The doggy doors of a new business opened the first of September to welcome a pack of furry customers.
Shawna Else is the owner of Dandy Dog Daycare and is excited to bring the community a more diverse kind of daycare option for their four-legged friends. Else has been a part of Juneau’s animal scene since she was a young child, growing up around her mom’s business Pet Nanny’s Place. Else graduated with a degree in human resource management with an emphasis in management in 2015 from the University of Idaho. After school, she traveled to Yakima, Washington, where she managed a pet boutique called the Pet Pantry for two years. She noticed the increasing popularity of dog daycares down in the Lower 48 and decided to bring that kind of facility to her hometown.
“I’ve being thinking of it probably for about two years. It’s just been in the back of my mind since I graduated from school,” Else said. “I saw the need for it in town because I didn’t really see anything on a commercial field up here… Doggy day care has inclined in popularity, people are really thinking more about their pets.”
With her background in business to help her with the start-up process, Else moved back to Juneau to create Dandy Dog Daycare. Dandy Dog Daycare is an alternative to traditional pet daycare that offers a wide range of activities in a monitored environment. Currently, Else is running the operation with one other staff member. They focus on enriching the dog’s mind and body during their stay.
“I’m excited for it to be another opportunity to keep the dog’s mind busy. It’s a shame to see a lot of dogs just stay at home while the owner is at work,” Else said. “That leaves the door open for the animal to become bored or destructive. The social interaction and environment provided here will help to enrich their value of life.”
Else is certified by the American Boarding Kennel Association (ABKA) as a pet care technician. She requires that all staff be educated in animal CPR and first aid before working for Dandy Dog Daycare. The daycare offers off-leash outdoor play yards that will be under supervision when the dogs are out. Inside, the facility is a welcoming, homey area for the pets to feel content with heated floors, open areas, television and comfortable furniture. The safety and happiness of the pack is a high priority. All dog owners must first go through an application process that explains the dogs past and some of their known behaviors. After looking over the application and making note of whether the pet would be happy at their facility the owner will receive a call to drop their dog off for a scheduled evaluation session that lasts two hours. During that session the dog will be assessed on their interactions with people and other dogs.
“It’s just a time to look for any red flags,” Else said. “We’re really focused on making sure our facility is the right place and the right fit. If the dog isn’t happy the whole pack happiness will go down.”
If a dog is struggling with behaviors Dandy Dog Daycare will suggest a later evaluation after some of the issues have been resolved either through more training at home or atCanine’s Unlimited, a local dog training center. Dogs are required to be potty trained before attending Dandy Dog Daycare, but of course, there are some exceptions. Currently, one of the five dogs who have already joined the daycare is a three month old who is “mostly” potty trained with the occasional accident.
“If it’s a puppy, we understand that they haven’t quite caught up yet,” Else said. She also commented that turning away a puppy “is just too hard.”
Dandy Dog Daycare also offers a $20 nail trimming service and hopes to expand into bringing a guest groomer in once a month. Another goal for the daycare is to have evening events that would further support the owners and pets of the community. Although no events have yet been scheduled, Else sees a future of partnering with rescue groups, offering seminars for training such as TTouch, and even arts and crafts with the pets.
“I’d like to get the entire community more involved,” Else said. “My main goal and the main focus is to provide safety and cohesiveness to the pack in all our activities. Something to emphasize and that sets us apart is the constant supervision. We’re keeping our eyes on the dogs at all times to make sure they are having the best time possible.”
Dandy Dog Daycare is located at 5450 Bent Court, Suite A, in Lemon Creek and can be reached at (907)-789-DOGS. For more information and a list of services, visit their website at dandydogdaycare.com.
• Mackenzie Fisher is a freelance writer living in Juneau.