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.
Cooper got a rough start in life. At just three months old, the doberman-hound mix was found on the side of the road, a plastic bag over his head. Thankfully, Cooper's owners rescued him soon after, but his experiences left him with separation anxiety, aggression, and resistance to basic commands. Enter Glenn Shue, owner and lead trainer of Dogtastic Dog Training. Glenn's approach begins by first considering each canine's unique personality, which helps him tailor a training program that combines obedience training with proper socialization. Through one-on-one work with Cooper and his family, Glenn saw the pup through many of his behavioral problems, and he continues rehabilitating Cooper with occasional attention at daycare.
A graduate of Highland Canine Training’s school for dog trainers, Glenn and his team apply his teaching principles in each of their training programs. With an indoor training space at All Wags Doggie Daycare & Boarding, they organize group obedience classes and in-kennel training, as well as puppy training that focuses on building healthy social skills. Services further extend to private in-home training, where instructors teach dogs how to sit, stay, and mix martinis. Glenn's team also specializes in behavior modification for pets with aggression problems.
At Tuscarora's Country Club for Dogs, Vivian Kelly and her staff of caretakers groom and board dogs and cats on 30 acres of grassy pastures. An 8,000-square-foot play area entertains dogs that can play with companions and ample toys. Dogs are boarded in comfort in cageless suites replete with heating, air conditioning, and 24-hour music, and 24-hour security discourages them from committing investment fraud. Tuscarora's groomers treat coats with warm baths, massages to remove dander, and hand-scissored haircuts.
Doody is our duty, and we take our job seriously—with all our services 100% guaranteed. Our friendly, professional technicians pick up where your pet left off, so you don't have to. We're guessing you have much better things to do with your time!
As his parents' only human child, Dr. James Pressley of Brookdale Animal Hospital says the family pets were like his four-legged siblings. It was this relationship with his furry friends that likely propelled him to become a veterinarian. He and his staff enjoy fostering the same relationship with his clients' animal companions, a dedication that can be felt as soon as they step into the light-flooded reception room of his clinic. From the hallways to the treatment room, this bright atmosphere permeates the space, putting both owners and pets at ease even as they undergo wellness exams, dental procedures, and x-rays.
The staff members at Granbar Kennels care for all dogs' and cats' needs, whether boarding, grooming, or daycare. Certified master groomers bathe and clip fur of pooches of all shapes and sizes, and trainers lead obedience classes. During daycare, dogs may explore the fenced-in play areas and snack on housemade dog biscuits.
The team of veterinarians at Carolinas Veterinary Care Clinic have more than enough expertise between them—more than 10 years of experience apiece—but what really sets them apart is their bedside manner. The doctors tuck modern machines into a homey atmosphere, where they focus on getting to know pets and their owners. Once they’ve set their patients at ease, it’s much easier to create an individualized wellness plan that will keep cats, dogs, and their ESP skills healthy. They also tend to pets’ aesthetic and vacationing needs with a grooming salon and boarding area onsite.