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While owners are at work, these pets play

Boarding a pet doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience for anyone
By: Tinka Davi, Special to Gold Country News Service
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Carol Hamilton of Folsom gets teary eyed and sometimes bawls when she has to leave her girls with a sitter and she cries again when she picks them up. “You can see their eyes beginning to look sad, too.” It’s an emotional time for the family. The girls that Hamilton has a difficult time leaving are Tenaya, 4, and Katie, 5. Both are adopted and both are beautiful golden retrievers — dogs. “I still have their ‘baby’ pictures on my refrigerator,” she said. Hamilton, who used to take business trips with her husband, Steve, has left her girls with pet hotels that offer amenities such as plush beds, classical music and flat-panel TVs with pet-appropriate shows. “They thought there was a death in the family because I was so emotional when I left them and cried so hard when I picked them up,” Hamilton said. Nowadays, she hires a neighbor to care for Tenaya and Katie. Or she leaves them at PetSmart on Iron Point Road in Folsom when she has the carpets cleaned. The people at PetSmart know the dogs, er, girls, because that’s where she has them groomed. Whenever Hamilton leaves the house, she turns up the volume on her answering machine. “That way they can hear my voice when I call and talk to them,” she said. Although owners like Hamilton are pretty picky about where they leave their pets, there are places that promise pampering, tender loving care and plenty of activities. That helps prevent doggie boredom and mischievous behavior when pets are home alone. Folsom Dog Resort and Training Center provides overnight lodging and doggie day care for pets while their owners are on vacation, business trips or when they have work done in their homes. “We have comfortable indoor rooms for dogs, private areas for them to reside in,” said Jake Romero, co-owner. The facility has an outdoor play yard — a quarter acre of special synthetic turf where dogs exercise. The “guests” participate in organized play groups with activities selected by the owners and supervised by trained activity leaders. “We encourage as much exercise and activity as we can to take their pets’ minds off being left here,” Romero said. “Dogs are social animals and benefit from being with staff or other dogs.” There are individual programs for shyer dogs, too. Folsom Dog Resort’s staff develops a profile of each dog and checks if there are special needs. They keep detailed notes and provide resort reports, which include how well the dog ate. They also provide Play Report Cards. “Owners like that,” Romero said. Pets are constantly monitored during their stay. “We have 32 security cameras,” Romero said. Pet owners who work all day and are just too doggone tired to go for walks can call Lynne Proctor of Adventure Pet. Proctor does more than just walk dogs; she takes them on organized “doggie field trips.” “So many breeds need more exercise than people have time for,” said Proctor, who takes pets out for two-hour hikes. “It’s good for them to get off their property.” “People are protective about their pets, but once they get to know me, they’re OK,” she said. Proctor, who is based in Roseville, picks up pets, exercises them, offers treats and pats them down before taking them back home. She takes them to parks, open areas and Folsom Lake for a swim. “That’s really good for them,” she said. “People don’t exercise their dogs enough. I like to wear them out.” She takes as many pets at a time as she can handle, sometimes up to five. “Most dogs become really good friends,” she said. Proctor takes photos and e-mails the pictures to their owners, so they can see what their pets were doing during the field trips. Many people reply with a “thank you” and “Can I go, too?” In addition to exercise, Proctor also does pet sitting, and, like others in the Pet Adventure group, she’s licensed, bonded, insured and pet CPR and first-aid certified. PetSmart, with locations in Folsom, Roseville and Lincoln, offers overnight lodging and day care for both cats and dogs. The Iron Point Road facility has 110 rooms for pets and provides 24/7 supervision. Cats stay in single rooms in one of 14 Kitty Cottages and are given personalized TLC time by associates. The three-tiered rooms with litter boxes and sleep areas face a larger room with a television. At PetSmart’s doggie day camp pets play and socialize in playrooms that accommodate 11, 15 and 17 dogs each. Dogs that don’t get along with others must at least be people-friendly. Day camp hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour off for lunch and rest. The day care program offers fewer play hours. PetsSmart’s PetsHotel provides standard atrium rooms or private suites with televisions for really pampered pets, said a spokesperson. While pet owners may experience separation anxiety during vacations and business trips, their dogs can find plenty of activities to keep them happy and make the time go faster. And, who knows? They may enjoy returning to play times with their newfound friends, both two and four legged.