The Mile High Canine Club Story
In February of 2005 my girlfriend and I rescued a Great Dane from the Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue. She was six months old, severely malnourished and cute as can be. We already had 2 rescue dogs (Henry and Morgan) so we had some experience with the behavior, diet and socialization anomalies that adopted dogs can bring with them. The night we picked her up, the foster family told us how she spent her first six months of life. She and her two sisters had been found in a garden shed in Nebraska. They were all scared and emaciated but completely adorable. Our baby, LuLu, was the worst of the three. She was afraid of every noise, walked with a tucked tail, never barked or whimpered and didnâ€™t know how to play. She didnâ€™t understand typical canine social cues: Week two in our house when she approached Henry while he was eating a bone, he gave her a warning growl. She didnâ€™t have any idea what it meant. She didnâ€™t recognize play behavior and didnâ€™t understand why Morganâ€™s tail was always wagging. The rescue advised us to get her some formal socialization. Since LuLu was our baby (still is, really), we wanted to find a worthy dog daycare and kennel to take her one or two days a week to help her understand the fundamentals. Thus we embarked on a thorough search of the Denver dog daycare market.
We used the typical search tools to identify our prospects (yellow pages, Google, Yahoo, etc). Dog daycare isnâ€™t a new concept in Denver â€“ there are several establishments operating all over the metro area. We identified the ones closest to us, asked everyone we knew for ones we may have missed and visited each one asking the most detailed questions possible. We may have spent more time interviewing these places than some people do looking for child care.
We asked about outdoor terrain, playgroup segregation, permissible toys, dog to staff ratio, operating hours, incident handling procedures, feeding and medication procedures, nap time requirements, water intake monitoring, staff education and cleaning habits. We werenâ€™t surprised to find that many places have similar setups. There were a couple of great places that we loved but they were either too far or booked out three weeks in advance. We just werenâ€™t satisfied with the level of care provided in the places closest to us that had immediate availability. Thus, we decided to start our own establishment.
My girlfriend and I approached a fellow dog lover (she too has two rescue dogs) with our idea to start a dog daycare and kennel. We all three volunteer with rescues and other dog organizations, have a passion for animal care, donate to several animal causes and want our babies to be spoiled at all times. These philosophies created a strong foundation for Mile High Canine Club.
The three of us spent weeks searching for the perfect facility. We wanted something with a large outdoor and indoor area. We wanted something close and convenient but far enough from a major intersection (just in case a dog got off leash during drop off or pick up). We wanted something with multiple outdoor access points (to allow playgroups to go out different doors). After 2 months of searching, we found the perfect place. It was zoned correctly, the landlord welcomed our application (many others denied us based on the animal aspect), and the indoor area was huge (4,800 sq ft) with multiple access points to the 7,500 sq ft outside space (already enclosed by a 6 foot cedar fence!). We immediately signed a lease and hired a contractor to begin building our dream canine palace at 1346 W. Cedar Avenue.
We hired a designer to do our space planning and building layout. She measured the place, designed a beautiful lobby with lots of windows (so owners could view the playgroups), and created four distinct play areas that could be collapsed into two (in case we had larger playgroups). She designed the entrance door on one end and the exit on the other to eliminate the congestion of dogs in one opening. She picked great colors, great materials and the build out began.
During the construction phase, we joined a few email group lists for dog daycare and kennel owners. This provided valuable information and lessons learned from around the nation. One of the advantages to working in the dog care field is the willingness of others to share information. After all, we do have the same goal in mind: canine care. Through these email discussions we learned best practices for interviewing dogs, feeding restrictions, effective operating procedures and much more.
We used all of our research and past experience volunteering with rescues and humane societies to create our own operating procedures to support our philosophy. We are differentiating ourselves by spoiling our members the way we spoil our own dogs. We do this by providing more amenities like purified water and filtered air, dog beds, lots of toys, healthy treats, plenty of playtime and cuddle time, a trained and educated staff, an onsite manager with Veterinarian Assistant training, partnering with a knowledgeable vet, an outdoor area without pea gravel (to minimize irritated paws) and calling customers to provide updates on their dog while they are out of town. Our web cams provide customers with the ability to view their dogs while they are away. We ask owners to provide food to mitigate unnecessary gastrointestinal disruption. We administer medications and donâ€™t charge a premium to do so. Our kennel rates are the same 365 days a year; we donâ€™t charge more for holiday stays. Our goal is to make the dog and owner happy. We believe that a well socialized and loved dog is a happier dog. We created an environment that allowed our LuLu, to gain confidence and make friends (she actually wags her tail, fetches and barks now!). We would like to share that environment with your babies.
In addition to providing exceptional canine care to our customers, we also continue to assist the rescue organizations. It is our mission to partner with area rescues and assist in facilitating fundraising events as often as possible. In our first month of business we hosted a dog wash to benefit the Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue. We charged $10/wash and 95% of the money was given to the rescue. In November 2005 we are hosting the Good Samaritan Pet Adoption Center Holiday Open House. We are allowing them to use our facility free of charge. We have also contacted other local rescues and humane societies offering our facility and time. Promoting these worthwhile organizations is important to us. After all, they started this mission by bringing LuLu into our family.
If you are in need of dog daycare and/or kenneling, give us a call. We would be happy to provide your dogâ€™s first day free of charge, after they pass the initial behavioral interview, that is. Come in today to see what a day does for your dog!
Mile High Canine Club
1346 W. Cedar Ave
Denver, CO 80223
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