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. 


Michelle said...

LOVE this post. I'm so happy Sir Roger/Dr. Dog has found a place where he can have fun with the other kiddies.

Lou said...

Thank you! I'm so impressed and happy with Play Dog Play that I just want to tell everyone we know!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more! My girl, Brigid, loves Play Dog Play. I can barely hold her back from going in, she gets SO excited when we pull into the lot. The staff is first rate; friendly, caring, conscientious and always greet her by name. They even trained her to walk on a treadmill to burn off extra energy!

I agree that word-of-mouth has travelled fast and they are usually at capacity most days. They wont overbook to ensure that it's never over-crowded and care is never compromised, which is great. They accept repeating reservations, and offer 1/2 day and full day rates, plus some grooming services.

Lou said...

Anon - Thanks for your comment, so glad Brigid loves it too! This post was written a year ago, and we love PDP even more today! As soon as we get through the door, Roger zips right over to the playroom without a second though!

At their suggestion, we have a standing reservation for our daycare days - but unlike other places around, PDP doesn't charge for the day if we have to cancel - a HUGE plus!