Our 2013 Autumn Canine Tour has been over for two weeks now, and I am WAY behind in writing about it…There’s a lot going on the GSA corporate campus, including a major move of the operation, so bear with me!
I want it known right up front that the business I’m about to write about has in no way compensated me for this story, and I’m writing about them only because I’ve rarely come across such a unique combination of talented people, forward thinking in dog activities, and a world-class facility! http://harborpawsandclaws.com/
I know dog care facilities with great People but less than adequate facilities. I know of great facilities with people who should be flipping burgers elsewhere. I know of good people with nice facilities that don’t involve themselves in the local dog community. It’s just a business opportunity. But the owner of Paws & Claws Boarding and Bath, Becky MacGregor, has created something special in the north woods. If this facility was located in a major city, it would quickly need to expand. Quickly.
Located on 50 wooded acres in near the northern Michigan resort town of Harbor Springs, Paws &Claws (http://harborpawsandclaws.com/) is the contemporary culmination of a dream that started small, and finally grew into something special. To me, the crown jewel of the facility is the huge 6000 sq ft Arena wing. Custom made for Agility, Scentwork, IPO practices, or most other canine fun, it could also handle a good size crowd for seminars. If any of the Trainers that spend a lot of time on the road teaching want a place to teach, and a wonderful vacation spot at the same time, you need to give Becky a call! Once word gets out, I believe that Paws & Claws is going to be on a lot of radar screens .
The arena has a unique rubberized floor that is quite kind on the dogs feet, and comfortable for the owners as well. The facility is heated quite nicely, owing to the family plumbing business. Becky’s father was a major name in plumbing and heating in the area and he overbuilt the facility needs. It even features geo-thermal energy, so the place is about as “green” as it can get. Air Conditioning? This is Northern blessed Michigan! Open the large vertical door and let the prevailing winds off nearby Lake Michigan cool down the summer for you. http://harborpawsandclaws.com/
Plumbing continues to make Paws & Claws special. The floors in the boarding suites are all heated, making any dogs stay pleasant and comfortable in even the coldest winter. Air Movement throughout the buildings was masterfully designed to keep everything fresh. Every kennel owner should have a Master Plumber for a family member!!! The Boarding Suites are also a jumping off point for something else special. The People that work for Becky.
I have never walked into such a busy kennel that smelled so NICE. Not just Clean, but pleasant. Not like a clean KENNEL, which can reek of bleach, but like a pleasant home. With a total of 26 suites, that means that the working staff is hard at work, cares about the dogs, and takes great pride in being there. During our visit, which was completely unannounced, everyone was proud for us to see their place of work. Hats off to everyone that works there…You really help define what a Dog Daycare/Boarding facility SHOULD BE!!! http://harborpawsandclaws.com/
Becky also took great effort in designing and laying out Movement for the dogs from inside to outside. Many facilities are forced to move dogs thru a maze of confusion, because of poor design. Not Paws & Claws…Everything seems to work in a circular manner that makes congestion or risk of unhappy encounters with reactive dogs, a non-issue. Outdoor arenas have real GROWING grass! (I can’t even keep grass in my 30′ by 50′ backyard with two drivey German Shepherds. Even the human element has well defined areas for work and break time, and it all flows together. Becky and her staff have a good system of communication as well when it comes to the needs of each boarder, and other important information. The walls are lined with whiteboards that are easily seen, and generally apply to the area where each hangs. Info regarding medical/drug needs, or special feeding details are easy to see. This takes the worry away from mistakes being made by poor communication.
The Grooming and Bathing suite is also quite nice, well-lit by natural light, and large enough to move about freely. One very smart innovation was made here, using metal siding on the walls instead of wallboard. Walls come clean very easily, and will continue to gleam pearly white for a long time to come, with minimal effort. http://harborpawsandclaws.com/
I have to mention a feature that I think is unique to Paws & Claws…A Dog Mass Transit shuttle to the facility from neighboring Harbor Springs. From a partnering Pet Supply shop in town, called Pet Pantry, customers are able to drop off their furkids and they are then transported in comfort to the daycare facility! A regular schedule is operated and the convenience is outstanding! Not to mention a really great graphics job on the van!
Paws & Claws gets the coveted 5 Paws rating from German Shepherd Adventures! The entire facility was well thought out from the very beginning, the employees are well-chosen and then trained, and I can’t say this enough, CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN and SPARKLING!!! Yes, it’s located in a small town in Northern Michigan, and most of you will never get to visit, but I hope that many other operators of Dog Day Care/Boarding facilities can look at the website, and see the way this type of operation should be run!!! Congratulations Becky and Staff!!! GSA can hardly wait to visit again!! http://harborpawsandclaws.com/