Having been involved in the pit bull community for nearly seven years, I’ve heard over and over again how pit bulls are denied the pleasures of attending dog daycare. Most are never even met by the daycare operators, but turned away on the phone with excuses like, “they’re too vicious” or “too unpredictable.” There were some daycares that welcomed pit bulls, but limited the number that could attend on any given day. I suppose that given the hype surrounding these dogs, it’s not surprising to hear these reactions.
When I opened my dog daycare in January 2010, it never occurred to me to limit who could join in on the fun. I obviously had the same criteria as other daycares: the dog must be social with dogs, with no aggression towards people. Given my earliest clientele and existing client base, it became clear that I was going to “specialize” in large breed dogs, although my doors are always open to everyone willing to give it a try. Louis the French Bulldog, and Joey and Dexter the Boston Terriers can easily keep up with the “big boys” and come regularly!
As a small business owner, I did have one small concern: how would my non-pit bull clients feel about their dogs playing with a group of pit bulls for hours? Many tend to rely on what they hear in the media and – lets face it – when it comes to these dogs, it’s rarely positive. I figured it was a chance worth taking, and if it meant my only clients were pit bulls, then so be it.
It’s been a year since the daycare opened. I have a wonderful clientele of all breeds of dogs: Charlie the Labradoodle, Bogey the Great Dane, Gus the boxer mix, Louis, Dexter and Joey – and many, many pit bulls.
I’m often asked if it’s challenging having a daycare full of “those dogs”. Not surprising I suppose, especially since the breed is often known for their dog aggression. My answer is simply, “no.” Maybe because I have nothing to compare it to, or perhaps I’m just realistic about my expectations. I know enough about pit bulls to know that the company of other dogs is usually not their first choice; therefore I have lots of areas for downtime. I realize they require supervision at all times when playing with other dogs, and I also understand the need for clear direction and boundaries so that their play experience is always a positive one.
I am happy and honoured to share my daycare space with pit bulls of all shapes and sizes. All dogs – and all breeds – that come through my doors bring me days of endless joy, laughter, and most of all a learning experience like none other.