Owners turn to bone-afide care

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 11, 2007

PELHAM &8212; Move over Cesar Millan because there&8217;s a new dog whisperer in town.

One local business has caught onto the newest craze for dogs that&8217;s already seen success in New York, Chicago and Atlanta.

Manners in Motion, which has been at its Pelham location for more than five years now, caught onto the trend towards doggy daycare, obedience training and agility and tracking classes early on.

&8220;Ten years ago it wasn&8217;t heard of,&8221; said owner of Manners in Motion Barbara Skalka about daycare for pets. &8220;This phenomenon has come in the past eight or nine years.&8221;

Manners in Motion, the only business of its kind in the area, sits conveniently off Interstate 65 and gets a lot of business, both from professionals dropping their dogs off on their way to work and picking them up on their way home.

&8220;This is a commuter region, and we know that people are worried about traffic and getting to work on time,&8221; Skalka said. &8220;To be honest, there are people sitting here at 6:30 a.m. waiting for us to open the door.&8221;

During daycare, staff divide dogs into compatible groups based on age, level of maturity and personalities.

&8220;A lot of the dogs have made friends here,&8221; Skalka said. &8220;They&8217;ve got groups that we know who have been coming here for five years, so we know who they can get along with.&8221;

Throughout the day, which runs from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. for daycare, the dogs have access to both the inside play area and the outside yard where they can romp in several baby pools to cool off.

Similar to human daycare, the dogs get playtime followed by an hour of naptime, Skalka said. Also, owners can choose to include obedience training during daycare hours if needed or come to after-hours obedience classes.

Most importantly to some, the dogs are given time to play, socialize and exercise with constant supervision.

Emily Harris of Helena has been bringing her dogs, Molly and Abby, to Manners in Motion since it opened and thinks the exercise and socialization make her life a little easier.

&8220;Molly needed to be tired when I got home, so I could have peace and didn&8217;t have to spend the whole night throwing the tennis ball or the Frisbee,&8221; Harris said. &8220;And Abby is very, very shy and has come so far because of daycare.&8221;

Both Harris and Skalka agree that the success of Manners in Motion lends itself primarily to the attitude of the employees.

&8220;They know my dogs well enough that I couldn&8217;t just pick up and go to another daycare,&8221; Harris said.

&8220;All of us here are pet owners,&8221; Skalka said. &8220;We too sleep with them in the bed and have a lot of fun with them. They&8217;re parts of our family.&8221;

Manners in Motion also offers obedience and agility training at its Pelham location as well as tracking classes at its 19-acre Sterrett activity field. For more information on these and other classes, visit the Manners in Motion Web site, www.mannersinmotion.com