24002 Via Fabricante
Ste. 402, Mission Viejo
Walking through double doors, you're greeted by a person ready to take your belongings, show you to your suite and then take you to an area where you will be treated to your choice of pampering - maybe a massage, playtime or ice cream followed up with a nap.
We know what you're thinking: "This sounds like a great place for a daycation."
Bad news: This is not for you.
Good news: It's for your four-legged furry buddy.
Forever Puppy in Mission Viejo is a small-scale doggie day camp and boarding facility. Lyn and Carlo Medina, wife/husband team and owners of Forever Puppy, created a facility where they'd want to take their own pets - seven-year-old Maltese Trish and three-year-old golden retriever Carrie.
Lyn and Carlo have kept everything they liked from the boarding and day care facilities they tried for their own pets, including cots for maximum comfort and rubber floors for traction to prevent joint injuries. They eliminated what they didn't like, such as too many dogs, cages instead of kennels, slippery concrete flooring, and dogs staying in their kennel all day.
The couple also decided on quality over quantity. This way, they are able to pay better attention and provide a more thorough care by keeping the numbers low with their staff to pup ratio of 1:10.
As dog owners themselves, Carlo says they were always worried about if their pups would get enough attention when they had to board them at the typical large facilities that housed 50 or more dogs, with only two staff members caring for them and one receptionist.
"The numbers alone showed us that we'd be more comfortable with a smaller facility, but couldn't find one," says Carlo. "This gave birth to our concept of small scale."
Forever Puppy has 10 kennel suites, their small size enables them to easily maintain their facility, keeping it smelling fresh and clean every day; as expected, cleaning up after 15-20 pups is very easy compared to 40-60.
Day camps are closely monitored to ensure all campers benefit. Lyn says some pups like to wrestle while others prefer to play fetch and some just want to lay down and get their tummy rubbed. However, they do follow a schedule of activities for the pups.
At the start of camp, the staff will make sure all dogs are properly acquainted and then they can start playing with one another. At noon there is a nap break or lunch break for pups scheduled to eat followed by a no-playing rule for an hour to avoid bloating and injuries. After the hour, it is back to the playground for the pups.
It all boils down to the amount of attention they provide the guests because pups want nothing more than human attention and they guarantee the pups will get all the attention they need while owners are away, says Carlo.
Lyn added that as much as they encourage the dogs to play with one another, they value the importance of dog and human interaction.
"In this way we can guarantee their safety, which is a top priority," says Lyn.
Since dogs can be unpredictable and it is possible that they don't get along with each other, she says, having a smaller number of dogs makes these types of situations easier to manage.
Forever Puppy also has a strict screening policy to ensure participants are ready for camp. Carlo says they complete a thorough temperament test to make sure they are socialized so they benefit from the activities; pups who are not ready for camp will be a safety concern and will not benefit. Lyn says that their golden retriever, Carrie, who is very socialized, helps them during this process.
"We observe how the dog interacts and responds to Carrie and any sign of aggressiveness is a red flag," says Lyn.
Though dogs are allowed to interact with one another at camp, the big pups and small pups are separated.
Forever Puppy aims to be as family-like as possible by showering guests with love and attention.
"Family will make sure they are safe, they are happy and they are loved," says Lyn.