They're going to the dogs (in a good way)

Local businesses cater to the doggy day care niche and feature a variety of care styles for pets.

December 05, 2011|By Alicia Lopez
  • This is the adventure yard.
This is the adventure yard.

Though pups are often considered part of the family, it isn't always practical to take them along during the holidays.

In the Newport-Mesa area, there are plenty of options if the choice is to board. But not all boarding and doggy day cares are the same.

There are places meant only for small dogs. Some are primarily kennels or dog runs. Others are cage-free.

Bob and Merlaina O'Conner have operated a doggy day care since 1994, when they lived in Mission Viejo. But when they moved to Santa Ana Heights in 2006, they expanded to create more room for the dogs to run around in the backyard and house.

Their business, the Dog Park Inn, on Riverside Drive takes in up to 40 dogs at a time, though it's licensed for up to 59.

During the holidays, Bob said he will sometimes go over their 40-dog limit for a regular customer who begs for a space at the last minute.


He said he didn't have to worry about complaints from the neighbors — in fact, the neighbors were the reason the family moved to the street. Eleven other homes on the street offer day care or boarding for dogs. One is a dog rescue.

"If you stand outside you can tell," he said, as a chorus of barking dogs filled the air.

Merlaina said the Dog Park Inn has a few more spaces for Christmas. She starts getting calls for reservations in September.

Diane Cuniff, owner of the Bone Adventure in Costa Mesa, said she's been getting calls about the holidays since August. Her doggy day care business on Bristol Street is just about filled for Christmas, even though it charges $5 extra during the busiest days.

The Bone Adventure is cage-free. The property has a large backyard for big dogs that includes a bone-shaped pool and playground equipment — and staff to throw the ball around and keep an eye on the dogs. Cuniff said she brings in one staffer for every 10 to 15 dogs.

Cuniff said the business typically takes in a maximum of about 150 dogs.

There are two side yards for dogs that need a break from the crowd or are a bit older and slower. Another side yard is designed for small dogs that includes a porch area and play equipment.

There are also several rooms inside with beds and cushions.

"We give them a chance to come inside — if they're hyper or misbehaving," said supervisor Freddie Ramos, of Costa Mesa. "Sometimes they're just grumpy because they're overly tired, especially the older dogs."

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