There are several reasons why we elected to close day care on days surrounding holidays, but they all revolve around the safety of the dogs in our care and the quality of the service we can provide. All of our decisions and policies are driven by these factors.
We adhere to a capacity limit. In order to keep our play groups at safe and manageable sizes, we limit the number of dogs we can take in a day, on any given day. This is why we are a reservations-only facility, because we really want to spare any clients the inconvenience of coming here only to be told we are full. We keep a strict dog-to-dog handler ratio, and thanks to that we have a low incidence rate of many common “ugly truths” about doggy day care, such as bites or fights. The way you may have heard me explain it is to ask people to think of it as kids in a pool – how many kids would you want 1 lifeguard responsible for watching? In the case of days leading up most holidays, if we remain open for both day care and boarding clients, we would have seriously jeopardized our ability to maintain safety for our dogs and our dog handlers, and this is not an acceptable situation for me – despite the incredibly hard choice to disappoint clients.
We have established a precedence (like many businesses) of offering limited services or modified hours over holiday periods. We are a day care and boarding facility, and we will prioritize boarding services over day care services during these periods because we consider it the greater need for our clients. While day care is an important need, critical in some cases I understand, if a dog is scheduled to board with us it is because his or her owner(s) will not be home and there is no one to care for that dog at the end of the day. That said, when clients are in binds, we are always willing to try to accommodate them. We have countless examples of welcoming dogs for unplanned day care due to lost electricity, emergency home repairs, owner illnesses or injuries, etc etc. All anyone ever has to do is ask, and we do our best to help under special circumstances.
We feel strongly about the quality of our offering. Some of our clients bring their dogs here because they need basic care during the day – feeding, watering, potty, some love and attention – but many bring their pups here because they want their dogs to socialize and have play time. They want their dogs’ experiences to be about getting their energy out and getting their exercise. If we accept more dogs than we can handle in playgroup, we sacrifice the service we provide, because we must limit the quantity of dogs in a playgroup. We could still take care of the dog, and the dog would be safe and sound, but that dog would not necessarily be integrated into the playgroup, and while that is absolutely fine for some our clients, for many it is not the experience for which they bring their dog to us.
From a business perspective, it is not my desire to turn away business. And we never set out to inconvenience, frustrate, or disappoint our clients (of course). But I feel avoiding the risk of deviating from our safety protocols or of not maintaining the quality our clients have come to expect is worth the forgone revenue as well as the risk of clients being unhappy about the closed day care days.
I hope that if you took the time to read this, that the context at least provides some understanding and appreciation of what drive these decisions. I always welcome feedback from the Love My Doggy Day Care family, good and bad, so please do feel free to let me know if you have any comments. Thank you!