Dogs often stress out when their owners are away for work or travel, but in Waunakee, a new dog day care and training center with a pet resort is intended to help alleviate that anxiety – for both the pets and their parents.
A new, large Waunakee Pet Complex is under construction at 1050 Lillian Street in the business park to house Zen Dogs Center and Luna Pet Resort, where dogs of all ages and sizes will receive customized care when their owners are absent.
Lynn Wunderli, who has been a dog trainer for a number of years, conceived of starting a business in Waunakee three years ago, she said.
“I began recognizing the need in the community with all the dogs. Waunakee is a very dog friendly community. I thought, ‘let’s put a dog day care here’.”
She talked with her friend, Kori Keene, who agreed. The two share a combined total of more than three decades of professional dog training. Together they created a business plan and a presentation for investing partners. They contacted Heidi Lezotte, who rescues pets, and after they presented the idea to a developer, it began to find traction.
Zen Dog Center will be a 12,000-square-foot facility with indoor and outdoor AstroTurf yards for play with tactile and stimulatory experience, Wunderli said.
The state-of-the-art facility is designed to be “zen,” she said, “to be in balance with the least amount of disruption for the dogs when they are with us.”
It will offer dog day care and training, along with a specialized puppy training for pups as young as 10 weeks old in a separate wing of the center. This segregated area will help to protect pups from communicable disease and illnesses that more mature dogs can spread. It is psychologically and physically beneficial as well because the pups are shielded from possibly overzealous, bigger dogs.
Dogs will be separated according to size, age and lifestyle, with programs for small and large dogs.
Owners also will be able to request basic grooming, Wunderli said, adding that a community dog bathing area will be available for dog owners in Waunakee for a fee.
Dog training will be a large part of the center.
“(My company) Wunderdog, is the resident trainer of the center,” Wunderli noted. “The employees will be trained in dog psychology and proper handling through Wunderdog and The Dog Guru programs, along with the hands-on training of expert dog handler Kori Keene, myself, and two other very experienced ‘rufferees.’
“Families can participate in Zen Dogs Center’s classes and activities,” Wunderli said, noting that CPR training will be offered for pet parents.
With Octopi Brewing, a pet friendly brewery, close by, Wunderli anticipates walks with clients for what she called “yappy hour.”
All of the staff at Zen Dogs Center will also be pet-CPR trained. Keene and Wunderli plan to have seven employees on staff when the Zen Dogs Center opens in mid-September.
Luna Pet Resort will offer boarding for cats and dogs, and its founder has a long history of rescuing animals, including Piper, a tiny, 13-year-old pup who came along for the interview with the Tribune.
“I’ve been an animal advocate for my entire life,” Heidi Lezotte said. “It started off on my grandfather’s farm.”
Lezotte said she had just visited the farm and took barn boards from the walls to display at the resort.
Her idea for a pet resort began when she was unable to find a place where she was comfortable boarding her own dogs.
Nearly complete, Luna Pet Resort is a 5,000-square foot facility that Lezotte calls “boutique-y” with indoor and outdoor play parks. It is slated to open Aug. 24 with six employees, and Lezotte already has her first reservation.
The open concept allows pet owners to view the accommodations.
“You can see basically everything going on,” she said. “You’re not just dropping off your dog and the dog goes in a kennel all day.”
The resort will have no cages, no concrete and no bars. Instead, pets will find elevated, comfortable beds in suites, some with televisions, where soft music is piped in and artwork adorns the walls.
Enrichment activities will be offered, and the suites will be customized for the dogs’ size, temperament and age. Play groups will be very small, Lezotte said, and some activities for active pets will include dog jogs. Private cuddle time is also available.
Serenity suites at the resort will be designated quiet for older, ill or special needs dogs.
Cats will stay in cat condos with huge windows and a play area.
In addition to Luna Pet Resort and Zen Dogs Center, the Waunakee Pet Complex will also include Barkers Pet Food. Barkers Pet Food is owned and operated by Brie and Michael Barker of Waunakee. They have developed a complete and balanced diet for dogs by creating premium-quality raw pet food.