by J.B. Hyppolite
More and more dogs in the Chestnut Hill area are finding themselves “Lucky Dogz” because instead of being left alone all day while their human companions go to work, they are having lots of human and canine interaction at Lucky Dogz Daycare in Wyndmoor. Owners Elizabeth and Paul Bradley, who opened the business on Feb. 22 last year (after a three-year search for the right location), make sure the dogs entrusted to them, up to two dozen or so each day, have access to behavioral training and exercise. Overnight boarding is also available.
“I’ve already been a dog trainer, working with dogs all the time. I guess it was just the demand. People always asked me to take care of their dogs as well…” explained Elizabeth, who classifies herself as the “inventor” and “the one who comes up with ideas” while Paul handles operations and management.
“Our main component is to exercise their dogs pretty much all day long,” added Elizabeth, who made sure to mention that yes, she does feed the dogs as well. She trains the dogs on Saturdays.
What makes Lucky Dogz stand out is that the owners focus on socialization and its impact on all breeds of dogs, keeping them from reacting in negative ways towards each other and people. Elizabeth jokingly referred to this as “puppy education.”
All dogs are welcome at Lucky Dogz as long as they’re playful, healthy, able to exercise and have the ability to be happy around other dogs. The facility features 10,000 square feet of indoor space divided into four play areas and 12,000 square feet of fenced-in outdoor play area. The dogs are separated based on size and temperament. Small dogs might spend time in an agility area while larger dogs might just rest after taking a swim in the pool, weather permitting.
As with any learning process, there are always those who have a harder time than others adjusting to a new environment, “especially,” said Elizabeth, “when they’ve been under-socialized. Our philosophy is centered around freeplay. Dogs are organized into play groups based on size, temperament and energy level. This is an excellent outlet for high-energy dogs, yet timid dogs are given the opportunity to practice their social skills in a safe, monitored environment.”
One of the reasons Lucky Dogz places emphasis on exercise is that it provides social stimulation. If dogs don’t play fetch, get a walk in the park or play any other kind of game, mixed with social atmosphere, it’s difficult for them to react to dogs in a positive manner. “We’ve worked with dogs and gotten them over that hump,” said Elizabeth. “As long as the dog is reacting in a positive way, you can keep moving ahead.”
One of the biggest issues that Lucky Dogz deals with is obesity in dogs. Along with exercise techniques for dogs, Elizabeth and Paul use nutrition guides, helping owners to determine what foods and diets are best for their pets. Elizabeth has been around dogs all of her life and perhaps gets her love for helping animals from her father, who loved to rescue dogs when Elizabeth was a child. Paul grew up with cats, fish, turtles, hermit crabs, even mice and snakes. His background of operations and management in the telecommunications industry has helped in running Lucky Dogz, a start-up business.
The response to Lucky Dogz has been impressive, despite the challenges of starting a business in today’s economic climate. Many customers have complimented Lucky Dogz, saying that their dogs come home happier, tired due to exercise, and are able to adapt more to their surroundings. Elizabeth and Paul don’t view Lucky Dogz as just a job but obviously also a labor of love.
“It’s pretty neat,” said Elizabeth, “to see the dogs go home at a level of energy that’s much easier to deal with. It’s very satisfying, and every day is different. I don’t know what I’d do without this. It’s not like going to work everyday, and our stressed-out college-age employees also look forward to spending time with the dogs.”
Elizabeth and Paul graduated from Springfield Township High School and now live in Glenside. They’ve been married for 22 years and have three children: Bobby, 19, Sean, 16, and Cory, 5. Elizabeth attended Montgomery Community College and transferred to Arcadia University where she majored in Education. She then graduated from the Calfiornia-based Animal Behavior College, taking online courses and hands-on work with trainers at the Y2K9 Dog Club in Wyndmoor, and is a certified dog trainer.
Lucky Dogz is located at 7650 Queen St., Wyndmoor. For more information, visit www.luckydogzllc.com or call 267-248-3649.