Health and Safety
Love is not enough. We firmly believe that anyone who chooses to work with animals must invest in facilities and training to ensure that the animals in their care remain healthy and safe. There are inherent risks that come from being a living, breathing being. While life has no guarantees, we strive to do everything we can to keep our kennels as healthy and safe as possible.
We deal with lots of little "boo boos" - a bump on the head from repeatedly going through the doggie door too fast, or a scratched nose from banging it against the chain link fence. These issues are part of having fun while being alive.
Other than natural disasters, the biggest risks when several dogs are brought together are disease, parasites, weather-related issues, bites, fights, self-harm, escape and fire. Here's what we do for prevention - what we do to make our place as healthy and safe as possible:
We live on-site. Our kennel is about a city block away from our home. If there's a sound, big storm or something that doesn't feel right, we're a brief walk away. And, during a winter blizzard, we may get temporarily stranded like everyone else, but we're stranded with our guests.
We have a 16-camera video system recording everything that happens in our building. It is 24/7 recording - not 24/7 supervision. When your dog is sleeping, so are we. Being in-kennel/home in the same building as boarded guests and being awake/alert with boarded guests are two separate issues.
We have a driveway alarm in our home. Any time someone enters our property it rings, and that ringer is beside our bed at night.
We have monitored alarms, and if one goes off we can simply run across the yard to the kennel. (We’ve had several false alarms over the years where we’ve jogged to the kennel in our pajamas in the snow in the middle of the night!)
We have a 6' perimeter fence around the entire kennel and play yard.
We have an auto-start 36 kw emergency back-up propane generator. When the power goes out, we don't notice at all because our generator starts on its own and keeps us going.
We have no social life. Really.
We also have trail-cams that record happenings in our yard.
All customers must fill out a registration form that provides contact names, numbers and dog profiles. That way we understand your dog's particular needs and tendencies, and issues, and can reach you or someone you trust in the event of an emergency. That sign-off also allows us to take our guests to a veterinarian for medical issues.
We have lots of knowledge and experience with pet medical issues. We have been teaching Canada's leading pet first aid certification program, Walks 'N' Wags, and have been running our kennels since 2002. During that time we've dealt with small things from bladder infections to diahrea, and extremely serious medical conditions from strokes to cancers. We know what to look for and how to respond.
We have a very large, well-stocked first aid kit and know how to use it.
When we take our vacation, we close. We don't trust anyone to provide the same level of care as we do.
Disease and parasites
All dogs must be vaccinated. Germs are everywhere - on the sidewalk, at the park, on your shoes. (A friend of ours says "there's a fecal veneer everywhere" ... ew!) By keeping your dog's vaccinations current, you're doing your part to keep your dog's immune system strong and able to fight disease. Some dogs can't be vaccinated due to illness and age, so if your dog is capable of being vaccinated, you're also protecting others. If you choose not to vaccinate, you're also choosing not to board with us.
We insist that vaccinations be given by a veterinarian. When dogs receive regular veterinary care, they are also more likely to be using effective parasite control, and have early detection and treatment for medical conditions. Many health issues such as heart conditions, thyroid problems, and cancers can show little early symptoms, but can easily be detected by your veterinarian. By choosing to self-vaccinate, you're also choosing not to board with us.
We clean, then we clean, then we clean some more. We do light housekeeping every day. Between guests, every kennel and Kuranda bed is cleaned using commercial scrubbers and is thoroughly disinfected using commercial products.
Bites, Fights, Stress and Self-Harm
We have solid walls between guests. By keeping a private space, stress is greatly reduced.
We have wide-alleys, 20 feet in fact. When a dog is in their kennel, the nearest dog they can see on the other side of the hallway is 20 feet away. Some dogs need their personal space, and we give them lots.
Dogs from different families are not boarded together, and don't play together without consent from both families. We're very social in that our guests are around lots of other dogs, but it's very safe and controlled, so the risk of cooties, bites and fights is minimal. (If you are interested in doggie daycare or off-leash playgroup services, here's a link The Dog Gurus Operating Standards. It is a very comprehensive list of minimum acceptable standards that customers should look for when selecting a business for that service. )
For multi-pet families, we charge the same rate per dog for one or more dogs even if they do not share the same kennel. That way we encourage dog owners to do the right thing by their dog rather than to save a few bucks by keeping dogs together when they don't always get along.
If a guest isn't getting along with their neighbour, we move one of them.
We provide very large water buckets so the big dogs never run out of water and can't tip them over, but we make sure the little guys get little bowls so they can't fall into them.
No unsupervised pool time. We only have kiddie pools, but that's all it takes to drown.
Destructive or aggressive dogs are not accepted. Unfortunately, we recently told a good customer with two chocolate labs that they cannot come back. If we can't provide suitable care for your dog, you can't board with us.
We hang medications up high. That way if anyone is out of their kennel, they can't get into another dogs medications.
Injuries from heat and cold
We do all of our pick-ups and deliveries early in the mornings. The van is suitably heated and air conditioned, but should we have vehicle trouble it shouldn't be during the mid-day sun.
Our building is huge - 5800 square feet. Each kennel is 5x25'. Your dog will never be over-crowded in a small unventilated area. We do not over-book. We also do not crate dogs to fit more in during peak season.
The timing of play-time is weather dependent. We'd rather cancel playtime when it's plus or minus 30 than deal with heat stroke or hypothermia.
For summer play time, water and shade is always available.
In case our heat-pumps fail, which if they failed, would be in the middle of winter, we have several 400 watt commercial electrical back-up heaters.
Building temperature is remotely monitored by SaskTel SecureTec. If our kennel building heating system malfunctioned, we would be notified immediately, and because we live on site, we would be in the building immediately.
We do not board dogs with known destructive tendencies. If they will chew their way out of a space, our place is obviously not secure enough for them.
Our registration form includes questions about escape tendencies.
We have a double-fence system. Every dog has their own fenced area, and there is also a perimeter fence around the whole yard. For a dog to escape they would have to leap over two fenced areas.
Each door has a butterfly clip with an extra "child-proof" clip attached. Most men have trouble getting into them :)
Our delivery van is loaded and unloaded right inside the kennel. This way, no dog can slip away when we're moving them, it's well-lit during dark winter months, and the dogs are getting into a warm van in the winter and a cool van in the summer.
We have remote SaskTel SecureTec break-in and fire monitoring. We deal with lots of false alarms, but we also have peace of mind.
To avoid externally started fires, we keep dry grass short around the kennel. The outside gravel surround the building also acts as a fire barrier.
Our large crusher-dust play runs double as an evacuation area.
For an in-facility fire, we have 10 commercial fire extinguishers located throughout the kennel. The extinguishers are inspected and certified on a regular maintenance schedule.
Our kennels are indoor-outdoor. Your dog gets to decide what makes them feel good. And, in the event of a fire, they could exit the building and be moved to safety from the outside.
Should our kennel building come under threat, the dogs could be relocated to our 30x60' heated shop and our home, which are located on our acreage.
As well, should the whole region come under threat, we co-ordinated a collaboration program with most other local pet care facility owners. All of us are committed to working together to help one another to transport and house animals in the event of an emergency.
We know there's no perfect system, that there are always risks and that health and safety is a continuous process. You have our commitment that we'll do everything we possibly can to keep our guests as healthy and safe as possible.