Babe and Dutch’s Doggie Daycare Interview
by Lynn Stacy-Smith
Recently I shared a story of a disgusting dog kennel experience in which my late Babe came home reeking of urine and other horrific smells in my blog Professional Pet Sitter Week: Finding Pet Sitters & Kennels You Can Trust. After publishing that blog I remembered a funny story that I had nearly forgotten about in my quest to find a suitable option for boarding: Babe and Dutch’s Doggie Daycare Interview.
After the incident with the disgusting dog kennel, I continued to search for just the right place. I was thrilled to find a pet sitter to come into my home, a young college student who was related to the husband and wife police officers who lived across the hall from me in my apartment. She became my go-to pet sitter for Babe for several months until she transferred to a different college downstate.
Shortly after, my Mom passed away and her German Shorthaired Pointer Dutch came to live with me. If you’ve read my book, Love, Laugh, Woof: A Guide to Being Your Dog’s Forever Owner, you’ve read about goofy and lovable “Dutchdog” and his antics. I tried kennel after kennel, but I was never quite happy. One of them even scolded me when I picked up Babe and Dutch and told me, “Babe is an angel but Dutch is extremely selfish!”
“Selfish??” I asked, thinking I had heard them wrong.
“Yes, selfish,” they replied.
“Um, he’s a dog!” I answered.
“He’s very selfish,” they continued, “He doesn’t wait his turn for treats, he pushes past Babe to get in and out of their kennels, he’s a very selfish dog.”
“Um, ok, well, I guess we forgot to teach him how to share nicely, I’ll get right on that…” I answered sarcastically and took my angel and my selfish dog back home with me.
As I relayed this story to my friends at work at lunch, one co-worker told me about a doggie daycare center in a nearby suburb that his friends had opened a year ago. It was 2006 and business was booming and the doggie daycare concept was growing in popularity, with all of the dogs able to play and frolic together all day. Many dog owners had started taking their dogs to facilities like this for just their human workday and they picked up happy, worn out dogs each night on their way home, like children at a daycare center. Others used them like a boarding kennel when they went out of town.
I called that night and made an appointment for the mandatory “interview” to see if Babe and Dutch were doggie daycare acceptable. “They should pass with flying colors,” I told the employee, “They are perfectly behaved dogs, although I’ve been told Dutch is a little selfish, haha!”
A few days later I arrived home from work, changed my clothes and put both dogs in the car and we headed to their interview. “Make sure you answer all of their questions right on your interview,” I teased and they both wiggled their tails furiously.
We entered a large warehouse type building that had fake grass on the cement floor. I signed us in at the beautiful wooden welcome desk and was horrified to look down to see my perfectly house trained Dutch lifting his leg and peeing on the desk. “Dutch, NO!!!” I told him and his big goofy ears perked up. “You are INSIDE!” I said, ineffectively but not sure what else to say.
“First we are going to walk them around this room to see how they do on-leash with someone other than you,” an employee told me.
“Oh, that should be easy, Babe has always been perfect on or off leash and I’ve been working on getting Dutch to walk nicely too. He always had a fenced yard but he’s been with me awhile now and the three of us walk together multiple times a day.”
I watched as each of my dogs, one at a time, pulled and yanked and tried to lunge at the other dogs in the room. They looked like the dog version of an unbroken wild horse with a saddle on its back for the first time! “Oh my gosh,” I said, “they are never like this!” I told the staff member.
Next we went to the indoor open play area, another huge warehouse space, also covered in green fake grass. To me it looked like we were clearly inside, so I was shocked at what they did next. We released both dogs from their leashes and let them run into the area. There were no other dogs in this section at the time so Babe and Dutch had it to themselves. Almost immediately each of them went in opposite directions, hunched their backs in the telltale pooping position, and each pooped inside the building as I stood and watched in shock, my mouth probably hanging open, speechless.
“I don’t know what’s going on! They are so GOOD normally! They are perfectly house trained, I don’t understand what they are doing!”
We had one final part of the interview, and we took the dogs outside to the general population of dogs who were running around and playing in a securely fenced area. There were games of chase, bitey face, and general canine frivolity happening all over the outdoor area.
Babe typically loved other dogs, she had been around tons of them and played happily or just chilled with them. We even had one neighbor dog when we lived in Indiana, a Golden Retriever named Bob, whose house she would run into for cookies if I let her off her leash in their driveway. Dutch was also very used to other dogs and had hunted birds with strange dogs on bird hunting expeditions with my Dad.
Babe ran to the farthest side of the fence, huddled against it so closely that her fur was pushing through the chain links, and cowered and shook in fear. Desperate to rescue her, I turned to the employee and said, “Ok, she hates this, I’m going to just…” and was cut off mid-sentence as Dutch got into a nasty, snarling dog fight with another big dog that was pure fighting and not at all a playful bitey-face game. The employee was right there in an instant and ended the fight and herded Dutch back into the indoor area as I went to get my shaking Babe.
“Ok, I think that’s enough, thank you for your time, I cannot IMAGINE we passed,” I said and laughed wryly.
“Oh, no, you did, your dogs are great, they are both approved and you can fill out the rest of the paperwork on the way out!” the employee said happily.
“You’re joking?” I said, “I don’t think this is for us, we are going to go home, I appreciate your time.”
I got both dogs back in the car as I shuddered, wondering what other types of dogs had passed this interview with flying colors, 100% certain that my dogs would not be going there. Not only had Dutch peed on their beautiful wood desk, they had both pooped inside, were little devil dogs on leash, Babe had quivered in terror during the play session and Dutch had gotten in a straight up dog fight! How was that approved, I wondered?
“Did you guys blow that whole thing on purpose? I take it you don’t want to go to doggy daycare?” I asked as they both started at me, tongues lolling out of their mouths, as I put the car in drive and headed home.