All things pawssible

When Ann Suddarth adopted her dog Zoe from the SPCA last summer, she had no idea the trial she was in for.
    “She’s the most difficult dog I’ve ever had,” Suddarth says of the 50-pound mixed breed who’s now 18 months old. “Since she’d been at the SPCA for a long time before I brought her home,” Suddarth explains, “she suffered from terrible separation anxiety.”
    Desperate to ease Zoe’s suffering, Suddarth, who works at home, started sending her to All Things Pawssible (, a doggie daycare that opened on February 2, giving latchkey dogs— and Zoe— a lucky break.
    One or two days a week, Suddarth drops Zoe off to romp with as many as a dozen playmates. The change in her dog has been remarkable, she says.
    “Before we started going, she was like velcro-dog,” Suddarth recalls. “I couldn't leave the room without her being on my heels. It’s really helped with her not being so clingy."
    For Zoe’s improvement, Suddarth can thank Karen Quillen and Sean Julian, two dog trainers who opened the business after spending months seeking a location.
    “No one wanted to lease to us,” Quillen explains. “They’d hear dog daycare, and they’d immediately back off. We weren’t giving up, but we were getting really frustrated.”
    Finally, a stroke of luck. Real estate agent (and dog owner) Charlie Kabbash found a spot in an industrial-zoned building on Henry Avenue off Harris Street.
    With a little work, the 2,000-square-foot warehouse space was set up with overstuffed chairs, sofas, and a set of gates that allow older dogs to rest separately while youngsters cavort. A 30’ by 17’outside area offers fresh air and sunlight, though each dog is also taken for a 15- to 20-minute walk during the day.
    The daycare isn’t for every dog, however. Quillen and Julian screen all newcomers for aggressiveness, and though the dogs do establish a pecking order (Quillen and Julian’s four-year-old Yellow Lab, Sawyer, is the Alpha dog, they say), they report few problems with dogs fighting.
While there is some light training during the day (the dogs must sit and stay before receiving a Sammy’s Snack biscuit, for instance), real obedience classes are held in the evening and on weekends, because, as Quillen says, “the training is as much for the owner as for the dog.”
    The arrangement seems to be working well; though they could accommodate 20 dogs, Quillen and Julian say they will likely keep the limit at 15 so things don’t get “too crazy.”
For vacationing families, an arrangement with nearby groomer/boarder Pampered Pets allows dogs to sleep in the kennels at Pampered Pets and be picked up for a day of play before being returned that night.
At $20 per day, doggie daycare can be a pricey proposition, but Julian says most dogs don’t need to come that often. “It can be too much stimulation,” he says, recommending a couple of times a week. He says most owners are thrilled when their overactive animals come home exhausted.
Ann Suddarth, for one, says Quillen and Julian are lifesavers. “If it wasn’t for Karen and Sean,” she insists, “I might have given Zoe back to the SPCA.”