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Doggy daycare

Opals daycare

Opal & her friends at daycare

I have had Opal since she was 8 weeks old. I visited her since the day after she was born. She is my baby, my puppy and my best mate. Some people laugh when I say Opal goes to day care, some dog owners ask lots of questions about it and others get excited and tell me all about their dog’s day-care. It may sound like a silly concept, but I view it the same as putting your child into day-care. It is a place where your darlings can go during the day to socialise with other babies/dogs, have naps, get exercise and learn to take instructions from other carers.

I initially looked into day-care as the section Opal had at home wasn’t as big as I would like for her – she is a very energetic dog and being cooped up isn’t fair and can lead to bad behaviours (such as digging and excessive barking) driven from boredom. I talked to other dog owners I met at Day’s park – our local off-lead exercise area – about the places they sent their dogs, and I went to visit day-care’s available in Hamilton. The key things I was looking for in a day-care included:

  • A large GRASS area that dogs are free to run around and play in
  • Dogs who clearly liked and respected the carers
  • A variety of dogs, sexes, breeds, and ages to socialise with.
  • Carers that I got on with and treated dogs how I like mine treated

Doggy day-care is quite popular now and there have been a few new companies opening over the last 6-12 months in Hamilton especially. I had sent Opal to a day care for a few weeks three years ago however as I was studying it wasn’t financially viable at the time for me to continue sending her there. It just so happened when I was researching day-cares this time I contacted one that was recommended by my workmate – that runs from a property in Ngaruawahia (2minutes from my workplace) and they remembered Opal from her last day-care stint! They had changed venues and now had developed into two separate components – one for small dogs and the other for medium – large dogs.

 

Afternoon siesta at daycare

Afternoon siesta at daycare

I looked at three main day-cares in Hamilton. One was indoors and had concrete floors which turned me off it as this isn’t a natural grounding for dogs to run on all day. It had lots of wooden built structures which I also don’t think is a natural environment for dogs (although I imagine it could be quite fun!).  While talking with other dog owners at obedience classes, I came across one who was sending their dog to this particular place. He was a very active Border Collie who runs all day and sadly because of the concrete floors after his second day when he was picked up he could barely walk as his paw pads had been ripped up from the concrete. So that confirmed my choice against the indoor day-care as again Opal is a very active dog who enjoys racing around playing with other dogs for majority of the day.

The second day-care was inconvenient to drop Opal off to as it was on the other side of Hamilton. K9 Country Club – the one I was recommended by my workmate – their drop off point was next to Days park which was just around the corner from my house at the time. I organised a site visit to this day-care, met the carers, the owner and the other dogs who would be attending on one of the days I was looking at sending Opal. What I liked about this day-care was they have a minimum attendance requirement of two days a week to ensure the dogs get to know the routines and settle in with the other dogs on their days. It makes sense – it would be scary meeting 30 new dogs every week and just getting used to them after one day then having to meet a whole new 30 next week. It’s not how we make friends in the real world and it’s hard for dogs to work out their hierarchy every day with new dogs.

K9CC has a four week trial period to ensure that your dog fits in with the other dogs and the routines. Opal successfully passed this trial period and has been attending for seven months now. The owner, managers and workers are fantastic and Opal adores them. She gets very excited every time we get near the drop off point and wants to get straight in the van. I think this is an extremely good sign – if she loves it, I love it. They were also very flexible with Opal when I moved house and had to rearrange my finances. I decided during this period that Opals daycare was a priority for me as she loved it and it does wonders for her social skills and general well-being.

Another thing I love about K9CC is that they regularly put up photos and videos of the dogs playing at daycare (or in Opals case napping!) on their Facebook page so I can see what fun Opal is having on her days there. She was even lucky enough to share a doggy birthday cake when it was Navy’s birthday! Check it out and if you’re thinking about putting your dog into daycare I highly recommend K9CC, it’s definitely value for money and peace of mind in my opinion – Opal is a much happier dog for going there.

 

*Photos care of K9CC

Nap time at K9CC

Nap time at K9CC

Opal at doggy daycare

Opal posing at doggy daycare

 

Opals Doggie Day Out

Yesterday I took Opal to doggie heaven on earth – also known as Days Park in Hamilton, or Opals Wonderland.

Entrance to Days park, Hamilton

Entering Days Park, Hamilton

Opal at Days Park, Hamilton

My princess in Wonderland

Waiting to run free at Days park

Waiting to run free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Days park is an amazing area where dogs can roam off leash through a huge park filled with trees, bush walks and can even frolic in the river.
Autumn trees at Days park

Autumn trees at Days park

The rock at Days park

Opals favourite rock at Days park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
This is Opal’s FAVOURITE place and every time we start to drive down River road she gets really excited and can’t wait to race off into Wonderland. There are a variety of nice paths to walk around – the top loop takes about 20 minutes at a casual pace, there are many shortcuts down to the river side walks, and a huge drive way at the entrance that leads down to the river too. It is quite a nice place for owners to relax, with picnic tables and chairs that have been donated by families of those who have passed on and want others to enjoy the park as much as they did.
Opal in the Waikato River

Opal in the Waikato River

Dogs at Waikato River

Dogs playing in the river

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I usually take Opal here on a Sunday as it is the most time I have to just let her play and relax without being on a schedule. We always meet different people and a wide variety of dogs and puppies in Opals Wonderland. Most dogs like to play and they can chase each other for miles, or race each other to the stick in the river. It is such an amazing place, our dogs are so lucky that the council has grounds like this they can roam free and play to their hearts content.
Dogs at Days park

Making friends at days park

Days park riverside walkways

Days park riverside walkways

Sunshine at Days park

Opal enjoying the sunshine

Beautiful backdrop of Days park

Beautiful backdrop of Days park

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This is my favourite place too, it always helps me relax as I am surrounded by nature (it is a very picturesque environment) and the most loving creatures on earth (DOGS of course!). As well as being a great bonding time with Opal, I also find it takes me away from reality just watching the dogs enjoy the simple things like discovering new smells in every inch of the park, stopping to greet every dog and human they pass and getting pats galore!
The rock at Days park

Opals favourite rock at Days park

Finding new smells at Days park

Exploring new smells

Taking in the view at Days Park

Taking in the view

One of the chairs donated to Days park

One of the chairs donated to Days park

A lovely walkway at Days park

A lovely walkway at Days park

Another pathways at Days park

Another pathway at Days park

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Through the different seasons you get to see the trees in bloom, watch their leaves change colour and drop, see the river rise and fall and see what shapes it leaves behind. In the summer you also see a lot of rowing crews and water skiers enjoying the river and runners making the most of natures pathways.  Each trip here always reminds me how beautiful our country is and that we really do need to step back and (like the dogs) take the time to notice the small things that make the difference to our every day lives.

Opal: Back where it all started

My 21st birthday was coming up. My boyfriend at the time was doing a contract job for a lady who bred Samoyeds; he put two and two together and decided he would get me a puppy from her next litter as a birthday present. I got to visit the litter from the day after they were born in February. They looked like little rats, their eyes and ears were still closed and they had claws for paws.  

Week two: The puppies began to open their eyes and ears so now they resemble Guinea pigs. They were all kept in a little dog kennel with a blanket and mum would come to feed them and play with them a few times a day. They liked to sleep a lot at this stage. I had picked out the puppy I thought I would like, but as they weren’t active yet I just made a note to see what her behaviour was like later.  

Week two: puppies opening eyes and ears

Week two: Opening eyes and ears

Week two: oversized rats

Week two: oversized rats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week three:  The puppies’ fur was growing a lot by now and they had developed into cute looking animals starting to show a bit of personality. I had the opportunity to meet their grandma and dad as well, this meant I could see what my puppy might look like when she was fully grown, and see the temperament she was bred with.

Week three: puppies rolling around

Week three: puppies rolling around

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week four: The puppies were a lot bigger now, they could no longer fit comfortably in the little kennel so they were moved into mum’s big kennel with a run attached. This was in an outside paddock and they were let out daily to get some exercise with mum.

Coming to say hi

Coming to say hi

Little sisters in the big kennel

Week four: Little sisters in the big kennel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week five: This is when the puppies personalities really showed. The same pup I had chosen earlier in week two was always coming up to the edge of the kennel for a pat and giving kisses. We got to take the pups out individually and play with them. I remember there was one very shy pup who would always sit away from the fence and she didn’t want to chase around the paddock, she was quite content to sit, be patted and roll over. Opal however was a bundle of energy from the word go; she would thunder after us in the paddock and roll over for pats and constantly give kisses of appreciation. I didn’t realise at the time but this was a big tell tale sign of what was to come.

Week five: Attention seekers

Week five: Attention seekers

Puppies mum checking us out

Puppies mum checking us out

 

 

Group huddle discussing play time

Group huddle discussing play time

Puppies exploring their tails

Puppies exploring their tails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week six: This was more play time with the pups and final decision day on which pup I wanted. I chose the same one from week two, she was a joy to play with and I felt like we had made a special bond. She was easy to tell apart as she had brown spots on her belly, and a little hernia belly button (I think that’s what it’s called), which went away after a month.

Playing jump/run in the paddock

Playing jump/run in the paddock

Week six: Coming out to play

Week six: Coming out to play

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My baby with spots on her belly

My baby with spots on her belly

 

Week eight: I got to take my baby home! She had her first vaccination and was registered with the NZ Kennel club – which means she is a registered pure bred Samoyed and they can track her bloodlines back really far. She has a few champions in her great grand parents which was exciting to know! She came with some puppy food that she had been fed in the last few weeks of solids, and her vet booklet.

 

 

 

The next challenge was to think of a name…