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We are well on our way into 2021. We want to thank everyone for the nice cards and gifts we got over the holidays, it was a great morale booster for the staff and greatly appreciated!

No one could have foreseen what happened during 2020, but we were able to navigate that difficult year, while keeping everybody safe. We want to thank you for your support all through the last year. It looks like the end of the pandemic is in sight, as the vaccine rollout is going faster than expected. For now some of the measures we took last year in response to the Covid 19 outbreak, will stay in effect however, until we know for sure that we can safely go back to normal. The lobby will remain closed and all drop offs and pick ups will remain curbside. We will not be offering transport yet. And unfortunately, we will not have our weekly dog walks for the next couple of months. Training classes will resume in April, weather permitting, because they will be held outside, for the safety of all the participants and our staff.

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We are so Lucky to be able to work with dogs and we continuously educate ourselves on dog behavior and dog care. Therefore we might have knowledge that the average dog owner doesn’t have. We would like to share some of that knowledge. We think of all of our clients as coming in pairs of two: the human and the dog. Unfortunately, they might not always want or need the same thing. Therefore, we have certain policies in place to make sure everyone stays safe. Since dogs can’t speak for themselves, we want to make sure they have their needs met. Here are some of our policies and the reason why we created them:

  • Dogs in the parking lot and coming into the lobby always need to be on a leash. Your dog might be great on a recall and friendly with everyone he meets. However, the dog he might run up to, might not be comfortable. It is common courtesy to keep your dog on a leash and in Lucas County it’s the law.
  • We do not keep personal belongings in the building. We take dogs to your car on our leads, you keep your dog’s leash and collar with you. We also don’t keep bedding, toys, bowls, etc. here. We can be more efficient when we do not have to keep track of these items and instead focus our attention on the dogs in our care.
  • All dogs coming to our facility eat their own food, that needs to be portioned out for each individual meal. Once again, this will make everything more efficient. this way we will know we give each dog the right amount of food, we can quickly put the food in a bowl and serve it to the dogs. Everything needs to be packaged in disposable packaging, so we don’t have to return container or bags. We will charge a fee per meal if we have to portion out the food.
  • Medication however needs to be in the original packaging. We need to know what it is, what it is prescribed for and how to administer it. If a situation occurred where your dog would have to see a vet while staying with us, we will be able to show them the medication.
  • We have a 14 day rule. This is a really important one and we ask everyone to please respect it. If your dog has been to another daycare, groomer, lodging or training facility or dog park, please wait 14 days before you bring your dog to us. There are certain conditions, like canine cough, that are easily spread in any of those settings, because dogs are in close contact or share surfaces/spaces. Your dog can pick up a bug and carry it, maybe even without showing any symptoms, and then spread it to other dogs. If your dog did pick something up somewhere else, you will either know in 14 days or he will be no longer be contagious, if your dog was asymptomatic. We cannot eliminate the risk of dogs getting sick, but we can greatly reduce it if everyone follows this rule.
  • We require all reservations to be made by 8PM the evening before you want your dog to come to us. If you want to make a reservation after 8PM, you will have to call us and reservations are subject to availability. There is an extra charge for making reservations after the cut-off time. The reason for this is that making balanced playgroups is vital for creating a safe and fun environment for the dogs. When creating playgroups, we need to balance size, age, play style, temperament and energy level of the dogs. We can do that if we have time to look at the dogs that are coming. If new dogs are added during the day that were not on the reservation list, we have to rearrange everything again. That is too hard for the staff to do. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation in making their reservations on time, it has made our days run a lot smoother!
  • All dogs that participate in our off leash program need to be spayed or neutered by 7 months of age. This is very important to keep everyone safe. Of course we don’t want dogs to get pregnant, but besides that, having unaltered adults in the group can create competition that can lead to fights and serious injuries. Hormones are a powerful thing. For some breeds it is recommended that owners wait before they spay or neuter. That is understandable, and the owners will have to weigh the pros and cons. However, between the time this dog is 7 months of age and the dog gets spayed or neutered, he or she cannot participate in our off-leash program.
  • We hope there will be a day where no one will use aversive techniques to train their dogs. Our service agreement states that owners refrain from using shock collars, prong collars or choke chains. In learning theory, these techniques are called ‘positive punishment’, meaning, giving the dog something he doesn’t like (like an electric shock), in order to suppress a behavior. But we have known for a long time that this can lead to unintended consequences. It causes stress in the dog and can make dogs reactive. If a dog gets a shock because he barks at another dog, the intention is to stop the barking. But for the dog we can create a negative association with seeing other dogs, because he always feels pain (the shock) when he sees another dog. You can understand why this would be a bad thing in a daycare setting.
  • Since the start of the Covid pandemic, all our payments have been touchless, therefore we need updated payment information in the Gingr app. Going forward, we will keep taking payment this way, therefore, having payment information in the system is required. It helps us check dogs out more efficiently. Be aware that no credit card information is stored on our computers. All information is tokenized and stored on the
  • We have been very pleased with the curbside drop off and pick up system and we hope all our clients like it too. We want to continue this service, even when the pandemic is over and we are opening our lobby again. We have found that it is much easier on the dogs than being walked in on a leash and being near other dogs on leads. This has to do with the fact that dogs are sensitive about their personal space and being on a leash reduces their choices on what to do if they feel uncomfortable. Normally, if they feel fear, they have a fight or flight option. On a leash, they don’t have the the flight option, so they might feel more vulnerable. The bad thing about stressful events is that it leaves stress hormones behind that affect the dog’s behavior afterwards. We will talk more about dog interactions and what motivates their behavior in future newsletters.
  • Fecal test results are required in addition to being vaccinated. Please make sure you send us updated test results if your dog is due. Not all veterinarians add this to their vaccine reminders. These tests are important because they check for parasites like giardia, coccidia and worms. We want to make sure that everyone is clear.
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Behind the Doors at A Walk in the Park

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Since events in the world have kept us at arms’ (or more) length we’d like to help close that gap by introducing to you the folks who take care of your pups, and let them share with you a little bit about themselves and their experiences here at the Ranch.

Let’s start with Tony. Our weekend friends will recognize him - he is the tall one without the Dutch accent (also, he’s often sporting a SpongeBob task mask. ) Tony started helping out on occasion, giving Dirk a break staying overnight with the dogs. Pretty soon that morphed into being one of our weekend heroes (and favored pup pillow!)

“We’ve had dogs all of my life, usually at least a trio. I love having them with me. We have two at home right now, which is a little below our MCL (Median Canine Level) but they are happy with the way things are and honestly usually our animals find us when the time is right. I always like to see the dogs having a good time during the day and relaxed in the evening when I spend the night here.

The first dog to greet me when I arrived the first day was Cosmo, who followed in step with me through the area for the entire rest of the day.”

Tony says that snuggling with the pups to catch up on their favorite TV shows every Friday night is still his favorite thing to do. And, yes, they do take time to discuss the plot twists and surprises before turning in.

If you see Tony, ask him about the time he was teaching the Labradors to play football, and got rushed by the trickster who decided to play defense.

Dirk Broersma