Running free in the 4,000-square-foot play area at Paradise Paws Camp & Resort, dogs were chasing tennis balls and exploring every nook and cranny.
“They’re going to be so tired, they’ll just want to sleep,” said Karen Schultz, the owner.
Just as they do every day, Schultz and her staff were playing with the animals that had been left in their care at the new doggie day care, overnight boarding and grooming business – 6,000 square feet in total – at 6538 Pedersen Crossing Blvd. in Windsor that opened earlier this fall, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 7.
“A tired dog is a happy dog,” said Schultz.
Schultz should know. A dog owner herself, Schultz has been doing dog rescue for the past seven or eight years, serving as director of a multi-state rescue for the last three and a half years. She said the organization, operated by four women including Schultz, brought up more than 3,000 rescue dogs to the area from Louisiana and Texas.
While Schultz plans to remain involved in dog rescue, she’s had to pull back to concentrate on getting Paradise Paws Camp & Resort up and running.
“I brought in a director to help with the transition,” said Schultz. “As we get settled here, I’ll become more involved again.”
For now, Paradise Paws has her undivided attention.
“We designed the building with what I’d expect to see in boarding my own dogs,” said Schultz.
Schultz has a lot of experience working with dogs. She understands different breeds and behaviors. Her staff of nine, including two dog groomers, also know dogs. Four high schoolers also help out.
“I could not have a better staff,” said Schultz. “They’re good with dogs. They’re good with people. They believe in the same things I do.”
Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, although Paradise Paws does offer Saturday daycare. Schultz said there’s a morning rush from 7:15-8:15 a.m. with people dropping off their dogs. Pick-up is usually from 4-5:30 p.m. A lot of times, the dogs will take naps between noon and 2 p.m.
The facility is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week for those boarding their animals overnight.
Schultz said the idea for such a business has always been in the back of her mind. Two years ago, the desire to get it going became very strong.
Making dogs feel comfortable and safe is the top priority. There are few add-ons to their service because of that.
“If a dog is stressed out, we’ll do whatever we can to make them feel relaxed,” said Schultz. “Everybody gets treats. If they want attention, they’re going to get it. We are here for them.”
Interestingly, Schultz said that doggie daycare can be very good for dogs with high anxiety. Part of it is staff knowing how to redirect their energy, so they’re not focused on their anxiety. Playing with a pack of dogs also helps take their minds off of it. And lastly, all the play they get at Paradise Paws tires them out.
“They go home and sleep,” said Schultz, “and they’re more pleasurable to be around.”
While at Paradise Paws, dogs are often let outside in a large, 3,000-square-foot, fenced-in play area to expend some of their energy and go to the bathroom. When it’s rainy and cold, the dogs have a large area inside to play. They play all day, said Schultz, and if they’re being boarded, they only go into a crate at night.
After hours, the doors of the play areas inside are left open, as dogs are free to wander the facility. Paradise Paws is approved for 50 dogs to board overnight. There is no chain-link fencing.
In the morning, puppies are often separated from older dogs. Schultz said they need intermittent timeouts.
“They become overstimulated,” said Schultz.
Eventually, the older dogs show the younger ones how to behave.
Schultz said they continue to learn a lot about how Paradise Paws can best accommodate dogs. She said there was a ball pit in the play area, but they got rid of it because the dogs just used it as a place to go to the bathroom. Losing the ball pit gave Paradise Paws more play area.
Construction on Paradise Paws began in July, with Keller, Inc. doing the work. Blake George of the Madison commercial real estate firm Lee & Associates helped with the search for a site. Schultz said there were looking in the area where the business eventually ended up. The location was ideal, a mile off Hwy. 51.
“Blake was instrumental in making it a reality,” said Schultz. So was Pete Read, sales and project manager for Keller, Inc. Schultz said both went above and beyond the call to bring Paradise Paws to life. Not only did George assist in finding the site, he also attended meetings with Schultz during the whole process.
While Schultz hoped for a bigger building, the cost was prohibitive. Although she said they could use more storage, the business does have another acre of land that can be used later for expansion. More space for grooming could become necessary in the future.
“Right now, we have everything we need,” said Schultz.
So far, Schultz is only marketing the business through Facebook. To schedule a date for a dog to stay at Paradise Paws, pet owners can go through its web site.
No matter what, Schultz wants to ensure their stay is an enjoyable one.
“I spoil them,” said Schultz.