When we walk in the door we are always met with smiles. Everyone is laughing and a commotion ensues. Someone from the front desk usually comes from behind to greet us so friendly and gets an exuberant welcome back. Yes, Charley our lab is back for a stay at the Kennel, or, as my husband calls it ‘Doggie Camp’.
When it happened or how it happened, I still don’t understand. Even back in the days when I hated our dog Charley, this place fell in love with him. Yes, this is the same dog you have heard me talk about over the years who was kicked out of one dog training class, couldn’t attend several kennels for various reasons and learned all the training lessons except when it came time to take the test refused to do some of the tasks on command. I, incidentally, gave up taking him when the instructor reprimanded both Charley and me numerous times, telling us both excessive rear-end sniffing in dog classes is distracting, poor obedience on Charley’s part and lack of good leadership on mine. So I threw the Cheerio treats to my husband and relinquished the leash to his other master after the 3rd insult. I think Charley wanted to retreat to the sidelines with me!
After the first or second visit, it became a ritual that every time a call was placed to kennel our pet that was always beloved by my husband and early on, hated by me, the kennel was ecstatic Charley was coming back to stay at this, our favorite and only place we put in. Apparently his trainers found his challenging ways fun. Why a large 125 lb. of energy, lack of coordination and slobber is hilarious, at that time, I didn’t quite get it. I wanted a small lab, perfectly obedient and docile in nature. What I got was a Marley reborn in our otherwise calm sedate house.
As he grew, his reaction to “doggie camp’ became as notorious as theirs. However, he did lose his group play time. Apparently he liked the King of the Mountain mentality thus, began humping everything in sight. In this case, that meant every dog. In safety for the other dogs and partially him, solo play became mandatory and our fixed dog was resigned to play only with a trainer alone. To this day, I think he planned it this way. He had a human, which he has always felt he was half human anyways, to himself. Undivided play time and pet time to himself for 20 glorious minutes as many times a day as we were willing to pay.
Charley’s report cards have consistently come back with glowing comments. He usually eats well, has received A to A+ in personality and poops well. That later part is no surprise as poop duty is the dread duty at our house. His trainers always seem to hate to see him go however we would happily leave him an extra day or two at no charge if they would like to just hang out with him for a bit longer. Nah, we would miss the big guy.
I always use to wonder why, when we picked him up, he seemed annoyed. Often times, he would run right past whichever one of us picked him up as if he didn’t know us or ignore us. We have figured it out, over time. He truly loves it there; it is nice break from us, just like a vacation is to us. Not that we don’t give him plenty of loving and attention but dogs too like distractions. And he appears to be loved on there, played with, fed well, gets plenty of treats, and has his dog bed, the doggie channel and his own suite, a full size cell.
When I call to make a reservation, there are several different packages to choose from, depending on how many playtime the dog is to have, late night pee breaks, treats, etc. For Charley, they always want me to get the max so that his trainer can get the added play time with him. I try to avoid the added expense but when I get there, they always remind me how much he is loved on and loves to play. In fact, there are times I haven’t paid for it and have been told they took him out anyways. These people are nuts about this clumsy galoot of a dog!
This last time, over Christmas, seemed to be the hardest time of all for us to leave our Charley. We were going to New York. Charley has been having a series of strokes, his last one being the largest. We know his time is starting to waver. We worry about how much time he has left.
As we walked in, once again we were greeted by a trainer and this time, without even switching leads, they took him from my husband and pulled him behind the large reception counter. We had not gotten a chance to say good-bye. As we stood there, after signing him in, we saw our dog, happy as can be, with everyone behind the counter fawning all over him and him lapping it up. As we looked at each other, we realized we were best to walk out and leave our dog in the loving care of a kennel that truly cares for him and feel blessed he would be there when we returned. And he was as the picture below shows, with once, again, glowing remarks and ticked off that we picked him up!