Pdx is raining cats and . . . more cats

Long celebrated as one of the dog-lovingest cities in the nation, Portland might soon lead the rankings for being feline-friendly as well. Businesses such as Cats in the City have been joined by Mittens Motel, Meow Haus, Purrington’s Café, Pounce Play and Stay in March, and a second location for Cats in the City in April.

Touted as a "deluxe cat hotel," guests at Pounce Play and Stay, located at 2808 NE MLK Blvd, enjoy a rotating schedule of play time, brushing, and snuggles, and custom mini-condos outfitted with toys, heated beds, custom scratching structures and music and videos designed for cats’ comfort and entertainment. Pounce also offers in-home care and dog walking in NE and NW Portland, and is currently seeking new members for its team. Learn more in a future issue of Spot, and at pounceplayandstay.com.

Cats in the City, which originally opened in 2007 in Sellwood, is celebrating a second location at 415 NE 80th Ave in NE Portland. The newest space boasts a catio, a 125-gallon aquarium, a grand staircase converted into a 2-story playhouse (“The Mountaineer Room”) featuring windows, landings and steps, and plumbed fountains to please a kitty’s love of drinking from faucets. The 4,000 square-foot resort offers 22 furnished guest rooms with private beds, windows, cubbies, towers, stairs, and perches. The medical-grade floors and air scrubbers.

Services include play and cuddle time, and calming music and television. Learn more at catsinthecity.com

Never a kennel and always a blast

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The most unique feature of 3 Dogs Boarding and Daycare, and one that owners Anne Graves and Mike Lauria are very proud of, is cage-free boarding.  “People just naturally like the idea of not having their dogs confined in cages,” says Lauria.  “I’ve spent plenty of time working for more traditional kennels, and I can say that cage-free boarding greatly reduces the stress dogs experience from kenneling.  They’re not reacting to things moving around their cages, and not reacting to each other.” 

3 Dogs is divided into two roughly 2,000 square-foot spaces, one for boarding, one for play.  During the day, when dogs are there for boarding and day care, Graves and Lauria can host up to 70 dogs.  Every new canine client is carefully evaluated to make sure they’re a good fit, and the dogs are grouped based on energy level and play style.  After those in daycare are picked up or shuttled home, dogs in boarding remain out of kennels, even at night.  “The dogs come into the boarding room and they’re just loose,” says Lauria, “but they are constantly supervised by staff on-site, 24 hours a day.”   

Lauria has worked in various capacities with dogs for nearly 20 years.  Graves was a veterinary technician and wildlife research volunteer in South Africa.  “That was amazing,” she says, “but I realized I wanted to get back to domesticated animals!”   

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In the five years that Lauria and Graves have operated 3 Dogs, they’ve developed an appreciative client base — of both people and pups.  “The dogs that come in for boarding and daycare literally drag their owners through the door because they’re pulling on the leash so much!” says Lauria.  “They really do have a blast and the owners see that.” 

3 Dogs Boarding and Daycare

5430 NE 42nd Ave, Portland

503-206-3028 * 3dogs.biz

Dogs Dig It . . . doing things right

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Apparently it’s not just dogs that dig this daycare, but people do, too!  Dogs Dig It won high Top Dog honors in six categories this year, proving that in the care of new owner Ryan Kling, the business has grown and improved, and people have noticed. 

Kling purchased Dogs Dig It in August 2012.  “I had looked at several kennels and daycares, and none really looked like the kind of place I would want to take my own dog until I found this one,” he says.  “It has a great client base and a great facility in a great place.”  One thing dogs and their people dig here is the huge play space.  “They can run around in 14,000 square feet, and about 9,000 of that is outdoor,” says Kling.  “Customers love taking their dog home and having them sleep for a day and half because they’ve had the space to run and have high-energy play.”  Astroturf with drainage allows urine and water to go right through it, keeping the dogs clean and the facility smelling fresh.  

Knowing from experience how difficult budgeting daycare or boarding can be, Kling was especially pleased to win the Boarding on a Budget category.  “I’ve always tried to stay right in the middle or slightly below market price, and that’s apparently hit a nice tune with my customers,” he says.  “We recognize that it’s not cheap to add on the expense of daycare and boarding.  You have to care for your dog, and make sure s/he’s staying in a happy, fun place.”  

A big part of DDI’s appeal, says Kling, is the “fantastic” staff that gets to know the dogs and the people personally.  “They get to know their quirks and what makes them happy,” he says, “and they’re really good at managing the dogs for happy, playful, safe packs.  The folks on staff here love dogs, our customers, and their jobs, because they get to play with the 4-legged customers every day.”  Dogs Dig It is conveniently located in SE Portland, and offers end of day shuttle service. 

Before becoming a boarding/daycare business owner, Kling says he was a customer, with Chewie, his 50 lb. “mixed mutt” Boxer/Healer mix.  “Out of all the daycares I visited there seemed to be something lacking or something that could be done better,” he says.  “I’ve visited different boarders and daycares with other dogs throughout my life and I was just never super satisfied with the way they did things.” 

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At 42, Kling is not only a new business owner, but a new father.  He and his wife, then pregnant, moved to Portland from Seattle to purchase DDI.  They now have an 11-month-old son.  Formerly a business consultant, Kling now combines his experience as a dog owner and business expert.  “I’ve always been kind of an entrepreneur, and this job struck a chord, so we took a leap,” he says.  “It’s been really great.  I’ve been able to improve the business and how we deliver services, and make it what it is today.  With our dedicated customer base I think it proves we’re doing things right.” 

Dogs Dig It Daycare

1132 Se Salmon St, Portland

503-236-8222 * dogsdigit.net

Tips from the Top - Daycare & Boarding

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Tails R Waggin'

Juli and Charlie Gilbert

1.  Check out different types of facilities.

Do you need a place where your dog can play all day to burn energy so he or she will sleep?  If so, a daycare / boarding environment would be best.  Is your dog older and/or non-social and with less need for play time?  Then you may need a place that does leash walking a few times during the day or provides traditional boarding.  If your dog has medical issues, ask your veterinarian to board your dog so they’re right there to provide medical attention if the need arises. 

2.  Vaccinations must be current. 

Usually these include Distemper / Parvo, Bordatella (kennel cough) and Rabies.  Most places want your dog to be on monthly flea and heartworm preventative as well.  It is important for your dogs to be vaccinated well ahead of being boarded.  If administered right before, sometimes the stress of boarding or a weak immune system can trigger sickness. 

3.  Visit ahead of time.

After passing the daycare interview process at our facility, we always encourage a dog’s owner to bring the dog in for one or two short visits to acclimate him or her to our facility before their boarding visit.  This gives the dog time to get comfortable here with our staff, and also for us to better get to know your dog.  It also helps us address any separation anxiety or other issues your dog may have.

Personal Note:  Tails R Waggin' Doggy Day Care opened in August of 2008 and is owned by Charlie and Juli Gilbert.  We provide a safe and fun place for your canine companions to play while your family is busy at work or away.  Charlie has over 20+ years' experience training and handling dogs with behavior issues.  Juli has worked in the veterinary field for over 20 years and is a licensed CVT.

4925 NW Fruit Valley Road, Vancouver, WA  *  360-258-0986  *  TailsRWagginDoggyDaycare.com

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Mittens Motel

Brandy Slack

1.   Check out the culture and communication.

Will that facility treat your furry family member like family?  When we have a boarder at Mittens Motel, we make sure we either send texts or a picture of their babies to let them know how they’re doing.  We're very open with our communications.  When considering a facility, ask what services are available for keeping pet parents in touch while they’re away.

2.  How does the facility ensure comfort?

Talk to the boarding facility about how much interaction your pet will have with other humans.  At Mittens, getting our boarders to trust us is an important part of ensuring their stay is a comfortable one.  We will sit with our boarders or entice them with a little wet food to help them get acquainted and feel comfortable.  This usually works with cats who are very shy or who tend to be less comfortable with being boarded.  We want their time with us to be calming so their stay will be less stressful next time. 

3.  Do they get to come out and play?

We want our boarders to feel like they're home, so we allow them out of their rooms to play or mingle!  If you feel this would be important for your kitty, ask the facility if this is allowed.  This would also be a good time to discuss your own cat’s temperament when it comes to other cats.  

Personal Note:   We are an all-cat boarding facility in NE Portland, the only cat boarding where cats are let out of their individual rooms to interact with us and other cats.  We don't allow any fighting - most of the time the cats just want to play or sleep.  Our Home Away From Home Atmosphere is conveniently located in NE Portland.  Proprietors: Brandy Slack and Denise Struzan  

6025 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland, OR  *  503-718-5937  *  MittensMotel.com

3 Dogs Boarding & Daycare

Anne Graves

1.   Do your homework.

Take your time, do your research.  Portland is home to a tremendous variety of boarding kennels, so give yourself plenty of time to explore your options.  And even with all of these choices, kennels still fill up quickly during busier times; avoid last-minute shopping, especially around major holidays.  Research prospective choices carefully; read reviews online, call and visit any boarding kennel that you’re considering.

2.   Visit the facility and ask questions. 

Look for these things during a tour:

•           A clean, spacious environment with plenty of natural light.

•           Constant access to fresh water.

•           A secure outdoor area.

•           Excessive barking that could indicate stress.

•           An adequate staff-to-dog ratio.

Ask plenty of questions, such as:  What are the vaccine requirements, What happens in the case of injury or medical emergency, and Are the dogs ever left unattended.

3.   Get to know the staff. 

Look for a kennel with professional, friendly, experienced staff.  Observe them while they interact with the dogs, and ask how they deal with problem behaviors.  Keep in mind that the person at the front desk may not be the one actually taking care of your pet; you have every right to meet those who will be.  Be very selective in choosing people with whom you feel comfortable.

Personal Note:  3 DOGS offers cage-free boarding and daycare in a climate-controlled, 4000 square foot facility, with staff on-site 24 hours a day.  We have over 5000 square feet of securely fenced outdoor space, making our outdoor play area one of the largest in Portland.  Located at NE 42nd and Killingsworth, just minutes from the airport.  Convenient shuttle service available.

5430 NE 42nd Ave., Portland, OR  *  503-206-3028  *  3Dogs.biz

Is daycare right for your dog?

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Daycare for dogs is a relatively new phenomenon, originally introduced in trend-setting cities such as New York and San Francisco in the early 1990s.  In the last 10 to 15 years, daycares have become a norm for dog — and more recently, cat — owners.  In NE Portland alone, the industry has quickly grown to include eight dog daycares.  These types of offerings, together with pet boutiques and supply stores, dog parks and dog-friendly restaurants, mean the pooch is out and about more than ever,  and of course we want them to “be good” in a crowd.

Yet, while visiting any one of these pet-friendly venues, you’ll likely occasionally witness tantrums, aggression and even downright bullying between animals.  Whether this comes from over-stimulation or grumpiness, these behaviors can cause tension and fighting between dogs. 

Sadly, in the daycare setting, this type of behavior often leads to timeouts, discipline and removal from the premises.  After hearing that their dogs are causing issues, many owners’ first response is calling their dog “bad” and asking how they can “fix” the behavior.  The fact is, these dogs aren’t bad — they’re stressed out by the situation.

The reality is, many dogs do not enjoy the company of other dogs in a daycare setting — and that’s perfectly acceptable.  Often a dog will initially seem to enjoy playgroups, but as they settle in will begin to exhibit behaviors that clearly convey stress.  Some dogs are not well socialized with other dogs, so are nervous or submissive in large groups.  Other dogs become the playgroup bully, herder, or are quick to react negatively when approached by an undesirable dog. 

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While these dogs are usually harmless, snapping at the "wrong" dog can quickly start a scuffle.  On the flipside, there are dogs that love being around other dogs but who quickly become over-stimulated.  These dogs often don't respond to signals from other dogs — or humans.  While they mean no harm, these dogs can turn a playgroup chaotic.

For families facing these types of canine behavioral challenges, solutions range from simple socializing skills to intense therapy.

Gaining social skills

For dogs lacking social skills, start with playdates with neighbors or family members with dogs.  If your dog enjoys these interactions, take a step further and visit a local dog park to see if he is still comfortable with increasing dog interactions.  Make several visits to the park to see if your dog continues to enjoy himself; if she does, try daycare again.

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Learning to relax

If your dog is the defensive, bullying or over-stimulated type, but playgroups are a desirable option for your family, consult an expert.  There are many great certified trainers and behaviorists who can support positive change in how a dog interacts with other dogs.  Keep in mind that the process takes time, patience and dedication on the part of everyone involved.

At the end of the day, if daycare isn’t a fit, don’t feel bad about finding another option for your dog.  Hiring a dog walker or carving out playtime at home may be the perfect solution.  Not all dog breeds or personalities are daycare-friendly, but that doesn't make them “bad” — it’s just their individual dog personalities shining through.

All photos © Kim Hormby


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Kim Hormby provides strategic consulting services for pet business owners interested in improving or starting a pet-related organization. She is also the owner and founder of Stay Pet Hotel, a boutique hotel for dogs in Portland, Oregon.

Popular doggie hotel expands

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Sniff Dog Hotel, a popular Portland doggie daycare and boarding “hotel,” will break ground this fall on a four-story addition adjacent to their existing property, doubling the already spacious 10,000 square foot business to become the largest canine hotel in the Northwest.

The new space will offer two outdoor play areas and additional suites, allowing the business to serve more guests.  Sniff currently sees approximately 100 dogs a day, and often has a waiting list for daycare.  “We’re basically full right now,” says Sniff co-owner Corey Murry.  “This will allow much more flexibility for our guests.  We’ll have more play area so we can put dogs with different needs and personalities together, giving them all a little more variation throughout the day.”  Sniff will also be upgrading its already swanky digs.  Business won’t be affected during construction, and the expansion should be complete by spring 2013.  Learn more at SniffDogHotel.com.

Lazy Dog Crazy Dog: Smiles Guaranteed

Top Dog Winner Lazy Dog Crazy Dog is reinventing doggie daycare and boarding in Portland.  Its owners, Pete and Jackie McClellan, are also inventing a new language for their industry.  For example, “tommy and taddy,” meaning “temporary mommy and daddy,” refers to them and their eight employees.  The McClellans maintain the philosophy that a dog “is more than a family member.”  Says Jackie, “We treat our dogs like they’re somebody’s kids.  Like they’re our kids.”

What goes into the making of a ...Good Dog!

How’s your dog?  Whether your family’s first pet, or a recent new addition, most dogs — like their human counterparts — come with a few quirks. 

Depending on the nature of said “quirk,” behaviors run the gamut from amusing to stressful.  And of course some can be really expensive.  Behaviors like separation anxiety, chewing, and barking can make the otherwise wonderful experience of life with dog a challenge, and sometimes even untenable.  Following is a how-to guide every dog parent needs but doesn’t always know where to find.  Spot spoke with three experts in training and socialization who shared their best tips on the making of a good dog.