By Tommi O. Peters
For The Tribune
TRUSSVILLE — After retiring from a 25-year stint with the US Marshal’s Service, Dog Stop Owner Gail Weiss combined her experience in serving the community with her love of dogs.
“I love Trussville and dogs and there’s nothing like this in the community,” explained Weiss.
Just off the lobby of The Dog Stop is a retail store that carries holistic, grain-free, organic foods, chews and treats, as well as leashes, collars, and toys. For those that need help finding the best choice for their pets’ needs, the team at The Dog Stop is happy to help.
“I love educating owners and helping them make better decisions for their dogs to live healthier and happier lives. It truly is my passion,” shared Garcia.
The Dog Stop also partners with ‘Must Love Paws’ to showcase dogs needing foster parents. They share pictures of them on their Facebook page and allow people to visit with the dogs here if they’re considering adoption.
Each dog attending daycare or boarding is given a temperament test to determine his or her activity level and comfort level with other dogs. This allows the handlers and owners to choose the best playgroup for each dog.
A tour of the facility reveals multiple play yards with dogs actively engaged in group play with dogs of similar size and/or age. At least one handler is present in each play area at all times to ensure that dogs are never left unattended.
Weiss recalled a recent event that exemplifies the benefit, “A handler came to me to let me know that one of the dogs was limping and dragging its leg. We immediately reached out to the vet and ultimately determined that the dog was having a stroke.
The family was at the beach when the dog was boarding with The Dog Stop. Who knows what would have happened if the dog was in a place where they offered less attention. The owner stopped by with the dog recently and it was great to see that she’s recovering well.”
The overall property is approximately 9,000 square feet, 4,000 of which consists of play yards. Three of the yards are available for group play, while a fourth is reserved for dogs still working on their socialization skills.
“Just because they haven’t learned yet how to play with the other dogs doesn’t mean that they should sit in their suite all day,” explained Garcia.
Weiss added, “We’ll also do our best to find dogs and create a playgroup specifically for those dogs that might be a little more hesitant to engage with the others.”
“We hear all the time from people that feel that once their dogs start coming here, they’re just better dogs overall when they’re at home. They don’t have pent up energy where they’re jumping on people. It’s because they’re engaging their minds during the day here.”
Dogs get to play with pools, bubbles, playgrounds, and even puzzles.
The facility uses antimicrobial turf which is disinfected daily, eight-foot privacy fencing, pools that are drained daily and private plexiglass suites instead of chain link kennels that can cause anxiety.
All employees have gone through training on proper handling and behavior modification. Both Garcia and Weiss are canine CPR certified.
“A dog’s true nature is to run in a pack. This is like camp to them, so while owners are on vacation, dogs are on vacation, too. Dog parents can sit on the beach and enjoy their vacation because they don’t have to worry about if their pet is okay. And for the dog, it’s like the difference between Disneyworld and a cheap motel,” said Garcia.
She continued, “As I walked through at night to do an end-of-day check at other facilities where I worked, the dogs would be jumping and stressed and want desperately to get out. Here, I walk through and the dogs are sacked out! A tired dog is a happy dog because they’ve had a full, fun day.
For all the joy that our dogs bring us, they deserve to be celebrated, which is how we spend our day giving them a fun, good, happy time.”
Observing from the parking lot as dogs pull their dog owners through the door, it’s obvious that the four-legged citizens of the Trussville area agree.