Printer Friendly


Byline: Bob Keefer The Register-Guard

It may be a dog's life for most canines. But a few fortunate pooches get to attend Lucky Dog, a doggie day care in Glenwood whose program and facilities rival those of many day care centers for children.

We're talking birthday parties, complete with hats, favors, bubble-blowing, "pupcakes" and other treats. WeOre talking piped in music and "101 Dalmations" on flat-panel television sets when you stay overnight. We're talking doggie field trips to the coast.

The fortunate canines at Lucky Dog aren't confined all day to separate kennels. Instead they hang out together in the 2,200-square-foot play area, chewing on synthetic bones, romping through a large blue tunnel, frisking in the wading pool outside on sunny days or cavorting quietly with uniformed staff members.

"Our goal is to create a positive, healthy experience for your dog," explains Mandie Stuhan, a former office administrator who opened Lucky Dog two years ago because she couldn't find anything quite like it in town for her own two dogs (she now has three).

"I started talking to people and realized there are other people like myself who consider their dogs as their children," she said. "And they were also looking for something."

On the day we dropped by for a visit, 40 dogs were happily loose in the play area together.

The room was remarkably tidy and odor free, all things considered. Even more striking was that all those very varied dogs - big, little and middle sized, long-haired and short-haired, excitable and phlegmatic - were getting along like children at Sunday school.

That's because doggie deportment is very high on Stuhan's list of canine priorities.

To have a dog accepted at Lucky Dog, owners start by filling out an online questionnaire that asks such questions as, "How does your dog react to other dogs approaching when you're out on a walk?" and "Has your dog ever jumped or climbed over a fence? If yes, how high was it?"

Then the dog and owner come in for an interview that lasts up to three hours. Pass that and you get a trial day.

"I am looking for a relationship between dog and owner," she said. "And how the dog responds to being handled. You want a dog that is comfortable being handled."

Among the satisfied clients at Lucky Dog are Rusty, a Chesapeake Bay retriever, and Dewey, a Black Lab rescue dog, who belong to Congressman Peter DeFazio and his wife, Myrnie.

"It is their favorite place," DeFazio said by e-mail. "They rate it four paws up."

Other customers rave as well.

"Lucky Dog really speaks to those of us who think our dogs are our children," said Sarah Peterson, a Eugene lawyer who is joint owner, with her boyfriend, of a black Labrador mix named Jackpot. "We don't have kids or anything, so she is our baby. We lavish attention on her, more than we do on each other. She gets all the best of everything.O

Cori Taggart, a Eugene therapist, takes her 16-month-old border collie, Jasmine, to Lucky Dog one day a week to give herself a break from Jasmine, and vice-versa.

"She is a very energetic young dog," said Taggart, who is also childless. "I have worked hard to socialize her with other dogs. I wanted both a day where I could have a long work day and she could have a lot of fun and get a lot of exercise in a setting that was well supervised. They do a very good job of both screening and supervising the dogs. I think they are interested in each dog and get to know it. They make it fun for the dogs and make it fun for the owners."

That fun can sometimes seem a little over the top.

Stuhan herself laughs about the doggie birthday parties, from which she e-mails digital photos to the dog owners. "The parties are really for the owners," she says.

At the same time, she runs a tight ship at Lucky Dog, navigating the tricky waters of ainmals and their owners as much as possible for the dogs' benefit.

She doesn't for example, take any dogs full time, five days a week.

"That's not healthy for the dog," she said. "Our job is to offer an outlet for the dog to be in a safe and fun environment. Five days a week would not be healthy."

Stuhan also insists that her dogs keep to a schedule.

That's so the population on any given Tuesday, say, is about the same as it was the Tuesday before and the Tuesday before that. Thus the dogs don't have to deal with sorting out pack issues over and over again.

While she lays down firm ground rules for her charges - the dogs are expected, for example, to sit and wait in front of every door and gate they encounter, open or closed - Stuhan also insists she doesn't provide a finishing school for canines.

"Training is up to the owners," she said. "If a dog has never been taught to sit, and he's crazy and he doesn't have any boundaries, he's not going to fit in, in my environment."

As a result, the dogs who meet Stuhan's standards are model citizens. When we walked into the play room on a visit, 40 free-range dogs turned towards us, crowded loosely around, and - with no jumping up, growling or shoving - politely lined up to get a pat on the head or to lick our hands.

Within minutes the novelty had worn off and they were all back to running through the tunnel, chewing their synthetic bones or taking naps.

The cost is high, as kennels go. A 12-hour day care "day" is $20 (that's more than an overnight stay at most local kennels); a 12-day pass is $204. Staying overnight in the luxury "Manhattan suite," which boasts a mural of the New York skyline along with a flat-panel TV for doggie movies, is $34 a night.

Taggart says it's worth every penny.

"People put a lot of money into fancy equipment, into going on vacations and staying in expensive hotels," she said. "For me, this makes my dog a happier, healthier dog. It's worth it."

Lucky dog

Doggie day and night care in Glenwood

Address: 4102 Franklin Blvd.

Phone: 744-BARK

COPYRIGHT 2007 The Register Guard
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Oregon Life
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 14, 2007
Previous Article:Definition of job abandonment set by employers.
Next Article:Berry patch of life has sharper thorns for parents.

Related Articles
Letters Editorial.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters