Judge me if you must — I’m pretty sure I would condemn me if I read the following — but our pup stayed at a luxury dog hotel over Thanksgiving break.
I don’t think of my family as a “pampered pooch” kind of clan, but circumstances put us in need of a really good place to watch our dog for a week.
By really good, I mean a place that could handle a 4-month-old puppy who couldn’t be left at our house with our regular dog-sitters due to her chewing, peeing in the house and other puppy neediness.
A good question might be why, if we had a 4-month-old puppy, did we decide to leave for a week? We made the travel plans before we lost our beloved dog, Daisy, who died just before Labor Day. We were devastated but got right back on the wagon with an 8-week-old puppy, Pauley (named for UCLA’s basketball arena, Pauley Pavilion).
About two weeks before Thanksgiving, it dawned on me that we needed a different dog-sitting arrangement for Pauley. Someone checking in on her before and after work would not be enough, especially after all the time we’d invested in making her a well-adjusted family dog. I imagined her outside, digging her way out of loneliness, barking herself hoarse, and other behaviors we’d worked hard to curb.
So I asked one of the veterinary technicians at Midtown Animal Clinic what she would recommend. Without hesitation, she said, “Wag Hotel.”
I’d heard of the Wag Hotel in West Sacramento, and had even taken Pauley to a free puppy play time there before she had all her shots and couldn’t be exposed to unvaccinated dogs. But was I ready to be the kind of person who checked my dog into a hotel … which, obviously, would lead to diamond-studded collars and puppy pedicures!
Long story short, we checked Pauley into Wag, and it was better than we could have hoped. With her six-night stay, she had a daily “all-day play” pass, which meant from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., she was in a giant indoor area, romping, frolicking and cavorting with other dogs. Imagine a dog park where all the pups are extremely well-behaved, and the people watching over them are highly invested in making sure it stays clean and everyone gets along.
We know this is the environment of Wag’s all-day play area because we watched their web cam for hours on end. (Here’s the part where I should be even more embarrassed.) As I mentioned in a previous column, we went to Florida to see family over Thanksgiving break, and the weather was pretty bad for much of the time we were there … high winds, rain, Portuguese man o’ war taking over the ocean. Thus we had more down time than we’d expected.
So on our first rainy day in Florida, we checked the web cam link sent by Wag Hotel … we were instantly hooked. There was Pauley, running around the room wrestling and playing chase with other dogs. To our great relief, she was happy, getting tons of exercise, and most importantly, in good care.
Every day for a week, we spent at least an hour — maybe two — watching Pauley in all-day play, and we never saw one moment for concern. Attendants made sure dogs didn’t fight, they cleaned up messes immediately, and they gave lots of love. Every time we saw a new attendant enter the play area, all the dogs would rush over to greet him or her at the gate, and the attendant always gave sweet greetings back. They’d pick up the smaller dogs and carry them around, or lean over and give the big ones a hug.
Soon, we had our laptop streaming through my in-laws’ TV, and now we could watch puppy play time on the big screen! Crazy, I know, but it was really entertaining, especially after we started naming the other dogs and made them characters in our favorite show.
Oh, I forgot to mention that the Wag attendants even called us on our vacation to ask if it was OK to feed Pauley more, as she seemed to be losing a little weight due to all her exercise!
You’re probably wondering how much this all cost: $85 per day. Not cheap, by any stretch, but for this trip, it saved our sanity. And the all-day play rate by itself is $30, which gets your dog 12 hours of supervised play time, followed by three days of sleeping like a log! Priceless.
For more information, see Wag Hotel’s website at www.waghotels.com/index.cfm. Choose the “Locations/Rates” tab, then the “Sacramento” tab.
— Tanya Perez is an associate editor at The Enterprise. Her column publishes every other week on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @enterprisetanya