Patti Soldavini

To Board or Not To Board?

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/04/2012 at 10:16 am

“But will I have my OWN bed?”

Last weekend, Olive and I took a ride out to Four Paws Playground to tour the facility and meet the owners. One of the “Dog Moms” at the local dog park recommended Four Paws as a great place to board your dog. Since I’ve had Olive, I have never left her for more than a day or two and always in the hands of her trainer or friend. I performed some cursory research on local “kennels” and was largely unimpressed. Most seem like nothing more than “dog warehouses,” and little attention seems to be given to dog behavior. I was pleasantly surprised with Four Paws. It’s run by a husband and wife team who live on premises and who clearly understand the needs and behaviors of dogs and their breeds. The wife trains the staff who, while young caretakers, seemed to go about their business with a maturity unusual for their age.  Dogs that are boarded sleep in small horse-like stalls with beds, not crates. They are given free run outdoors in fenced-in areas according to their size. And most impressively, their day is structured so that they are inside for an hour, outside for an hour, etc. throughout the day. A great way to allow the dog to rest, and minimize the opportunity for anything from heatstroke to fights. While the owner says they run it like a daycare center, it actually seems like it’s run more thoughtfully than your average daycare center. In order to bring Olive on the tour, I had to present proof of vaccinations and a negative Giardia test. If I ever want to board Olive there I have to fill out a lengthy application and then prior to her boarding, take her there for a day so they can observe Olive’s behavior and get to know her. Brilliant. The dogs are treated as individuals not just as a species. It’s hot as hell as Olive and I walk into the front door. We are greeted by the wife and both Olive and I hear what sounds like many dogs barking behind a door. They obviously smell a new guest. The tour begins as we walk through the door and into a sea of dogs barking. Barking so loudly that the caretakers wear the sort of sound mufflers that the jet jockeys on airport tarmacs wear when guiding planes into and away from gates. There must be 50 crates full of dogs barking. Most seem to be large breeds. These are the daycare dogs who are inside during their “hour in.” It is a bit intimidating for me and more so probably for Olive, who is now both viewed by the crated dogs as fresh meat and fresh meat off leash. Olive tries to make herself small, by slinking low as we wind our way through this maze of canines. I ask if they have experience with Weimaraners and am told “yes,” as the owner points to a large crate occupied by both a grey and blue Weimaraner. Unbelievably they are not barking, just observing the intruders with laser-like intensity. We emerge on the other side where we see more dogs running around the fenced in areas and splashing around in the wading pools. Olive seems to feel much more comfortable out here and approaches the fence to greet the dogs outside. The owner and I chat a little more and then it’s time for Olive and I to make our way back through “Dog Hall,” and out the front door. I am very impressed with how the owners operate their business. They seem to have created something very unique and special. Olive’s had enough stimulation for the day though. As she usually does, she signals that she’s ready to leave by starting to bark insistently. Very subtle this dog. About as subtle as a fart.

  1. My dog Nessie (a beagle) goes to Four Paws every week for a day of fun. She gets very excited as we pull into the parking lot. She’s stayed overnight a couple of times, and has done GREAT. The staff all dote over her and she comes home TIRED! She plays hard and has a great time there. I wouldn’t put her in a “kennel” – she needs to run and play! Hope to see you and Olive there!

    • Great to hear! Thanks for sharing your story. If Olive had to stay in a crate much of the time, she’d lose her mind. And I don’t even like the idea of “runs” that most kennels have. Runs seem to promote obsessive behavior. I ruled out many other places right away before I saw 4 Paws. The only other place I was considering was Newton Animal Hospital! At least she’d be safe there. So many of 4 Paws policies and procedures show a great deal of thoughtfulness and behavioral intelligence. 4 Paws is like the “Un-kennel.” I know Olive will be safe AND have a great time.

  2. I too do not like leaving my beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback at strange places … toured the facilities about a year ago now and this is by far the best place ever! I live in PA and worth every mile driven to leave my Chassis, at FPP! We have left her for days there and I knew that she was well taken care of. I love this place so much that I compare everwhere to FPP. I have in-laws in LBI and wish FPP had a facility down there as well. There aren’t enough great things to say about this place and how much the sincerly care for all of the animals that stay at their facility! I think you can be assured that this place is the last one you need to “check out”.
    Maybe one day Chassis and Olive will be friends 😉

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story. I consider Olive “my child,” and wanted to make sure I did my homework and left her at a place where she would be safe and happy. The minute I saw 4 Paws, I felt like I found the right place. Other places don’t even come close to what 4 Paws has created. Yes, maybe Olive and Chassis will meet one day!

  3. Sound mufflers! Wow, that must have been a noisy place. Good to hear that you are impressed with the facilities. Remember to pack Olive’s sound mufflers if she goes to stay there 🙂

  4. We are with you sweet Olive. If you have something to say, say it like you mean it and loud enough to be heard. Hugs and nose kisses

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