Is your favorite pooch starting to look a little frazzled? Or, perhaps you are scheduling a much need few days for yourself and are wondering what to do with Spot or Fideo or Boomer. The answer to both quandaries might just be to check your pet into a boarding facility so both of you have a few days off.
These days, no self-respecting canine wants to just hang out in a plain old kennel. Dogs in the know want more, and local pet boarding operations can provide it. If long walks on the beach — OK, maybe not the beach, this is North Texas after all — but walks in the woods for sure, playtime with the other tail-wagging guests, a quick dip in the pool, and relaxing while watching Direct TV’s Doggie Channel on a 42-inch flat screen television, sound appealing to you, it probably will to your pet as well.
“Boarding is a good activity for a dog if you set it up right,” said Jason Godwin, a certified dog behaviorist who runs the Kennels on Farmington in Elmont, just west of Van Alstyne. “We’re highly active; we play a lot out here.”
Godwin doesn’t train dogs per se at his operation, but he does work with owners who board there to address any problems the dog and the owner are having.
“Our customers seem to like that, and I like it because it puts the pressure for success on the owner to work the dog at home,” he said.
This home away from home for your pet is just that.
“We have two, two-story homes on our property,” Godwin said. “I live in one and board two dogs in that home, and right across the driveway is another two-story home where we can board another 33 dogs. My busiest time is the summer. That’s summertime weeks when families are traveling and taking vacations.
“Two-thirds of my business are vacations, the other third are the consistent, come every week or so customers. People you wouldn’t think of — firefighters, families with odd schedules like doctors and nurses.”
Godwin said that any visit starts with letting your getting acquainted with the new surroundings.
“Some dogs arrive, and it’s Disneyland as far as they are concerned,” he said. “They just want to run and play and make friends, and you can tell that pretty easily if you’ve been working with dogs long enough. If the animal seems nervous, then over the first 24 hours, I would introduce him to my dogs, who are very relaxed, and see how he reacts with them.
“If he doesn’t take to that, he’ll spend more time in the house in an environment more like he is used to at home. When you pick him up, we’ll have an honest conversation about how much fun he had. The more dogs can associate with other dogs, the fuller their day will become.”
If the dog’s life at the Kennels on Farmington sounds like a week at camp, then time at Tailwaggers Country Pet Resort would be closer to Club Med.
Suzen Dennis, the owner and operator of the facility explained, “We opened in 1998 on 34 acres just outside of Van Alstyne. We board dogs and cats; we do doggies day off day care and provide grooming as well.”
Tailwaggers picks up and delivers pets to and from home and can handle more than 300 animals.
The cats live and play in a room with a seven-foot, wall mounted fish tank for their amusement and have all manner of cat toys to tweak their playtime. The dogs have access to a 42-inch flat screen TV tuned to Direct TV’s doggie channel as well as the usual toys and balls, and a swimming pool.
“We find that the little guys like to go for a swim so we have a smaller pool for them,” Dennis said.
Each dog is assigned a counselor during their stay, and Dennis said that when playing with other dogs, the staff groups them according to size, breed, temperament and age.
“I wouldn’t put a six-month-old Lab out with a 12-year-old,” she said. “We’ve got our sniffers and our cruisers. The sniffers go out and poke around and the cruisers are the hardcore players.”
Dogs are pack animals, and they love to be with their own kind. They have a good time. I urge people to socialize their dogs; take them around when ever they can, bring them into all different types of scenarios because what dogs don’t know or are unfamiliar with, they sometimes fear. So, I think it’s very important to socialize them.
Dennis suggests that owners should carefully consider the facilities and the programs before boarding a dog. Visit the place, speak with the staff, take a look around and see how the animals there are treated and how they are responding to what is often a new and uncertain situation.
“Over the 15 or so years of a pet’s life, most are going to need boarding at some point and they deserve the same care you would expect for any other family member,” she said.
As the old saying goes, “It’s a dog’s life.” But in the right location, with the right attention and care that might not be such a bad thing.