After their mommies and daddies drop them off, the clients of this Orange County, California, day-care center spend their day romping on the jungle gym, playing with toys, and listening to music. Those who prefer to chill out can lounge on sofas while others participate in etiquette lessons. When it's time for a potty break, the day-care denizens toddle on over to an indoor grassy area constructed specifically for this purpose and, well, go with the flow.
Not just anyone is admitted to the center, which charges $25 per day, including snacks. Like any good program, the center screens its applicants. Candidates can't bite, and they have to play well with others, be spayed or neutered and walk on all fours.
Laurie Zurborg, the 27-year-old owner of Wags & Wiggles Dog Day Care, believes that pooches in and around the California town of Rancho Santa Margarita shouldn't be leading a dog's lifesitting home all day in solitary confinement, pining for a good game of frisbee. So last August, the former veterinary technician opened the doggie day-care center, one of only 200 in the United States, according to information available from ONElist.com.
The biggest challenge, Zurborg says, has been getting potential clients to understand the service she and her three employees provide. "People think this is just a boarding facility or is a froufrou thing for the rich," Zurborg says. In fact, most clients are middle-class folks who work long hours and don't have time to exercise their pets during the week.
Zurborg and her husband, David, 39, started the business with approximately $25,000 in savings and a bank credit line. The business expanded so quickly that within a few months, they moved to the larger facility, where the center is now located, and they're looking to hire more employees and open a second location.They expect sales to exceed $100,000 in their first yearnot exactly kibble.
Wags and Wiggles Dog Day Care, (949) 635-9655, www.wagsandwiggles.com.