COLUMBIA — Eddie, a German shorthaired pointer, knows exactly where he is when his family turns down I-70 Drive toward Dog Daze Playcare.
He is dropped off two or three times a week to play with his fellow four-legged pals.
“Dog Daze has saved my sanity,” said Caitlin Rawn, Eddie’s owner. “When we turn down the road to drop him off, he whines with excitement.”
Giving dogs enough exercise and training can be a challenge in the midst of busy life. This is precisely why Becky Henson opened Dog Daze Playcare in April.
Owners can take their dogs to the cage-free facility before they head to work and pick them up afterward. Operating out of Columbia Canine Sports Center at 4506 I-70 Drive S.E., there is 20,000 square feet of space inside. Outside is a fenced yard.
It is one of a handful of local places where dogs can be dropped off during the day, but Dog Daze is specifically set up as a day care center for canines.
“Our job is to socialize, exercise, supervise and tire out the dogs,” Henson said. “They need an outlet for their energy, and a 20-minute walk every day is not enough."
The dogs at the center receive attention, supervision and stimulation. The goal is for the pets to learn how to interact with people and other dogs so they can conduct themselves properly in any situation, Henson said.
“Things can get rough and rowdy, but we keep it all to a dull roar,” she said. "The dogs learn to socialize with other dogs and we teach them manners.”
The cost is $26 for a full day and $15 for half a day (five hours or less). Clients who become regular users of the facility receive discounts based on frequency. Hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“The hours are super convenient,” Rawn said. “When we get home, we are tired and now he is, too.”
Client Kristen Smarr takes her energetic dog to the center regularly.
“I have a springer spaniel with lots of energy, and it’s been really good for him," Smarr said.
Henson opened a dog day care facility in northern Colorado in 1993. She decided a similar facility could potentially thrive in Columbia.
“I’ve been surprised it’s not a vernacular of this city since it’s so normal in other cities,” Henson said.
She said she trains her staff in both canine and pack behavior.
“It’s a specialized skill being comfortable in a room with 30 to 35 dogs. It’s one thing to love dogs; it’s quite another to be in charge of a pack of them," she said.
Before a dog can begin attending Dog Daze Playcare, it must pass a screening test that assesses the behavior and health of a dog. This ensures security of the other pets, Henson said. A veterinarian is available on call, and two others practice at the center part time.
“We’re dog professionals, and it’s safe here,” Henson said. “They’re supervised and it’s important to socialize them young so that they can become good citizens."
South Paw Acres, 5550 W. Gillespie Bridge Road, is another dog day care, and it also offers boarding and grooming.
Owner Faye Nowell said she decided to open her business when she noticed the lack of a dog day care in Columbia, while facilities on the West and East coasts were booming.
"I have loved dogs all my life and have had at least one dog ever since my college days," Nowell said.
"In the late '90s, I ran across an ad from a woman needing day care for her little dog three days a week while she worked long hours. This got me interested in the business of doggie day care for a living."
Like Dog Daze Playcare, South Paws operates Monday through Friday. A single-day price for day care (nine to 10 hours) is $28 for one dog and $25 for a second dog.Nowell offers discounted packages for those who want to use the facility regularly.
"We operate with the same principles that a child care facility uses," Nowell said. "We encourage cooperative sharing and socialization and work on building positive behaviors with all of our clients."
There are two climate-controlled building, and the property is divided into several play areas. This ensures that dogs of similar sizes and temperaments can be grouped together.
The dogs receive close supervision, Nowell said, and they must pass a health and behavior screening test to be accepted.
"They can run and play to their hearts' content, whether it's for just a day or for an extended stay. Many dogs who come often don't want to go home," she said.
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