Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

HSCC's Walk for the Animals

Last Sunday, Roger and I participated in the 15th annual Walk for the Animals! It's the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Humane Society of Chittenden County, which is the shelter where Roger and I found each other.

The weather was perfect! Sunny and 60's in Battery Park. We arrived at about 10:15am to find the park already packed with dogs and their people checking out the booths of sponsoring vendors. We found the registration tables and took our place in line. That might have been the toughest part of the day - waiting our turn near so many other dogs, but not being able to play! At last it was our turn. Since we raised over $100, I received a t-shirt and a ticket for a free lunch!

With registration successfully completed, Roger and I headed over to one of the several tents set up around the park for shade. I didn't wear nearly enough sun block, and silly Roger was wearing fur! There were also sponsored water bowls scattered about - not that Roger would drink from a communal bowl, but it was a great idea.

A few minutes after 11am, the crowds formed a line on the path and started the march down to the waterfront and back. Roger refused to start walking until Erin was with us. Erin has been at the shelter since I started as a volunteer, first as canine coordinator and now shelter supervisor. Roger has always loved her - she's one of the few people for whom he willingly leaves my side. Throughout the walk he insisted on being near her! I hope she found it cute and not obnoxious...

On the way back up the hill, there was a deep fountain, and several of the big dogs took the opportunity to take a quick dip to cool off. At first Roger was hesitant, since the water was too deep to step into one foot at a time, but with some gentle nudges from Erin and me, he finally landed in with a splash and a smile.

After that, at last it was time for food! Upon re-entering Battery Park, volunteers were handing out big huge dog cookies on strings (I think they were from PupCat Bakery). We got in line and received our free lunch. I got a veggie burger with cheese, the former of which I shared with the Little Sir.

We took some time to wander around to the different vendors' tents. There was of course Pet Food Warehouse, which is just about Roger's favorite place in the world. We spoke with a woman from Pet Naturals of Vermont, and got a free sample pouch of their Daily Best soft chew vitamin supplements, which Roger absolutely loves.

Of course no event in Vermont would be complete without Ben & Jerry's! There were volunteers dishing it out, and Roger even got his own cup!

It's good to be a dog in Vermont :-)

Roger and I raised $227, and we couldn't have done it without the help of our wonderful Twitter anipals and friends! @SidTheCatahoula, @ruthiegelber, @jessiea, @SylvieDog, @MugsyDog, @coldnosephoto, @actionjackson95, as well as our non-Twitter donors, Amanda, Lesa, Jenny & Reuben, Erin Ryan & Mason, Jess Shane & Haiden, and my parents. THANK YOU so much for your donations and support!

Overall, the event raised over $52,000! HSCC is such a wonderful shelter, run by an amazing group of people. We were so happy to be a part of this event. If you didn't get a chance to donate before the event but would still like to support the HSCC, our fundraising page is still open!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

BraveDog and the Three Daycares

Throughout our first year together, I've striven to provide Roger with the best care possible. At times, that means long morning runs, lunch hour walks, and evening trips to the dog park. At other times, that has meant bringing him to doggie daycare. Currently we are on our third daycare, and I'd like to share our trials. This story is a very Goldilocksian experience.

The first one was affordable, but dirty and unloving. The second was lovely and clean, but too spendy and far away for everyday use. The third one is airy and bright, and they quickly knew Roger by name. Juuust right!

I used to work two blocks from home, so I was able to come home at lunch to take Roger for a walk. I never thought I would need a doggie daycare. However, then our downstairs neighbor complained about Roger's separation crying in the mornings when I left for work. And so the search began.

Gulliver's Doggie Daycare The first one was affordable, but dirty and unloving.
I chose Gulliver's because it was the most affordable at $15/day. I tried to get a tour, but was denied. They scoffed at my statement that Roger has a crate aversion. At pick-up time, the staff assured me he had a great day, with no further details. Even though my gut told me it was not a wonderful place, I rationalized that Roger was an easy-going dog, and maybe he didn't care if the staff was gruff and abrasive. The third morning I brought him, Roger resisted getting out of the car. Normally an enthusiastic participant, I took his reluctance very seriously. I did leave him there for the day, but drove away with tears in my eyes promising it was the last time ever.

The Crate Escape The second was lovely and clean but too spendy and far away for everyday use.
In the winter I work as a ski instructor on the weekends at a mountain several towns away. That means early departure, uncertain return time, and clearly no lunch hour walk. The Crate Escape is basically at the base of the mountain, and has a wonderful reputation in the area. Although not thrilled with being left behind, once I was out of sight Roger settled in and played hard all day. I bought a ten-day punch card that worked out to $19/day. That was a great reintroduction to daycare because there were fewer dogs on Saturdays, so he was able to have interaction with the staff, and chill at the front desk when overwhelmed. I blew out my knee at the end of February, thus ending my mountain job for the season, and his weekly daycare.

A couple months ago, I had knee surgery. Since then, Roger has taken his guard dog duties very seriously, including keeping guests off the couch and away from me. He also refused to go on regular walks with other people - apparently he has a strong aversion to being stolen. I tried taking him to the dog park, but he was too busy protecting me from the other dogs to play. I realized Roger needed a break from being my BraveDog, somewhere he could just play and run and tire himself out, without keeping an eye on me.

Play Dog Play The third one is airy and bright, and they quickly knew Roger by name. Juuust right!
I decided to check out the new kid in town, Play Dog Play. I was immediately impressed with their bright clean lobby and observation window overlooking the playroom. We did a half-day as a trial, most of which I spent watching him from home on the web cams. When I picked him up, the staff was able to give a full report on how he spent his afternoon, and was truthful in telling me he cried and moped a bit in the beginning before joining in the play. I purchased a 10 half-day punch card, coming to $14.40/day.

Roger has attended two more afternoons since then, and seems to really like it! With only the slightest pause, he trots into the playroom leaving me grinning proudly in the lobby. I watch him on the web cams, and see him happily jogging around with a pack of equally happy dogs and an ever-present chaperon. Staff members easily recognized him at the HSCC Walk on Sunday, and he was happy to greet them.

Since Play Dog Play is still relatively new in town, they have not yet reached capacity. That means currently no reservations are needed for daycare, but they seem to be growing quickly. And given the high caliber of care, I'm sure they'll be full soon. Go NOW and do your entrance interview, Burlington dogs!!
From the Play Dog Play photo gallery - my boy is SO handsome.

***UPDATE: Roger now attends at least one full day a week, and loves it as much as ever.  As predicted, PDP is almost always at capacity, so advance reservations are a must!  We have a standing reservation for our day, and there is no cancellation fee, unlike other daycares in the area.