Perfect Paws-itivity for your Pooch

 

Kristen Eleveld

Five years ago, if you had asked Kathy Stone what she dreamed of doing with her life, she wouldn’t have told you that she wanted to own and run a day camp for local dogs. But for the last three and a half years, that is exactly what she and her husband, Rick, have been doing.

Camp Bow Wow, which has been in business nationwide for thirteen years, is designed to give dog owners a safe and happy place to leave their dogs while they work, go on vacation, or tend to a family emergency. All breeds are welcome – large, small, and everything in between. Designated as “campers,” each pooch has the chance to run around in a large yard, play with friends, and rest in their cabins throughout the day. You may find your dog enjoying a walk down Wigglebutt Way or playing over on Medium Meadows. Each element of Camp Bow Wow is designed to give dogs the best experience of their day.

“We want to give these dogs a chance to be a dog!” said Kathy, who knows each camper by name. “Our goal is to make it as much like their home as possible.”

Indeed, it seems that every furry friend who walks through the doors is excited to return to a place they know and love. Of course, while fun is always had, safety is the camp’s first priority. Dogs are divided into groups according to their temperament and size, which keeps some of the bigger campers from inadvertently stepping on a smaller friend. Campers also need to be at least four months old to ensure that they are ready to try a new home away from home.

Camp Bow Wow is open six days a week for day camping, but every day for boarding – and some campers enjoy every single day! Most dogs only come once or twice a week, but whatever the frequency of their visits, the office staff is always waiting with open arms. An onsite, full-service groomer is available to give your pup whatever he needs.

Each staff member, or counselor, is given the opportunity to meet the dogs to help everyone decide if the counselor will be a good fit. Once they join the staff, they receive training on the best and safest ways to interact with their canine companions. Everything from reading a dog’s temperament to procedures on administering medicine is covered in their training sessions. They even become certified in doggy CPR and first aid, which, says Kathy, is a vital component of keeping the campers safe.

The campers’ safety and security are the main emphases of Camp Bow Wow. That’s why you will find their Lawrenceville location tucked away in a quiet corner, Not only does this help eliminate excess noise and distractions, but it serves as an extra level of security if a dog manages to run from an owner on the way in or out of the building.

“We feel that all the dogs at camp are like our dogs when they’re here,” said Taylor Alexander, who manages the Lawrenceville location. “Anything we can do to help our campers or their families, we will do it.”

But the campers aren’t the only ones who benefit from this top-notch facility. Kathy has recognized a need for local teens to have jobs – not just for the paycheck, but to teach them vital life skills.

“Talking to my own children’s friends, I realized that they didn’t know what they wanted to do or be when they got older,” said Kathy. “They lacked some really basic skills, the kinds of skills you could learn at a job.”

Camp Bow Wow Lawrenceville partners with a local high school to give students the chance to benefit from a work-study program. The students receive a class credit for their efforts – and, more importantly, training on how to be more self-sufficient after high school. Kathy and her manager Taylor also reach out to high-school-age youths as staff members for the camp, which they see as an opportunity to grow their own community.

“Earning money is great, but we want to prepare people to be independent and self-sufficient,” Kathy said. “You may not make this your career, but you will learn to finish what you start and why that matters.”

The community has noticed the impact of Camp Bow Wow Lawrenceville – which is probably why the facility has won the 2017 Readers Choice Award from the Gwinnett Daily Post, the Best of Gwinnett award twice, and are in the running for Best of Gwinnett for 2018 as well. You can be a part of their next win – go to https://www.guidetogwinnett.com/best-of-gwinnett/vote?profession_fname=pets-animals and select Camp Bow Wow Lawrenceville!

Kathy Stone is owner of Camp Bow Wow Lawrenceville. Taylor Alexander is manager of Camp Bow Wow Lawrenceville. More information at www.campbowwow.com/lawrenceville-ga/.

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