Everyone can use a vacation, even your four-legged companion. When you board a plane, and head for a tropical destination, you can give Fido his own getaway where he can relax, and enjoy plenty of attention.
The average person might balk at the idea of pampering a dog, but owners have strong emotional connections with their pets. They often feel guilty for leaving their best friend home alone or in a kennel, not to mention the possibility of coming home to a trashed living room or an unfortunate accident.
At Pampered Pooch Playground in St. Louis Park, dog owners leave their furry friends with caring professionals in a fun, stimulating, yet structured environment. Services include a doggy daycare, which operates much like a children’s daycare, and a hotel, where the amenities resemble those of an actual hotel more than a typical kennel.
Keith Miller, co-owner of Pampered Pooch Playground, explains, “We break our dogs into groups based on play style and size. Each of the groups is always supervised by one of our trained staff members.”
The ratio of dogs to staff members is about seven to one.
Hotel suites fall under one of two categories: regular and luxury. The latter, while bigger, also comes with bedding and soft lighting, as well as a webcam so that owners can watch their dogs overnight.
Puppies as young as 14 weeks are welcome, as long as they have received their first three sets of vaccinations. By seven months, they must have been spayed or neutered. Dogs that exhibit any aggressive tendencies are not accepted at the facility.
Reservations are strongly recommended. New enrollees undergo a two-hour evaluation period, so staff can make sure they can handle free play with other dogs.
Aside from the almost constant physical interaction between staff and groups of dogs, the communal aspect of Pampered Pooch Playground puts it in a class of its own. Forget naps in cages—each group of dogs sleeps together in an open space, making the experience comfortable and relaxing.
“Most of our staff has a dog-related background,” Miller points out. “Many of them are vet tech or vet students, and this is great hands-on work to help further their education.”
Miller got the idea for Pampered Pooch Playground while visiting a friend’s Doggy Daycare in his hometown of Chicago. Unhappy with her job in corporate America, Miller’s wife, Trisha, now a co-owner of the company, joined him in developing the business plan. That was two years ago, and now, the dream has come true.
Miller worked in the broadcasting industry for eleven years, the last five of which were spent producing a local radio show, before turning his attention to the Pampered Pooch Playground full-time.
“The biggest joy is seeing the dogs come back day after day, and seeing how much fun they have each day,” Miller enthuses.
When the establishment opened in April, it started with five dogs in its care.
“One of the very first daycare dogs came to us from another facility, and we were told that the dog had pretty severe separation anxiety,” Miller relates. “We started to work with her, and after about two weeks, the parents told us that the behavior at home was much improved.”
Other services at Pampered Pooch Playground are an indoor dog park for the winter months and training with Heather Hime.
Keith says of Hime, “She has a great hands-on approach to training, and the small class sizes make sure every dog gets enough instruction.”
In September, a grooming “spa” will open. Miller also looks forward to offering a doggy yoga class, where owners can practice poses with their pooches. The search for an instructor is in progress.
Commitment to pooch happiness is what makes Pampered Pooch Playground a success, and that happiness is contagious.
As Keith remarks, “You could be having the worst day, but the minute you go back, and start playing with all of the dogs, you forget about everything else.”
Pampered Pooch Playground
7020 Walker St., St. Louis Park