By Kia O. Moore
When a Dog Dad or Dog Mom plans a trip, they also have to plan for the care of their four-legged children. When allowing someone else to take on the duties of caretaker, deep dive research has to be done about those watching your pup. When that search is done, one west side business is hoping to be at the top of the recommended list.
Enter Camp Run-A-Mutt, located at 2908 Rozzelles Ferry Rd. They take their role as doggy caretakers very seriously. The atmosphere they strive to create is one of kindness that gives the dogs the feeling they have found a home away from home. Historic West End Initiative Newsletter caught up with Camp Run-A-Mutt owner Beverly Ring to learn more about their connection to the West End, their mission, and the facility.
Ring wanted to bring the cage free dog daycare and boarding concept to the West End because she wanted to be a part of the growth happening on the west side. The comradery on the west side has been a real benefit to Camp Run-A-Mutt. Everyone has been so welcoming to the new business on the block.
Business in the West End was going well for Ring before COVID hit. The advertising plan was working and a flow of dog parents were coming in. Just opening its doors last September, they have built up a strong clientele that is getting them through this rough patch. She sees a lot of potential with being on the west side.
Before setting up shop on Rozzelles Ferry Rd., the road to making Camp Run-A-Mutt a reality was 7 years in the making. Ring’s passion for animals led her to study animal behavior. Ring explained, “I have a very anxious 9 year old dog, I have had to take my dog to a behavior specialist. I paid a lot of money per visit. So, I decided to go back and get my masters in animal behavior about 5 years ago.“ She decided to turn what she learned in the classroom into a business. She took her time to research the franchise and find the property after getting out of school.
She got into the business of taking care of other people’s dogs. “Coming to Camp Run-A-Mutt is a very personalized experience. I treat every single dog that comes in like it’s my own. I take the time to sit down and listen to the parents to learn what they need and want for their dog,” said Ring. If a dog has special needs that relates to disabilities, Camp Run-A-Mutt can handle it. Ring said she would do it for free if it weren’t for having to pay the bills.
Her passion for the dogs carries over into the other employees that devote their time to Camp Run-A-Mutt. Since the facility does not have cages like a kennel would have for dogs, the dogs are never left unattended. Even when dogs stay overnight for boarding, they sleep in a community room in beds and on couches with a caretaker present.
The goal of Camp Run-A-Mutt is to make the daycare or overnight boarding experience feel as close to home life as possible for the dogs. “If the dog is nervous when it comes through I have had to sit down in the lobby for a half hour to get the dog to trust me and do a temperament test with other dogs,” explained Ring. The focus is not to force the dogs, but to help them get acclimated to their environment.
Creating this trust with the dogs extends into creating trust with the dog parents. Ring shared insight about a client that totally distrusted dog boarding facilities until finding Camp Run-A-Mutt. “The client lost her dog at another boarding facility and vowed not to use that service again. But, she was willing to trust us.”
At Camp Run-A-Mutt keeping this trust with the animals and their owners is reflected in how they treat the dogs. They never use tools like air horns or water bottles to correct the dogs behavior. They are hands on and are always touching the dogs and interacting with them to keep them on track. This style of correcting the dogs allows for positive experiences for the doggy campers.
The facility itself also creates a positive experience. In a dog daycare without cages, dogs get to roam around the grounds with their chosen pack. They get to explore little obstacles, splash pads, and watering holes freely. “The cage free aspect is what makes us unique. Someone is always here with the dogs sitting or laying in the rooms,” shared Ring. She even welcomes them to sit on the couch with her while she is watching some Netflix. By forgoing the cages the employees have to be very attentive. Ring has even gone to the length of calling an employee in to take a dog to the emergency room in the middle of the night.
If you want to give your pup a home away from home experience while you take a trip, connect with Camp Run-A-Mutt. Due to COVID, operating hours have been changed. They no longer host Saturday daycare. They are open Monday through Friday from 6:30am to 8:00pm. They are following safety protocol with curbside pick up and drop. They are also wiping down the facility and tools on a regular basis. Visit the website at CampRunAMutt.com to learn about services and how to get your dog set up.