Doggie Daycare

Most people love dogs. Having a dog around is a very strange thing if you think about it. In exchange for some food, dogs give us unconditional love 24/7, without question, no matter how they are feeling. The way we treat dogs is irrelevant; no matter what we do to them, they’ll turn right around and love us again. Their brains are programmed to live with humans this way, even though we’re not extra easy to live with.

I have always admired dogs for having this wonderful gift. Just imagine what we could achieve if we could harness the blind happiness and friendliness dogs offer up. If only I had a tail to wag at everyone I meet. I’d rule the world with that kind of power, but for dogs it’s simply a given.

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So what would dogs do all day if they were given the choice, outside of eating of course? I think they would want to be outside in a safe and familiar place to swim and play with other dogs. They’d play tag, play ball, bark, jump, get some human petting in, play fight, slobber all over each other… then they head into the air conditioning, have a nice meal, curl up on a comfy sofa and get to dreaming. Unfortunately, in the stressful go, go, go life most of us lead, our dogs end up spending a lot of time by themselves waiting for someone to offer love — only to find someone too tired to play. Well, there is a local lady who has an answer to the problem. Meet Stacy Busch-Heisserer and her pack of human enablers….

573: Tell us about Deer Creek Doggie Daycare.

Being the owner of Busch Pet Products I heard for years that people were unhappy about leaving their dogs alone. People want their dogs to be engaged, played with, worn out in a good way…not just left in a crate most of the day. Many kennels do no more than warehouse dogs while owners are at work. Why pay to have your dog in a crate all day when you can pay to have your dog played with, stimulated, and in turn, your dog comes home tired and happy? We thought we could do it better so we opened Deer Creek Doggie Daycare.

Our building is 4000 ft. with two extra-large yards for dogs to run and play. The indoor areas are divided into classrooms equipped with clean running water and comfy sofas to curl up on. Both outdoor play yards and all the indoor areas are laid with premium grade AstroTurf for health and comfort.

Today, most families see both adults working. The kids are in school or extracurricular activities, so where does that leave the dog? Doggie daycare isn’t a new concept, but has seen an increase in popularity due to our busy lifestyles. Who wants to have to come home after a long day of work only to have to deal with a crazy dog who only wants to play with the owners he’s missed? Dogs are social creatures. Most dogs love being social with other dogs. There are always a few exceptions. The interaction, coupled with supervised play, gives dog owners a tired but happy dog. No one wants their dog to be tired because he’s been stressed out all day.

573: Do the dogs get mad?

Before we accept a Camper, its owner has to fill out an application to give us a better understanding of the dog’s history and background. We also meet the dog for a Compatibility Evaluation. Our staff is trained in dog behavior and body language so most dogs fit right in. When you are dealing with dogs, there’s always potential for a fight, so we try to eliminate any opportunity for that to happen. A counselor never leaves his or her group and the groups are rotated from the classroom to the play yard often. We try hard to keep the dogs of the same size and temperament in the same groups.

573: What does a stay entail? Can any dog stay?

When a camper arrives, he or she is checked in and any personal items are stored in his or her personal cubby. A seasoned camper goes right to his or her play group, which may be inside or outside, depending on when they arrive. We have two separate outdoor play yards, so we can have two groups outside at any given time. In nicer weather, the dogs might spend more time outside, playing with large toys like Jolly Tugs or the Tether Tugs. In hot weather, they stay outside for a shorter period of time and we have pools and sprinklers running from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. When it’s exceptionally cold or snowy, we let the dogs out to potty, sniff around and they are back inside in the warmth of the camp.

Throughout the day, the dogs are worked with on specific things like sitting at a gate or door and waiting for a counselor to exit first. This is an important skill to teach a dog, especially one who might want to bolt out your front door. We do not advertise ourselves as dog trainers, but we do work on practical skills that can also be worked on at home by owners. The dogs do get plenty of rest time too. The average dog sleeps 12-14 hours a day. Our campers get naps throughout the day to help them recover from play time and stay on a schedule.

At the end of each day, every camper goes home with a report card for their owner to see the things they did in the course of their visit to the camp. Pet parents are just as interested in what their dog does each day as they are their kids and we want them to know if there are any issues a dog might be having, but most especially if they are having fun!

Dogs must be 6 months old and altered to be a regular camper. For younger dogs (puppies), we have the Puppy Pow Wow. It’s two afternoons a week and designed for puppies to get the important socialization that they need to be a good dog citizen later on. It’s crucial for puppies to play and release energy and the Pow Wow seems to do a great job of that! Plus, a puppy that’s already in the Puppy Pow Wow program is automatically “grandfathered in” as a Camper. They do not have to go through the Compatibility Evaluation.

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