Along the main promenade in Sam's Town, a row of lush lawns borders one another, cordoned off from the pavement by a white picket fence lined with potted mums. When a hand pushes open the front door of a gable-roof ranch house or cottage, it's attached not to the body of Donna Reed but to that of a yelping canine, one of the overnight guests staying in each of The Dog Knowledge's miniature homes. When pooches aren't watching G-rated films on flat-screen TVs or lounging beneath ceiling fans in their private or bunk-bed abodes, they can venture out to play in a 2-acre facility or relax in a homey lounge filled with couches, tables, and framed photos of Roosevelt's scottish terrier signing The New Deal into law. The Dog Knowledge also grooms dogs' unkempt coats and chips away at unruly behaviors with one-on-one behavioral training, boot camps, and a therapy dog-training program.
At Club K-9 of Charlotte’s two locations, more than 30,000 square feet of space sprawls out for pups to tucker themselves out while their families work or travel out of town. Owner J.P. Brewer and her first-aid- and CPR-certified staff maintain a safe, clean environment where four-legged friends can have fun, exercise, and improve their social skills with little to no anxiety. During doggie daycare, the staff separates dogs by age, size, and temperament and supervises the centers’ indoor and outdoor play areas. Overnight boarding guests enjoy some of the same amenities found in hotels for humans, such as climate-controlled suites with elevated beds, quiet music, and dimmed lights. The Club K-9 team also pet-sits and performs dog-grooming services.
At City Dog, canines romp and play with cohorts under the cover of a 3,500-square-foot indoor play area or amid the fresh breezes of a 5,000-square-foot outdoor space. During doggie daycare, the watchful eyes of caregivers certified in CPR and first aid track pups as they scurry up stairs and scoot down slides like buttered toddlers. Pooches foster rapports with new four-legged friends and share toys before winding down for quiet time with soothing melodies. For an additional fee, City Dog's Canine Cab picks up and drops off furry friends each day.
Doggie daycare proves an integral part of overnight boarding, where dogs can wind down after a long day in a 5'x5' run with comfy bedding, a nighttime treat, and classical music. Pups rise for breakfast and individual playtime, followed by bonding with peers through games or support groups for coping with electric fences.
Three out of four of K9 Playland’s co-owners can’t answer the phone without barking. That’s because Alvin, Zoe, and Allie-Gator are a pug, dachshund, and german shepherd who belong to co-owner Erica Iglesias. Erica and her staff view their canine clientele as being every bit as important as these three pups.
When owners leave for top-secret CIA missions, dogs can take vacations inside 4’x8’ kennel spaces equipped with miniature cots and blankets. Doggy daycare takes place in a 4,000-square-foot indoor space where pups play in groups divided by age, size, and temperament, and an outdoor play area entertains with playground equipment, toys, and pools. The facility also offers gentle, meticulous grooming treatments, such as balmy oatmeal baths, in addition to training programs, which aim to instill perfect table manners and obedience deep in pets' psyches.
Susan Besides For dogs, days spent home alone are typically not as fun and fraught with feel-good high jinks as they were for Macaulay Culkin. At All Wags Doggie Daycare & Boarding, pets find canine camaraderie in an ample indoor play space or in the outdoor dog yard packed with enough playground equipment and toys to entertain pups and breed a deep sense of envy in local children. In addition to general care, the facility also offers grooming services including haircuts, nail trims, and ear cleanings.
In 2005, Karen McCombs left the corporate world. It was a big decision, but she had a simple reason: "I just decided I wanted to play with dogs," she says. Today, two of her sons work at the original All Wags location in Charlotte, and she and another son have headed out to open All Wags Doggie Daycare and Boarding North in Harrisburg. They've painted the 9,000 square feet of indoor play space with colorful canine murals, but there's also plenty of room outdoors for a dog to play ball, leap into kiddie pools, or plant its owner's flag on the peaks of plastic playground equipment.
The staff takes the time to get to know each dog, from their names to what they like and what they're scared of—and Karen says the dogs are excited to come in and play. She makes sure the staff ratio stays at about 10 dogs to 1 staff member during doggy daycare so that pooches get plenty of attention and exercise. Except for a two-hour rest period, the dogs are out and about the entire time, rather than being cooped up alone at home or made to sit in a cage and nibble listlessly on homework. "It's just a fun, exhausting day for [the dogs]," she says. "They go home and they're very tired." Dogs who are staying the night play with daycare dogs during the day, then retire to 4'x8' kennels with heating and cooling. To make sure everyone's safe, all supervisors are certified in pet first aid by the American Red Cross and have been endorsed by multiple doggy-sniff committees.
For Karen, working with her canine customers has been rewarding, and she knows their human owners appreciate the time she and her staff take to get to know their dogs and individuals. "Everybody's just so happy and ready to see you. It's not like that in the corporate world anymore," she says.
The loving staff at the AAHA- and AVMA-certified Caring Hearts Animal Hospital recognizes that pets are treasured members of the family. At the head of the facility are Drs. Lorie White and Laura Morefield, who oversee a practice equipped with comprehensive medical and surgical facilities. With more than 22 years of veterinary experience each, Drs. White and Morefield treat pets with acupuncture, behavioral medicine, dentistry, and emergency care. To that end, their animal hospital contains a lab and pharmacy, as well as radiology, surgery, examination, grooming, and boarding areas. Trainers also lead puppy and behavior classes, ensuring pups can lead obedient lives and will never eat dessert with a salad fork.