While most people look forward to Fourth of July fireworks and festivities this weekend, most of their canine companions will respond very differently.
“Almost all dogs do not like fireworks,” said Daly Dog Care owner Jon Decker, who provides a safe haven for pets while owners are on vacation or away during the day. He and his employees will also be open this Friday to provide overnight dog care to those who could be traumatized by the explosions in the sky.
“Since we’re a mile south of town and pretty isolated, any dogs staying with us shouldn’t be bothered by fireworks at all. The building is well insulated, so they won’t be able to hear outside noises during the night. We anticipate the only problem we’ll have this weekend are just dogs who are missing their owners.”
Decker said his 14 kennels are reserved almost to capacity for the holiday weekend and he’s stayed plenty busy since reopening the business.
“We felt like there was a need in this community, a niche to be filled, so we reopened the business and have done very well,” he said. “We’re the only place south of Stevensville to provide three services – cageless daycare, overnight kenneling and grooming – under one roof.”
Daly Dog Care formerly operated in Corvallis on the Eastside Highway, but since Decker bought the business from his sister last year, he reopened on Fabers Way south of Hamilton where the dogs can socialize and play in 2,000 square feet that includes an inside cageless play area and an outside fenced yard.
“It’s nice owning my own business and being my own boss,” Decker said. “I can spend the profits the way I want to and expand when I’m ready. It’s been great. Busy, but great.”
In addition to his dog care business, Decker also works as a personal trainer at the Canyon’s Athletic Club in Hamilton.
“People keep suggesting that I combine my two jobs and find a way for pet owners to work out with their dogs, but I can’t quite get there yet. No one wants to do push-ups where dogs have been,” he said. “It seems like a good idea, just hard to implement.”
He has two part-time employees who help with the dogs, as well as a full-time groomer who works on-site. “Lynn is excellent. She really is very knowledgeable about breeds and dog training. She’s been showing dogs for a long time and won several awards at the Missoula Dog Show last weekend. We love having her here.”
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Decker’s website and social media sites feature photos of dogs in his care, as well as weekly messages from Archie, Decker’s boxer who is an ambassador for the business.
“Archie is 15 months old and is keeper of the store since he’s grown up here,” Decker said.
Chivahna Keating recently graduated from Darby High School and has been working part-time at Daly Dog Care for seven months. She said running a daycare for dogs is similar to running one for children.
“Once the dogs get over the separation, they play and have a good time just like kids,” she said.
She plans to study psychology in college and can’t help but notice how a dog’s emotions are parallel to an owner’s. “Some people come here frazzled and anxious and their dogs act the same way. Dogs truly respond to the people’s energy around them. When you’re scared, your dog will be scared. So here, we try to be calm and it helps them get used to being here.”
Decker agreed, “Dogs are really like their owners in so many ways. They pick up if you’re anxious or worried. So we keep that in mind when we care for other people’s pets.”
Keating said, “We get dogs of all kinds here. Some are playful and some are hyper. Some just want to watch. Some days go smoother than others that’s for sure, but there’s never a dull day.”
Decker offers full-day and half-day rates as well as discounts for regular customers. His overnight rates are reduced for multiple members of one family. He offers socialization and exercise to match a dog’s demeanor, age and health for customers who are at work, out of town or maybe just want a tired, yet happy dog at the end of the day.
“We try to make it a home away from home for them,” he said. “And as for holidays, we definitely recommend booking early.”