I had a revelation late last night concerning what I had been writing about the past two years. I have been so focused on the many funny and crazy stories we had from our days of owning a doggy daycare and kennel, that I forgot about the “bad and ugly.” You know, the last part from the “Good, Bad and Ugly” of the story I write every day and plan to publish a book about later this summer.
I first got the idea to write a book about the doggy daycare industry back in 2008, less than a year after starting our business “The Pooch.” Within less than a year, we had interviewed dozens of job applicants, and toured many other facilities, both in Colorado and other states. We heard unbelievable stories that employees unwittingly shared with us, about dogs that had died or had been hurt at their facilities. There was rarely an owner present at any of these facilities that we toured, only the $9 per hour employees that were sharing way too much information with us.
Many states do not regulate doggy daycare, or group play, which is ludicrous. Not every dog can “play nice” so we decided to caution dog owners on our brochures and website, front and center, that we accepted “no ruff stuff.” We were struggling to survive each and every day, our brand new business that started up just a few months before the 2008-2009 recession. We were turning away potential dogs and revenue, but we did it and thrived as a result. Other dog owners were grateful that we didn’t accept dogs that weren’t socially acceptable in a doggy daycare.
Its really hard to look into someone’s eyes and tell them that there dog doesn’t fit your criteria after they willingly filled out a detailed intake sheet and went through the initial “meet and greet.” However, we always provided other options including training and behavior modification or kennels that still did it the old fashioned way with separate dog runs, no group play time, therefore keeping them safe and separate and much cheaper to operate.
A veterinarian we knew told us many stories about a popular daycare and kennel near our place. Every single day they would drop off injured dogs at the vet’s office morning to afternoon, then come over with a big van late in the day to scoop them all up before the owners came for pick up time. The crazy thing is this place not only kept their doors open, they expanded and opened a second facility in an area across the highway near a new suburb being built with thousands of new homes.
Why do you think they are so popular? Because their facilities are new, bright and shiny and look lovely from the outside and in the lobby, but many of our employees sought jobs with us because the conditions behind the front door were deplorable. Very few owners ever ask for a tour and assume if the outside is pretty, the place must be great for their Pooch!
Many people only look skin deep at everything in life and it is so true in this business. Even the popular “big box” kennels and daycare facilities are nothing like they appear, allowing shoppers to look through that clean glass into a tiny play area with a few nice dogs barely playing. Guess where they take them to potty? The asphalt right outside the front door. There are no nice outside playgrounds with turf and covers to protect them from the elements, only the skinny trees in concrete 2 x 2 squares out in front of their well known pet supply stores located on every corner.
The horror stories we have heard over the years is really heartbreaking and I will be sharing some of these stories with you at times if anyone is interested. This blog is for ALL dog owners and I would love to hear from you, so please let me know what you want to hear about or what you have enjoyed reading.