HOW WE STARTEDBy 2004, members of the Del Ray community had identified the building we are now in as the best location for the dog daycare. Key members of the community won the support from the landlord for the idea.
While the community set out to find someone they would trust to run their daycare, the landlord researched how to design and operate a dog daycare so he could file the required application for a Special Use Permit to open the City of Alexandria's first dog daycare.
Then there came a time when it looked like the dream might not come true. The landlord, it seemed, had become attached to the idea of creating "a profoundly positive place for dogs" and his research had given him a strong vision of what that would require.
Six potential tenant operators were presented to the landlord and 6 were rejected. The landlord, Paul Haire, gave a short explanation each time: "I wouldn't trust them with my own dog, so I won't trust them to care for the community's dogs."
The community response was simple and totally out of left field.They persuaded/challenged Paul Haire to open and run a daycare that met his own standards.
Paul Haire had a vision but he knew he wasn't an "expert." So he researched the experts and hired a bunch . . . only to find that the experts were experts in running dog daycares that were little more than places to park your dog for the day.
While Your Dog's Best Friends opened its doors in July of 2005, it was really a year later that Positive Playcare, a truly profoundly positive place, began to become a reality.
How? All the experts were fired and the team of Paul Haire and his young staff began to work at building a bonded community of dogs.
Based on experiences Paul Haire had working in porpoise training at Makapuu Oceanographic Institute, we stressed bonding positively with each individual dog as a foundation for the management of all the dogs. We reached past the daycare experts and learned from the work of ethologists and animal behaviorist.
Most of all, we listened to the dogs. We opened our eyes and our hearts and our minds and explored how to use love and care to engender respect and authority. We studied and learned their techniques for calming each other and setting behavioral boundaries.We also learned from our dogs how to facilitate the introduction of each new dog into the social fabric of this community.
Even now, we continue to listen and learn everyday.