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As you know it is our mission to make positive changes in the lives of dogs, and their families. That means constantly looking at how dogs think and how their emotional identity affects the way they experience the world around them. Just as moving to bigger space in the spring brings new challenges and offers us new insights, so does moving into the inside space. Changes in temperature and even the activity of their family also have a significant impact on how the dogs feel. Add to that the fact each dog is continually growing and changing and you begin to see how each day here at the ranch is unique and fascinating.

Through lots of observation and a ton of research we’ve come up with the following tools to help each dog have a positive and enjoyable experience here. Some you have seen before, some are new, and a few are just in the planning stage but we wanted to share them with you. We understand that as pet parents you have lots of duties and responsibilities of which we at the ranch may have no notion. We understand and ask for your understanding that our protocols may clash with your schedule, but are intended to keep the dogs safe, happy and healthy.

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Regular Attendance is Key

A dog’s world is made up of two hemispheres: the familiar and the unfamiliar. There are many elements in a dog’s personality and psyche that affect how well, how easily he or she moves between these two. Big changes at home, like going back to the workplace, moving, adding a new family member, are obvious agents that can shake up a dog’s sense of safety. But there are many subtle changes that can be settling as well. Because we cannot control how dogs feels about the world outside our doors we are very mindful of how they feel about the world inside our doors, and what we might do to make that as positive as we can. For this reason we will require regular attendance for dogs coming to daycare or staying overnight. Dogs who have not been to the ranch for daycare or overnight stays within the last 30 days need to attend for at least half a day of daycare, so we can assess if the dog is comfortable staying with us. We want the dogs to re-familiarize themselves with our environment, and reconnect with old friends and make some new ones! Overnight stays may require additional daycare, and possibly a trial overnight in the case of upcoming extended stays (3 or more nights). Absence of more than a month may require a formal reassessment visit. Absence of more than 3 months may require repeating the formal evaluation process, but we really don’t want to see such long absences, unless it is unavoidable, like for medical reasons. A dog who has not been to the ranch in months, will be a very different dog, with different needs and possibly quite different preferences. We want the ranch to be a second home to the dogs, so visits here have to be a regular part of their routine.

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Timing is Everything

Most of the pups coming into the ranch in the morning are suuuper excited to come, can’t wait to play, what’s that new smell, who put that ball there - that’s mine now, oooh what’s that in the trash can, are we going outside now, how about now? now? hmm ear scritches! In the morning they are pretty much all on the same page. As the day goes by the group will cycle through periods of play and rest. Generally, the intensity of play will not reach ‘first thing in the morning’ highs after lunchtime. Dogs arriving in the afternoon generally have that first-thing-in-the-morning enthusiasm. Maybe they will find somebody to play again, but it’s not really likely. What is more likely is that one or more of the early morning superstars is feeling a little nappy and would prefer not to be disturbed, thank you very much. The newcomer might get a lukewarm to grumpy reception (which isn’t fair because he is just excited about seeing them). For this reason we require all dogs, whether coming for daycare or overnight stays, be dropped off by 2PM. There is a $50 fee for post 2PM drop off of overnight dogs. We might not be able to accept the dog if we feel it causes undue stress on the other dogs. We feel that dropping off after 2PM just isn’t safe. It can lead to some unpleasant interactions that can start a poor dog off on a very unhappy experience that may in turn change his or her outlook on being in a group of dogs. It may also have the same effect on the dogs who are already there.

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Stretching Our Resources Without Compromising Care

Just like nearly every other business, we are having difficulty bringing on quality employees. But unlike a lot of other businesses, if we are short a person we can’t just put the dogs on hold, like leaving a product in its box until someone can sort and stock it. Finding the right team members is imperative, having safe conditions for supervising the dogs is non-negotiable. To that end we have automated a number of cleaning processes, and we created protocols that help channel the bulk of the time we have into interacting with the dogs in our care. For this reason we require that all meals - whether for daycare or overnight stays - be bagged, one meal per bag (or other disposable container) and labeled with the dog’s name and meal (e.g. Fluffy - lunch).

In the same vein, we are now asking that folks be as accurate as possible with the drop off and pick up times on their reservations. It helps us manage our labor hours more effectively, because we will have an accurate assessment of how many dogs we will have with us on any day at any time. Things come up, but if you are going to be a little later or earlier picking up, just give us a call and let us know. If you can’t make it to the ranch, call us to cancel your reservation.

If you can’t pick up your dog from daycare by closing time, 8:45PM, they will have to stay overnight. However, having an unexpected guest overnight can be challenging, especially when we are at capacity. It can really disturb the balance in the group and affect the comfort of the dogs. So please be on time to pick up your dog from daycare. If you think you might not be able to pick up your dog in time, let us know it might be a possibility and call to confirm if he will or won’t be staying as soon as possible, and make sure to send along a meal. For that reason beginning Wednesday November 24th there will be a surcharge for dogs not picked up by close (8:45) without prior approval.

As ever, all daycare reservations must be in by 8PM the night before.

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As we are entering the Holiday Season and are almost at the end of 2021, we want to thank everyone for their continued support. We had a great year with the dogs! We know that there have been a lot of changes in the past two years, and the only things we can count on for the next year is that things will change again. We will adjust where necessary to create the best possible experience for the dogs in our care and will communicate these changes in our newsletters. For now we wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Dirk Broersma
https://awalkintheparkoftoledo.com