Doggie day care

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Tonnette Carpenter of Clovis, co-owner of Waggin’ Tails, spends Yappy Hour Monday afternoon with, from left, Boomer, Puppy, Skeeter, and Murphy.

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

Seven eager, upturned faces watch impatiently as Tonnette Carpenter rips open a bag of cookies.

As the group of day care attendees clamor to be first in line for their afternoon snack, Carpenter softly reminds them “to mind their manners” and “wait their turn.”

But it’s Yappy Hour at Waggin’ Tails, Carpenter’s new doggie day care business, and her furry friends are hungry. “They (dogs) love these treats,” Carpenter said as she divided the gourmet canine cookies among her charges.

Carpenter and her daughter, Zandi Jacobs, unleashed the business four months ago.

“I’ve been researching this for five years,” Carpenter said, “and I found there was a need for doggie day care in the area.” The professional dog groomer said dog day care is ideal for canines who act out when left home alone. “Some dogs will chew up furniture or wet the carpet,” Carpenter said.

Amy Elizardo began bringing her two large mixed-breed dogs to the day care two months ago. The Clovis resident said prior to the day care opening, she was forced to kennel her pets while she worked at the Child Development Center at Cannon Air Force Base.

“I would have to come home on my lunch hour and let them out to go to the bathroom,” Elizardo said, “and I couldn’t leave them out because they would tear up the house.”

Although Elizardo’s pets, Cyrus and Jocelyn, were wary on their first day at the day care, Elizardo said the duo gets excited when they are dropped off now. “Dogs are really social animals,” she said, “so it is really important for them to have social interaction with other animals.”

At the end of the day the dogs are always worn out and ready to go home, Elizardo said. “Sometimes they even fall asleep on the way home,” she laughed.

Waggin’ Tails, which is decorated in a hot pink and black dog theme, features two outside play areas for running, shallow swimming pools for splashing and indoor cushioned beds for resting.

Day care workers also join in to help the dogs exercise and have fun.

“We play lots of games,” Carpenter said. “We play fetch, Frisbee, tug-of-war and some of the dogs swim.” Quiet time activities include soft music played on a small radio or movies. “We turn out the lights,” Carpenter said. “The dogs always start barking when we play 101 Dalmatians.”

Before a dog can be integrated into the play groups, Carpenter said they must be screened. She does this by placing the newcomer alone with Chloe, a mild-mannered Chihuahua who lives at the day care facility. If the two get along, Carpenter knows there won’t be problems. Dogs that can’t behave are kenneled.

Carpenter, who began grooming dogs 30 years ago, said her new business is a family affair with her daughter as partner, her mother answering phones and her husband doing construction.

“We’ve all gone to the dogs,” Carpenter said.