I started dropping my girl Ruby to PawPals Daycare in October of 2017. As soon as I walked in the doors of PawPals, I picked up on the positive energy that surrounded the place. My first thought was I felt incredibly confident about leaving Ruby here for the day (especially as she glided through the gate, into the playground without even a second glance back at me, much to my devastation!). My second thought was , what an awesome place to work, surrounding yourself with puppy cuddles every day, how much better can it get right?
I had been working in the event industry for seven years and felt like it was time for a change. Working with dogs was always another passion of mine and up until this point I was unsure of how to peruse this other lifelong dream. One morning after I had dropped Ruby off for the day, I decided to pick Laura’s brain (the amazing lady behind PawPals Daycare) about different career options when it comes to working with dogs. Laura provided me with excellent guidance and also mentioned there was a vacancy on the team at PawPals. To cut the story short I enrolled in a Cert 5 Canine Behavioural Studies Course and started work at PawPals the next week. Here I was at the ripe age of 31, changing my career and ready for my days to now be filled with doggy cuddles and playtime.
I was so excited and pumped on my first morning at Pawpals, ready for a day of throwing balls, snuggling on the floor with the pooches and taking cute pictures of the pups doing cute things. Flash forward to the end of my first shift and I had made some new realisations. Yes, we do get to throw balls, but we also have to retrieve them from dogs that run away or insist on dropping them 20ft away from you. We also do get to snuggle on the floor with our gorgeous pooches but that comes after hours getting the dogs settled into their environment after morning drop off, diving to pick up poop before another dog decides to eat it, cleaning up our beloveds wee and a million and other one physical activities that revolve around keeping the dogs safe and entertained.
One of the main things I came to understand in my first week was just how hard the PawPals Gals work. From assessing each and every dog on arrival, to selecting the right starting energy, balancing out their excitement or anxiety and encouraging them into their initial group in a well-balanced manner. To us girls on the team, it is extremely important for the dogs to feel relaxed and safe, we monitor their pace throughout the day to keep them happy and maximise their learning. During the day we also work on basic activities such as group sits, gate management, name recalls and other things. This is beneficial to us as it helps the dogs gain respect for us, as well as other dogs in the group. This may also help with basic commands to help owners at home. Hygiene is also extremely important to the team. After long and busy days, the place is likely to be a bit messy. Basically everything is scrubbed at the end of each day, from the floors, to water bowls, toys and bath tub. All this must be done diligently, but in a timely manner in order for all of the evening duties to be completed.
The thing I think I misunderstood the most and that I think a lot of people misunderstand is the idea that working in the a doggy daycare is easy, that you are free to chat while working and you get to snuggle your favourites all day. The reality is actually in fact in order to ensure the safety and emotional comfort of the dogs we need to be ultra-vigilant, constantly reading each dog’s body language, managing the adrenaline levels, intervening when the more persistent dogs don’t respond to the calming signals other playmates are sending, scouring the place for potential hazards and generally maintain an alert attitude that responds to the group dynamics of the dogs.
So I hear you ask is working in a doggy day care what I thought it would be? To be honest, it’s better. Every day I feel grateful to be able to earn a living in such a wonderful way, from going home every day with enough fur on me to be able to make my own coat, not being able to go anywhere after work without a shower due to smelling like an actual dog myself, my shoes being peed on (yes, this actually happened, I started to feel a warm flow on my foot, looked down and saw a steady stream of pee lading on my foot! Still just made me laugh) and to be honest feeling the teensiest bit sad at the end of the day when the dogs parents take our besties away from us) there is honestly not one thing I would change about my new career choice.
I will be forever grateful to Laura & the PawPalsGals xx
Article written by: Aoife