Fresh Air Dogs is the place for dogs to stay day or night

    GUILFORD — Providing a place for dogs to learn, play and stay for the day, overnight or an extended length of time, Fresh Air Dogs offers a number of services for dogs and owners alike.
    “On Jan. 1, 2010 we started this,” said Cynthia Scott, who owns Fresh Air Dogs with her husband Russell. The two, who have taught dog obedience classes since 1978, have therapy dogs and had been taking care of family and friends’ pets when needed, decided to make career changes to create a fun, safe place for dogs to come and learn, play and stay where owners could feel good about leaving their pets.

    “We have always been having friends bring their dogs, and we thought about what we could do when we retire to supplement our income,” Scott said. She said she resigned from her previous job to start Fresh Air Dogs — named after the Fresh Air Kids program in which children from New York City get to experience rural Maine as now dogs can also enjoy a “playcation” — and Russell recently retired to work full-time with his wife and the dogs.
    “I had no idea it would grow as fast as it did,” Scott said, saying she averaged about four dogs per day in the first year and then a half dozen in the second year before Russell retired to begin 2012. Later that year Carol Morin joined the staff of Fresh Air Dogs and Scott said she also brought on another employee to help with the office work.
    “We have had just nine days without any dogs in three and a half years,” Scott said, saying they are averaging about 10 dogs per day this year.
    “I am not a kennel, we are homecare,” Scott said. She said many dogs will spend the day at Fresh Air Dogs while their owners work. The “doggie day care” enables the dogs to not be left home alone and have fun playing with each other, enjoy their meals and snacks and have time to rest for however long they stay.
    Scott said she conducts a “meet and greet” with every dog before it can stay at Fresh Air Dogs. “I don’t allow or disallow based on the breed, I allow or disallow based on the dog,” she said. Scott said she has never turned away a dog that stops by for a meet and greet.
    Fresh Air Dogs accommodates all types of dog personalities as the pets are not put in any situations where they may feel uncomfortable. “There are some who really want to out here and some just want to be inside,” Scott said. “We try to do what the dog wants to do.” She said Fresh Air Dogs has plenty of room inside and outside to cater to individual needs. “We have so many lines that we have drawn that keep it safe for everyone,” Scott said as safety and security are a top priority.
    Dogs who have stayed for a full day care can be eligible to spend an overnight at Fresh Air Dogs for whatever length of time their owner needs. Scott refers to these stays as “in-home lodging” as the dogs come in and out of the house all day long as they would at their own homes, instead of being crated and caged at a kennel.
    Fresh Air Dogs is open 24/7, 365 days a year, with drop-offs and pick-ups preferred weekdays in the morning and in the afternoon. A typical day’s agenda will include play time, pack walks and snacks in the morning, a midday nap and then more playtime in the afternoon before doggie daycare pets are picked up.
    “We have them doing different things to stimulate the mind,” Scott said about the structured play time, which takes up part of the day along with free play where the dogs can do what they choose inside several gated sections of the backyard or inside if that is what the pet prefers.
    Scott said she takes the dogs on pack walks in which they can leave the fenced area and be free. The dogs are not allowed off leash without owner permission, and those allowed to run free need to be able to respond to Scott’s commands.
    Pet owners bring food from home for their dogs to eat, and the pets can also enjoy their snacks while at Fresh Air Dogs. Plenty of full water bowls are kept inside and out, and in the winter bowls are heated.
    Scott said she updates the Fresh Air Dogs Facebook page daily. “I put pictures on, I put videos on so people can see what their dogs do,” she said, adding that owners have also used Skype to communicate with their dogs. The page includes information on a number of dog-related programs as Scott said she is always working to educate owners.
    Fresh Air Dogs also provides hands-on experiences as a PCHS student has been volunteering and meeting the pets as she is considering a career as a dog groomer and a high school senior came by before she starts college to become a vet tech.
    Fresh Air Dogs is located at 251 Wharff Road in Guilford. For more information, please call 564-2604 or go to www.freshairdogs.com or on Facebook and YouTube.

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