By Amy Fendley
They’ll pick-up, drop-off, walk, water, play with, even massage your canine. The Puppy Zone Dog Daycare and Adventure Centre Inc. is a new business in town catering to dogs and their owners. Their plan is to provide a service, not just for locals, but also for the touring Rover.
It is difficult to take a dog skiing or golfing. And it is never a wise idea to leave a dog locked in a car or a hotel room.
Puppy Zone owners Tammy and Tony Huculak reside in Vancouver. The lawyer and accountant team spend their weekends in Whistler, skiing, golfing or kayaking. They have two dogs of their own and through experience have discovered the small handful of hotels that allow dogs. But these places, Tammy Huculak says, are vigilant about not allowing dogs to be kept in a room unattended. They’ve also noticed the large number of unleashed local dogs wandering around town.
"The municipality is trying to get all dogs licensed, it’s important for their health and safety, but it’s surprising how many dogs you see just walking down the highway. Owners need to take responsibility for their pets," Tammy Huculak says.
After months researching the need for such a business in Whistler, talking to guests and residents as well as watching how dogs in a daycare setting learn socialization skills, the couple opened their first dog daycare centre, in Whistler Village Centre.
"The socialization skills that dogs learn by going to daycare really result in dramatic personality changes," says Huculak. "The dogs receive obedience training while they’re here. Daisy (a first-time Zone pup) was here all day and by the end of the day she was walking better, her social disposition improved and after a rough day of playing, she went home tired."
The daycare’s schedule includes an hour-long walk first thing in the morning, then they play a lot and receive individual attention, including massages. In the afternoon, another walk. By the end of the day they’re pooped.
All five of the Puppy Zone’s staff members have been trained to walk up to six dogs at a time. The dogs are walked wearing MartinGale training collars, designed with a choke mechanism to prevent the dogs from escaping the leash.
The dog-walkers were taught the basics about having to be the leader of the pack. Descendants of wolves, dogs travel as packs, and when there is a pack situation, there is a pecking order to determine the alpha dog of the group.
In addition to offering resort guests a place to leave their dog, the daycare service also provides locals with a guilt-free alternative to leaving the dog home alone during the day, evening, or overnight.
Puppy Zone Manager Tara Field advises people who are considering leaving their pet at The Puppy Zone to be sure their dog has had shots for rabies and distemper, and the animal should be neutered or spayed.
On Feb. 18 the Puppy Zone, in conjunction with Coast Mountain Veterinary Services, will be hosting a Puppy Party, an informational training night to be held at 7 p.m. at the Puppy Zone. The Puppy Party is open to all puppies 16 weeks and older who have received all vaccines including Bordetella (kennel cough). For more information, call 932-5391.