Q. How long has Planet Bark been in business?
A. It will be ten years this June. I have owned it for about five.
Q. What services do you offer?
A. Day care, boarding, grooming and training. Boarding includes all day play with the other dogs that come in for day care at no extra charge. We offer group training sessions through Pet Education and Therapy with Audrey Tucker, who was also my mentor. Grooming is by appointment.
Q. What is your background and what led you to Planet Bark?
A. Prior to coming here, I owned my own business as a painting contractor. My love of dogs led me to Planet Bark. I began by taking classes to become a Certified Trainer through the Animal Behavior College. I was an employee of Planet Bark for about a year before buying the business.
Q. How many people are on your staff? What training are employees given upon hire?
A. I currently have seven employees, some full time and some part time. The main qualification is that they must love dogs. New staff members train on-on-one with me or my lead manager. They learn about dog behavior and safety policies and procedures first and are then gradually introduced to working directly with the dogs. Some are also trained to work in the reception area.
Q. How do you test new dogs?
A. We start by introducing the new dog, one on one, with another dog – both on leashes. We see how the dogs react to one another. If all goes well, the new dog will then meet another dog. We would ease any new dog into a group very slowly. If my own dogs happen to be here, I might use them as test dogs.
Q. As you know I am writing a book about pit bulls. Unlike some other facilities, pit bulls are welcome guests at Planet Bark. Why is it that you accept all dogs, regardless of breed, and others do not?
A. I find that each dog has a unique personality and that is the key factor on whether or not I feel a dog will do well here. I have had to turn away dogs of many different breeds because their personalities and behaviors were not conducive to a group situation. I do not discriminate, based on breed – I can’t. Pit bulls can be big and strong but they are treated just like any other big dogs that come in. We have a few pits and pit mixes that are regular clients.
Q. Do you ever experience breed discrimination from owners of the dogs that use your facility?
A. We have worked very hard to get past the negative connotations associated with the breed and encourage our clients to do the same. I think perceptions of the breed are improving, especially among younger people. Occasionally, small dog owners will be a little fearful of the large dogs, regardless of breed.
Q. And how do you handle that?
A. There are separate play areas for large and small dogs, so I can reassure owners that their dogs will be kept in a group of dogs that are similar in size. If there is a frightened or shy dog in the reception area, I will ask the owner to step aside if other dogs come in, and owners coming in to be mindful and to keep their dogs under control.
Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?
A. At Planet Bark, people are in essence entrusting us with their children and we treat the dogs accordingly. We use positive reinforcement methods and time outs and try to redirect any unwanted behavior. Our number one concern is ensuring that the dogs are safe and happy.
If there are two dogs that don’t get along with each other but are good with the other dogs, we will separate them and rotate them in and out of the group. If we notice a change in behavior or if a dog is having a bad day, we will discuss it with the owners to try to find out if there is anything different at home that might be causing the behavior. Communication is always ongoing.
Dogs that board with us are checked every night before bedtime. We check their eyes, ears and look for any scratches, etc. If a dog needs veterinary care for any reason, at any time day or night, I will personally contact the owner and transport the dog wherever it needs to go to receive proper care. We have an emergency hospital right across the street if the situation requires immediate attention.
So, that is Planet Bark, a spotless, modern facility that accepts and embraces all dog breeds. If you are in the area and need a daycare or boarding facility for your dog, or if your dog needs training or grooming, you need look no further. Planet Bark is a one-stop destination for all of your needs.
It was a joy to observe the dogs in attendance. They seemed to truly appreciate their good fortune at being able to spend the day there. They were well cared for and well supervised. It is delightful place that any dog would enjoy.
Again, I thank you Melissa for your time, and especially for making your business a friendly destination for pit bulls and all other dogs as well. We believe as you do that it is the behavior and personality of a dog that matters, not the breed.
My pit bull Mickey will be visiting today for a nail trim. We are proud to support Planet Bark!!