Meet the Owner
I have had the privilege of owning dogs all my life. Like other dog owners, there’s not a moment that goes by that I am not thinking of their well-being and my obligation to provide for my animals as if they were my children. Like a mother and a child, my day is ruined if I notice my dog is acting out of character. Yes, some may say it’s slightly neurotic but as you fellow dog owners know, we form family bonds with our animals that are unconditional.
The worst part of owning a dog is when you have to leave them. When I worked in the corporate world, I hated leaving my animals from 9-5, and driving out the driveway with them in the window broke my heart. They grew depressed and disruptive. The truth is dogs are pack animals and they need and want to be with the alpha dog…that would be me, or you; AKA the dog owner. I also traveled a lot for work, which was very exciting, and I was lucky to have such great opportunities. That being said the excitement always turned to anxiety when my thoughts of separation from my dogs would occur to me. Whom would I have dog sit my dogs? Would they care for them with kindness and consideration? If I booked them at a kennel would they be stuck in a cage for hours on end? I found that experiencing daily dog care and overnight dog care was almost impossible to find because I was so picky. To be fair I am sure my pickiness eliminated other capable dog care providers, which would have been just fine. But I needed better than just fine!
In 2011 I decided that my love for dogs was greater than my love of my six-figure-paying corporate job. I knew in my heart that I wanted to open my own doggie daycare but in order to do so I needed experience. Loving my own dogs was easy but being that special provider for other animals would require a different skill set so I set off to learn the business.
My first job in my new career was with a company called Doody Calls. I thought, maybe this was what I would buy. I spent a year scooping poop at residential homes (in affluent areas on the North Shore) and commercial park areas. I soon became humbled. This is the time when friendships sorted themselves out; no one could understand why I would leave a lucrative career for this! In all types of weather I dragged around a bucket and a rake in my uniform, drove a lime green truck that told the world I was in the poop business, and told myself constantly how much I loved my new job. Believe it or not, there is a special way to find poop, recognize it in leaves, scoop it into the bucket with a swift twist of the wrist, and bag it! I became a poop guru. I could distinguish between a healthy dog and a sick dog based on their poop. I became the poop whisperer and clients 100% appreciated my recommendations when I said that their pooch might have an ailment based on said poop. Heck, I was saving dog lives and that was making me happy.
by Pam Doherty
During this time I started getting referred out to people who needed their dogs cared for and I spent a lot of time dog-sitting at people's homes. It came to the point that my nights and weekends were filled with dogs whose owners entrusted them to my care. At this time I knew that my dream of a doggie daycare was starting to take shape.
Not having any experience in owning and operating a dog daycare facility I knew that the best way to gain the experience necessary was to work at one. In 2012 I approached the owner of Romp and Roll Dog Daycare in Newbury and convinced him to hire me. I told him my goal was to be the manager of his facility someday and he gave me the opportunity to achieve this goal.
I remember my first day as if were yesterday. I took the leash of a very playful dog that proceeded to pull me off my feet and into the air. My 120-pound 55-year-old body hit the floor. I remember calling my boss and tearfully telling him that maybe I was not cut out for the job, but he convinced me to give it a chance. I did.
For the next year and a half at Romp and Roll, I learned the importance of gaining a dog's trust and that of its owner. I identified the challenges quickly. The first is, how important it is to maintain a clean and safe environment for a healthy dog. I learned about the quirks of the different dog breeds, and how the alpha dogs and the submissive dogs act with one another. I learned the different personalities of the animals and how they interacted with male or female staff. I was able to prevent dogs from being unfriendly with other dogs, and how to incorporate them together at their own pace for the betterment of the pack. I also learned how to maintain a well-trained staff. I was promoted to Manager.
My departure from Romp and Roll in 2013 was bittersweet. The sweet part was that I had reached my goal to learn and gain experience, now I needed to own and operate my own Doggie Daycare. The bitter part was leaving the dogs that I had become so attached to; you never learn to leave behind the dogs and the love and happiness that you develop with them.
It took me several months to let go emotionally of the dogs I left behind. A few owners followed me into my new venture because of the bond that was developed between their pets and me.
In the winter of 2013 after departing Romp and Roll, I opened The Beach Dog Daycare and focused my business on providing overnight dog boarding and pet sitting services in people's homes. In 2014 I expanded my services to include full dog daycare focusing on small dogs under 30 pounds and added pick up and drop off services.
So here I am, loving my dogs and yours. I never regret my decision to leave Corporate America, a wagging tail and a lick in the face make up for it every day!