AUBURN TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Around noon every day, things quiet down in one of the buildings on Munn Road in Auburn Township. It’s nap time and everyone snuggles into his own bed for a 90-minute siesta.
Not far from the nappers is a large area for exercising and socializing. There’s also an outdoor area that serves the same purpose and provides the chance to soak up a little sun when it’s warm.
A photography studio and massage area are only a few steps away.
Sounds like luxury accommodations for only the finest clients, right? Well, it is.
You won’t find Paris Hilton or George Clooney here, but you might run into the likes of Lassie and Snoopy.
The company’s name gives away its business strategy – All About Dogs.
Day care. The napping dogs are part of the company’s doggy day care. Dog owners who work all day or need someone to watch their pooch for any reason can leave their pet at the day care for half a day or a whole day.
Sometimes, the facility helps people in a pinch, like one client who just needed someone to watch his dog while he had jury duty.
Clients can bring treats, snacks, toys or food to make their dogs feel more at home. The dogs have structured activities during day care and small dogs play in a separate area from bigger dogs.
The day care is more than simply a dog-sitting service, according to owner Deanna Cejer. On a regular day, the business has about 20 dogs in the day care program and it’s a chance for dogs to interact and let loose.
“Really, it’s a socialization. They get to act like dogs here,” she said.
And, of course, the exercise is a benefit as well.
But it’s not just the owners who get excited over All About Dogs. The dogs like it, too.
“I don’t know how many of our clients tell us they can’t drive down Munn Road without their dog thinking they’re coming here,” Cejer said.
Spend the night. All About Dogs also offers overnight boarding where dogs stay in private rooms with blankets, pillows, food, toys and treats from home. Overnight boarders also have the option of participating in day care.
Although the concept of doggy day care might seem far-fetched to some, the dogs aren’t over-indulged creatures with doting owners. Staff members say they’re just regular dogs – often family pets – in need of some socialization.
When Cejer first developed the concept for a business that revolved around dogs, day care was not at the top of her list.
“I did not want to do that,” she said. “I didn’t want any part of it.”
Cejer really wanted to open a self-serve dog wash and photography studio. But when she started writing her business plan in January 2005, it turned out to include quite a few other items.
Services. When All About Dogs opened in June of that year, the facility included doggy day care, professional grooming, training classes, a retail store and canine massage. Plus the dog wash and photography studio. Overnight boarding was added in December 2006.
Like human massages, canine massage has health benefits, according to Cejer.
After years of playing hard, one of Cejer’s own dogs had become stiff and cranky. Cejer looked into canine massage and after several sessions, the lumps on her dog’s back smoothed out and he could walk more easily. Even his attitude improved.
The health advantages are notable, but for those who really just want to spoil their dog, the Geauga County facility has a spa package that includes a massage, walk, nap, bath or professional groom, photo session and portrait and gift set.
Or, if your dog is the partying type, All About Dogs has hosted a couple of canine birthday parties, complete with party hats and cake.
Serious side. While there are a lot of fun and games, the center does have more serious projects. Cejer does fundraising for the Geauga County dog warden and local K-9 units.
She’s also made trading cards for the K-9 units at the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Search Dog Association, Cleveland Transit Authority and local police departments.
All About Dogs has about 80 clients right now, but Cejer said there’s room for lots more.
Ready to play. Whether they’re there to learn, have fun or be treated for aches and pains, the dogs know they’ve got it good.
When Sir Edward, a black standard poodle, strolls through the door, he immediately greets each staff member and wiggles with excitement when they ask if he’s ready to go visit his “girlfriends.”
The dog doesn’t hesitate. He know exactly what to do and he’s already headed off to the play area.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at email@example.com.)
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