Dogs are a man’s best friend, that is until their owners have to go to work. Often times, dogs are left home alone for hours before they welcome their owners back. Michael Gould took this issue head-on and started a small business called Hounds Town USA, now a franchise, that socializes and takes care of dogs while their owners are away.
Who let the dogs out?
Gould has 40 years of experience in training and examining dogs in the NYPD Canine Unit, of which he is a founding member. He is also a retired U.S. Navy veteran and former Commanding Officer of the Nassau County Canine Unit, so it’s safe to say he’s had some exposure to dogs.
After privately training and dog sitting for clients, Gould founded Hounds Town USA, in Port Jefferson Station, Long Island in 2001. Now, another eight locations have opened in Long Island and New Jersey, and Nashville, Tennessee is the next stop for Hounds Town USA.
A “pupcation” for your pets
The “doggie daycare” offers an interactive setting for the dogs, where they are divided into play groups by size and temperament for all-day fun. According to Houndstownusa.com, this pack structure naturally helps decrease separation anxiety while building confidence and obedience. The employees don’t offer food and toys during these play sessions, this way the dogs are able to directly interact with each other. Additionally, they recognize that humans disrupt the pack structure, so employees make sure to only group, introduce, supervise and clean up after the dogs. The franchise has hosted over 700,000 furry guests in this way.
Hounds Town USA also offers grooming services, overnight boarding and a pet taxi for pickups and dropoffs from the facility. Special accommodations can be made by appointment.
However, the daycare service also recognizes that cats need a vacation sometimes, too. The same services are also included for cats, though they are kept separately from the dogs.
Jackie Bondanza, president of Hounds Town USA, said the company also celebrates pups’ birthdays, throws holiday theme “PAWties” and “PAWades,” and even offer movie time at Hounds Town Cinema. Bondanza elaborated on the delight it is to be apart of this franchise.
“Our facilities are family owned and operated, and we all work very hard to create a homey and fun environment for every dog who comes through our door – whether they are staying just for the day or for 2 weeks while their family is on vacation… The best part for me is seeing how happy all the dogs are when they come in in the morning and see our staff and all their friends. We are truly the best place for a dog to be a dog.”
In addition to their paid services, the company also takes in rescues who are awaiting their “furever home.” Teri Brogden, co-owner of the Commack Road Hounds Town USA location, said both the dogs and the employees reap the benefits of the temporary foster home care.
“We love hosting these dogs because losing their homes is stressful, so being in a pack environment helps alleviate their anxiety. It also helps to keep them social[ized] while they await finding a home. We are also often better able to assess their needs and personalities which helps us work with the rescues to get them properly homed. It is extremely rewarding!”
However, Bondanza also revealed a challenge facing the company since its start: accommodating both the pet and the owner. All staff members must be able to tend to the animals’ needs, which has to be communicated to the owner.
“When we try to humanize dogs too much, we take away their ability to be who they are: pack animals that love to interact and play with their mouth, teeth, and paws… This has been a challenge to communicate to some dog owners because they may have a different idea of what their dog’s wants and needs are. For the most part that is why our customers love us but I would say balancing the two brains – the animal brain to communicate to the dogs and the human brain to communicate to the owners – has been our challenge.”
While Hounds Town USA doesn’t currently offer a location out east, Bondanza said the company foresees itself expanding here. Until then, for those of you driving out to the Hamptons from New York City, the Hounds Town USA Commack Road location is just six minutes from the Long Island Expressway. Your dog or cat’s “purrfect” vacation awaits!