Blood in the Snow

Memories are a crazy thing. They can hide deep inside your brain, and then come swooping up front and center in a flash. There are days when I think we still own our Doggy Daycare, that I need to rush around at 5 am to get ready for work. Then I realize that I can just write about it at home in my pj’s and it’s almost as good. But I really miss talking with my customers. I still do but it’s rather one-sided, I just write to them each day.

Since it’s scorching hot here in Phoenix and our AC is going out, I’ll write about winter stories and try to trick my head into thinking I am comfortable and cool.  Even the pool feels like a tub of hot bath water, and there is no relief in sight. We went shopping the other day and half of the store didn’t have AC.  It’s like living in an oven 24 hours a day with the broiler turned on high for half of it!

I still cringe when I think of our first Christmas season at The Pooch. We were doing our best to keep everyone warm and dry, but a huge snowfall had dumped a foot or more of snow on Denver and the dogs loved running and rolling in the white stuff. A large Labrador Retriever named Nobu never played with anyone, he just stood alone by the far away fence inside and out. Will and the staff ran everyone outside again for their final potty time before our midday break that Christmas morning, so everyone could have a few hours with family and friends before heading back in the late afternoon.

There was a trail of red glistening blood, stark against the freshly fallen snow and everyone started asking what had happened. Had some dogs gotten into a fight that no one saw while picking up poo? That wasn’t likely at all. We screened our dogs carefully and didn’t allow any “ruff stuff” at our place. We followed the tell-tail path back to Nobu’s kennel, so surprised since he was the most comatose dog we had ever seen. He didn’t run, just sauntered. He didn’t play, just stared at the dogs like they were uncouth. He didn’t engage with the staff, just a statue locked in place. 

Will quickly found the problem, a broken toe nail, cracked right next to his cuticle.  Forget about Christmas brunch, we called home and said to hold everything, don’t stick that egg casserole that I had made the night before into the oven. Off to the emergency vet across town we went, through the falling snow that was getting deeper and deeper. There’s not a lot of snow plows out on Christmas morning, you know? A very quick but expensive visit and we are back at the kennel.  Rather than disturb all the other dogs fast asleep in their beds, we left Nobu in our office and closed the door.  This quiet dog would be fine stretched out on our sofa, he did nothing all the time.

We drove or slid home to finally have brunch with my folks and my son and his soon-to-be wife. As we walked through the door, the phone rang with a call from our security company, something had triggered the sensor at the front door, Nobu had escaped from the quiet relaxing office up front. We had to put him back in his kennel, but not before Will and I had to let out the 75 dogs staying with us, in groups of 15 at a time, per the state regulations.  By the time we picked up poo and mopped the floors, we only had an hour or so left for our long overdue brunch.

Those are the things no dog owner ever realizes that all good kennel owners do.  An owner that truly loves their business will work every holiday, even at the sacrifice of time spent with their family.  A good owner will be by the sides of their staff, shoveling snow and other things during the holidays. Whatever it takes to keep the pups happy and safe. 

Ask about that the next time you book a holiday stay.  Is the owner at home with their feet up?  Better find a new place for Fido at Christmas.




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