Recently, I searched for a good Doggie Day Care for Buzz’s stay in Memphis, TN. While I did that, I was reminded of the importance of properly researching Doggie Day Care places both online and IN PERSON!
I had already mentally decided on Grace Animal Hospital, which is located right in downtown Memphis. That’s after I looked at their website and found the pricing acceptable. I even called, and just wanted to quickly check out the place in person.
Let me tell you that several alarm bells went off in my head when I entered the place. They were bad enough to make me want to turn around and walk right back out the door I had just come through.
However, I forced myself to stay and get a tour of the place. Here’s what I experienced:
#1 Doggie Day Care Deal Breaker: Urine & Feces Smells
This was the first thing I noticed when I walked through the entrance. The smell of urine & feces.
I intuitively looked around the reception area in search of a fresh puddle of pee and/or a pile of diarrhea or poop, but didn’t see any. The lack of anything in sight immediately raised red flag #1: The smell had to come from the Day Care area in the back. Along with all the noise.
#2 Doggie Day Care Deal Breaker: Deafening Noise
Judging by the deafening sound of barking that filled the reception area, there had to be many, many dogs behind the wall separating the front from the back.
Now, I realize that there will be some barking in a Day Care environment, don’t get me wrong. Obviously dogs communicate via their voice as much as through their body language. However, this scenario reminded me of a kennel instead of an area where dogs are supposed to have a good time and be relaxed.
I’ve volunteered my time at a no-kill shelter in Northern Virginia once and walked some of their dogs. The insanely loud volume I experienced there was similar to the one at this Doggie Day Care facility.
Leave if you can’t understand your own words!
It was so bad that I could barely understand the woman who showed me the back. I actually had to wait until we toured the deserted outside area to ask her a few questions.
The crazy volume was definitely due to the Day Care dogs hanging out closely to the boarding dogs. I counted about 20 boarding pups. While I walked past them on our way to the outside area, I noticed several piles of poop in the pups’ crates that hadn’t been cleaned up yet.
I’m a professional dog walker and pet sitter myself, and whenever an accident happens at one of my clients’ homes, I clean it up right away. It’s impossible not to notice it since the smell is a clear indicator of a poopy mess. How this can get overlooked at a veterinary hospital is beyond my comprehension!
#3 Doggie Day Care Deal Breaker: (Mostly) Unfriendly Staff
The young woman who gave me the tour of the back was relatively friendly, there’s no denying it. The staff manning the reception area, however, couldn’t have been more dull and clearly uninterested in my visit.
There was only one woman behind the reception desk when I walked into the building. While she did greet me and arranged for me to get a tour of the back, she sounded like a broken, boring record.
I had to wait for about 10 minutes until my tour guide emerged from the back. During this time, another woman sat down behind the reception desk and completely ignored my presence.
She didn’t greet me, asked me how I was, or at least smiled at me. That’s although I was standing right within her field of vision behind the counter. Nothing. It was as if I was thin air. I thought to myself that if I treated my clients this way, I wouldn’t have very many.
3 Doggie Day Care Deal Breakers: Bottom Line
There was only thing I enjoyed seeing about that place. That was the mist that was being sprayed out back. It made sense that no dogs were out there at the time I looked at that outside play are. That’s because it was noon on a hot and humid mid-western summer day.
I couldn’t wait to get out of that place as quickly as possible. One thing was clear: This would not be Buzz’s DayCare facility.
I’ve taken both Missy & Buzz to two wonderful, inviting, clean, and fun Day Care places. That’s why I know what a good Doggie Day Care should look like. One thing was clear: I wouldn’t accept anything less. One of them is the Olde Town Pet Resort in Dulles, VA, and the other one is Riverbark Pet Retreat in Spring Lake, NC.
If you’re interested in reading about those, check out the links in the Related Reading section at the bottom of this blog post.
Unfortunately, since I eliminated Grace Animal Hospital, I had to continue my search for a Doggie Day Care. I can tell you that I was incredibly lucky with the next place I went to right after touring the smelly place.
I’ll be writing about it soon and will tell you why, although it was perfect on so many levels, it didn’t end up working out after all. Stay tuned!
What are your criteria for a good Doggie DayCare? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!