Archive for Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dog playground, hotel opens in Shawnee

August 31, 2006

With a park, personal playtime, a sauna, an on-call doctor and private rooms available, one new doggie daycare is more resort than kennel.

Jim and Lisa Swanson, owners of Swanson's Streamway Dog Park and Daycare, 6241 Woodland Drive in Shawnee, said when they decided to open their own business, they wanted to do something different. And the result is certainly something that can't be found anywhere else in the Kansas City area.

Jim Swanson, a veterinarian in Kansas City, Kan., said he got the idea to take dog daycare to the next level when the owners of some of his patients told him about their experiences.

"They weren't happy with the way they were being treated," he said.

Swanson said the idea of starting his own dog daycare worked because he wanted to start a business for when he retired as a veterinarian. Because he did a lot of physical rehabilitation with his canine surgical patients, he had the idea to create a dog care facility that took good care of the dogs while keeping them healthy.

The Swansons wanted to provide a dog park, an agility course, a large indoor play area and complete animal care.

"The concept was to do something no one else was doing," he said. "... The goal was we had to have the whole package or we weren't going to do it."

The Swansons began looking in western Shawnee because many of Jim's veterinary clients lived in the area, and it didn't hurt that it was growing rapidly. Then they found the property on Woodland -- with about nine acres, an existing residence for Jim and Lisa, a wooded area and a stream running through the property.

The daycare has become a family venture, with Jim and Lisa's sons, Brad and Kyle, as well as Brad's wife, Amber, all helping with the business.

Jim is on-call for emergencies and spends time at the daycare on his days off, and Lisa and another employee are both nurses. Though not veterinarians, Brad and Kyle have worked with their father since they were young and are experienced with handling and caring for various dog breeds.

Dogs are taken on two to three walks each day, and they are only allowed to play with other dogs at the owner's discretion. The daycare has two playrooms, one for large dogs and one for small, though no more than three large dogs play together at one time. Dogs are introduced to new dogs slowly, and if more than one dog is in the playroom, there is always more than one handler.

"Our main goal is to make sure that each dog is treated on an individual basis," Lisa Swanson said.

Dogs owners can bring their own blankets, food and toys, and the daycare doesn't charge extra for dogs that are on medications or have other special needs. Each dog can be fed or walked at its usual time.

"We try to keep them on their usual schedule, so they go home feeling like everything is normal and they've had a regular day," Amber Swanson said.

When not walking or playing, the facility has kennels that are six by four feet, each with a cot for the dog to sleep on. Larger 10 by four foot kennels are available for two or three dogs belonging to the same owner. And for the extremely pampered pet, two private rooms are available, which will soon be outfitted with Web cams.

For fitness, the daycare provides a water therapy room, with a doggie "hot tub" and a water treadmill. The daycare also provides regular obedience and agility training classes.

The private, fenced-in dog park will be used both by dogs staying at the daycare for their daily walks and by dog park members. The Swansons plan to charge about 50 cents a day for memberships to the park, and members will be given an electronic key-card that gives them access to the park.

Unlike public dog parks, the Swansons say that in their private park, they will be allowed to ask people to leave if their dog is misbehaving.

"It's as dog-friendly as you can get, next to your own backyard," Brad Swanson said.

To complete the "spa" aspect, the daycare has its own personal groomer, providing baths, trims and nail trimming for all dogs, not just those who stay at the kennel.

For more information, visit www.swansonstreamway.com.

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