When French bulldogs Cruz and Annie see Gindy’s Pet Resort through a car window, their excitement is immediate.
The dogs’ owners, Margaret and William Jackson, send Cruz and Annie one afternoon a week for doggie daycare at Gindy’s in Longview.
“They love it here; it gets them energized,” Margaret said. “They get to play; they love to play. They love to interact with the other dogs. Everybody here is wonderful. They go home and they’re rested (and) have a great evening.”
Doggie daycares give canines a chance to play and socialize instead of staying home in crates or in backyards by themselves. The dogs also are fed and get a nap time.
Carol Mitchell has left her dogs, Bently and Bailey, at doggie daycare once a week for about two years, she said. The dogs get to play with others instead of just each other, like at home.
“They squeal when we pull up,” she said. “They know when they’re here and they love it. And they’re tired when they go home.”
Tonya Read, owner of Creature Comforts in Longview, said daycare is a chance for dogs to get the interaction with others that they need.
“Dogs do love to play, they like to play chase ... and they do like to socialize and they like to cuddle and they like to lick each other’s faces,” Read said. “It’s just good for dogs to play and socialize because they are more of a group type of animal.”
However, daycare is not a place for dogs to learn how to socialize, Read said. A dog that does not know how to play well with others runs the risk of hurting another, so there’s an evaluation process.
First, a dog is observed by staff, Read said. The animal interacts with employees, and they evaluate how well it responds to a kennel and other basic commands. If the dog responds well, it is put in the yard with a few other animals at a time.
If dogs respond well to the observation, an all-day evaluation is scheduled, Read said. The process helps keep other animals safe.
“People are trusting us,” she said. “They’re coming here for the dogs to play and have fun and go home happier than when they came — not the opposite — so we’re very hands-on and strict with daycare.”
Lacey Hollingshead, daycare director at Gindy’s Pet Resort, said her center has a similar process.
The dogs first get to know the staff and then are slowly introduced to other animals, she said.
A day in a dog’s life
When Linda Johnson drops off her Yorkie, Koko, at Creature Comforts, she knows the canine will have plenty of outside time.
“They play, they have swimming pools outside, and Koko, if the swimming pools out, she’s in it,” Johnson said. “She loves the pool.”
The first thing the dogs do when they arrive at Creature Comforts is go outside, said Maya Silverstein, daycare supervisor.
Small dogs first go into the fenced off yard, where there are small plastic pools filled with water, playground equipment and a splash pad. The dogs run to their hearts’ content, playing with other canines and employees.
The supervisors oversee the activity, monitoring if a dog is playing too rough or exhibiting any other type of bad behavior.
After about an hour of play, Silverstein said the small dogs move into an indoor playroom, while their larger peers enjoy a couple of hours in the yard. All the dogs have a meal and a nap at around 11 a.m. —and then the playing starts again.
At Gindy’s, Hollingshead said owners can either bring their dogs’ own food or choose from what the facility offers.
Why doggie daycare?
Many pet owners opt to leave their dogs at home when they’re away, but Johnson said Koko is like her child, and she knows her fur baby will have a good day at daycare.
“Koko had a lot of energy when she was younger. She still has a lot of energy now, but it gives her an outlet for all of that,” Johnson said. “It just makes her rest better and act better at home.”
Hollingshead said doggie daycare helps with canines’ behavior.
“Mostly bad dog behavior comes from boredom, so if you’re leaving your dog at home and he’s tearing up stuff it’s because he doesn’t have anything to do while you’re not there,” she said. “Bringing them here is a good way to solve the problem of them being bored.”
The Jacksons bring Cruz and Annie so they do not have to put them in their kennels when they run errands or have other obligations away from home.
“It’s overall good for the dogs,” Margaret said. “It’s good for their temperament; it’s good for their activity.”
Shelley Carrington brings her Labradoodle, Gracie Mae, to Gindy’s once a week because she does not want her “new baby” bored at home when she is involved in other activities.
She said she knows she can trust the staff with the care of her dog, especially since her veterinarian, Kimbrough Animal Hospital, is part of the facility.
It’s not uncommon for doggie daycare employees to form connections with the dogs. Read and Hollingshead said they walk through their facilities talking to the dogs without needing to look at their name tags. They get to know the animals’ personalities, owners and needs.
So do their employees.
“All of our girls just have so much love for these dogs and so much love for the owners; we love our clients,” Silverstein said. “We get really attached to these dogs. They’re all good.”