Opinion

Read this if you love dogs

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I love dogs. I adore them. I have almost driven off the road several times because a cute pooch walking a human caught my eye. I linger in supermarket parking lots much longer than I should (dinner can wait) to have a conversation with a total stranger’s puppy in the back seat. I have gone looking for owners who left their doggies in their vehicles on hot days, ready to call 911 if they didn’t show up in a timely manner.

Our first family dog was a pitbull we adopted from close friends who were moving from a home into an apartment which did not allow pets. I was admittedly a bit hesitant at first because of their reputation, but within hours I was in love. This little girl was ours, and she quickly integrated into our family of four. She was gentle with our children, protective but not territorial, extremely fun, and scary intelligent. She was a lover, through and through, and cuddling was her absolute specialty.

We loved her so much that we rescued another pit soon after. Anyone who has a dog understands. It seems almost insulting to refer to our furry friends as “pets,” they become so much more than that. They are biscuit-eating, ball-fetching, feet-warming, shoe-chewing, fiercely loving family members. They have been known to show more devotion than the humans in our family, quickly forgiving and forgetting our bad moods, waiting for a loving glance from us at every moment, at which time the lightning connection between the dogs’ eyes, heart, and tail is triggered and the out-of-control-wagging begins. They know when we need comfort, licking our tears away, and stay close when we’re ill, often lying so close to us and so still –- we wonder if they’ve melted into us. They wake us in the morning to go out and do their business, they get us off our butts and on long walks, mountain hikes, swims, and endless games of fetch. They keep us young and sane. They can be trained to fight crime, lead the blind, catch criminals, and service all types of people with any degree of need. They are amazing.

Yep. I love dogs. I could go on and on about this, so let me reel myself in and get to the real topic.

A few years back, I had the pleasure of meeting Russell and Cynthia Scott for the first time. The Scotts own and operate Fresh Air Dogs in Guilford, a business they created about eight years ago; one that would become “your dog’s favorite place to learn, play, and stay.” Some might call them a doggie boarding business, offering day care (play-dates) and overnights (sleepovers).

Others know Fresh Air Dogs as a training center, as they offer a variety of classes from basic obedience training to clicker training, and even therapy dog preparation.

Like me, Cynthia and Russell love dogs. So much so, they invite our beloved fur babies right into their home; no kennels, no cages – just a comfortable, wide open space with plenty of light, lots of places to sleep, and lots of love.

Outside, the grounds have multiple gated areas and activities for dogs, allowing them plenty of fresh air and exercise throughout the day. Though it may appear that all Fresh Air dogs have lots of freedom; do not be fooled, the Scotts run a tight ship. There are specific hours for drop off and pick up,for eating and sleeping, and somehow, they manage to get every dog on the same schedule. It is nothing short of amazing.

It didn’t take long before dog owners in the region heard about Fresh Air Dogs and began entrusting their pups to Russell and Cynthia, driving to the business from various parts of Maine. Others coming in from out of state and vacationing in the region also began bringing their pooches to Fresh Air Dogs during those outings where pets were not permitted. They developed a wonderful reputation with their customers, and in the first seven years of business, had only 18 total days with no dogs.

Though the Scotts have loved every busy second of this season of their lives, and every furry friend they’ve cared for along the way, there is one thing they love even more — family. Russell and Cynthia have grandbabies now, living in southern Maine – grandbabies they have fallen madly in love with and they don’t want to miss a single moment.

“We’ve built this business and we have great customers and wonderful dogs. But our hearts are with our children and grandchildren, and we want to be closer to them,” explains Cynthia. “We knew the time would come when we would have to make the transition from Russell and Cynthia, the “dog people,” to becoming full-time, close-by ‘Pap Pap’ and ‘Nana’ … best titles we’ve ever had!”

When asked what their plans were for the home and business, Cynthia explained, “The property and the business are on the market. What we want is to hand over the leash to someone who loves dogs as much as we do. We want Fresh Air Dogs to live on after we’ve gone.”

Since the home was built, the Scotts have continually improved upon it – it is beautiful inside and out. There’s even radiant heat in the 28- by 32-foot garage, which can be used for dog training or daycare. The next owner will truly be able to move in without having to do a thing. What’s more, the revenue from the business covers all expenses including the mortgage. The location is close to schools, a hospital, a local YMCA, and the Center Theatre. It is completely turn-key, including the furniture, fixtures, and equipment.

“There’s a need for this type of service here,” Russell explained, “and we have no competition, because no one offers what we offer. However, if someone is interested in the house alone, we would entertain an offer. If someone out there wants to purchase the business without the home, we would also entertain an offer. We are willing to provide transition training for the new owners, as well.”

It’s easy to see this is a bitter-sweet time for the Scotts. They have built this three-bedroom, three full-bath home and dreamed this business to life; they have watched it grow and become successful, and soon they’ll have to turn it over to someone new, someone they hope will care for it and honor it as they have.

“I see so much potential here,” Cynthia continues, “it would be amazing if a local high school purchased the business and property as a training facility for students who love dogs and would love to be dog trainers one day.”

At this point, the Scotts have a had a few nibbles on the house and business, but no sale yet. In the meantime, they would like everyone to know that Fresh Air Dogs is very much so open for business and still accepting new dogs; all a new customer has to do is fill out the ‘meet and greet’ form on the website at www.freshairdogs.com. “Most days we are full, our customers know to book early!”

There are so many reasons I wanted to post about Fresh Air Dogs, besides the fact that they love dogs as much as I do. As the chamber director, it would break my heart to see this business close. I have taken my own dogs there, and it is a fabulous resource for dog owners looking for a safe and fun place for their pooches, or human training (for themselves). It is a great business opportunity in a beautiful home, located in the most fabulous county in Maine.

If you didn’t already know about Fresh Air Dogs, I am so glad you took the time to read this .Until next time, thank you for taking a Peek into Piscataquis!

For more on Fresh Air Dogs, see them on YouTube or Facebook or call 564-2604.

Buzzelli is the executive director of the Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce. She is happily married to her husband Gregg and is the proud mother of two daughters, Angelina and Roseann.

For Buzzelli’s original Peek into Piscataquis blog, please go to http://peekintopiscataquis.bangordailynews.com/2017/07/18/home/read-this-if-you-love-dogs/.

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