions about our Doggy Daycare program. She had left her dogs in the car while she was talking with us about her concerns about other daycare places her two Welsh Terriers had attended . Both were rescue dogs, given up by other families for the usual reasons, just like some people return shoes to the store because they just don’t look right.
The owner was intent about making sure she found a place that would love her two dogs as much as she did. Roger, a small male, had been accused of not fitting in with the crowd at the other places and was extremely uncomfortable around the staff according to the other facilities. Annie, an even smaller female got along with everyone, so the owner was trying to figure out how to find a place that was wiling to work with Roger’s challenging behavior.
After assuring her that we had seen every type of behavior and that we would be willing to try, the owner brought her two excited dogs into the front office. My husband got down on the floor and Roger slowly walked up to him, gave one quick cursory sniff and said, “At last, one of my own kind,” and crawled right into Will’s lap. His little stub of a tail was wagging all the while, while Annie looked on with disgust, totally ignoring Will and Roger. The owner was simply shocked as this was the exact opposite of what she had been led to believe.
The spunky pair came regularly while the owner taught classes at a progressive school program nearby. To save time on the way to work, the owner would honk her horn and we would run to the door to let them inside. Roger and Annie loved coming so much, that she would just let go of the leashes and the pair would scoot right in the door. That is until the day that I didn’t open the door quick enough and Roger leaped up in the air and hit the glass door about half way up and slowly slid all the way down the door, his face smashed up against it. Not fazed in the slightest, he shook his head and ran right in.
Roger was a charmer from the beginning, loved to play with everyone, and was always the life of the party. He got along with humans and pooches and Annie became more jealous of his good times each time they visited. She would run right up and nip him on his bottom, to remind him that he was supposed to be the bad boy and he wasn’t living up to his naughty reputation from the other places in town.
Their favorite time of the year was summertime. They both would charge through the sprinklers and jump up into the spray of water, running in circles of pure bliss. When the doggy pools came out, it was hilarious to watch those two having fun in the sun, splashing like crazy. They never wanted to stop and it was the only time that little Annie seemed to be having as much fun as Roger.
We always wondered why Roger had a bad rap from the other places. Could it be they confused the two dogs? Unlikely, as they didn’t look alike at all even thought they were the same breed. Did the other places just not pay attention to what Roger needed to feel comfortable or did he just pick up on some negative vibe, just like what happens when we walk into situations where we feel uneasy?
When looking at Doggy Daycares in your community, pay careful attention to what your dog is telling you when you pick them up after a day of play. They may not be able to tell you directly like your young children can do by “using their words”, as my grandchildren are encouraged to do. But dogs can tell us everything we need to know if we just pay close attention. We need to be more like this owner was doing, watching for cues that her dogs weren’t enjoying themselves at the places she had tried.
Roger was a carefree dog that learned how to love playing with other dogs once he felt comfortable and at ease. Annie had some health issues that were probably a result of getting stressed out. All of the commotion and craziness of Doggy Daycare was just a bit too much for her. Socialization is a critical part of a dog’s ability to interact comfortably with other dogs, but if not exposed to making friends at an early age, some dogs never grow to love it, like Annie and our own dog Mollie.
If your dog has a bad rap, it might not be your dog’s fault at all. You might not have found the right type of Doggy Daycare to bring out the best in your pooch. Tour several places, ask questions and listen to your pooch. They’ll let you know in a quick wag of a tail if they like it.