Tuesday, October 26, 2010

SpawZ: Seattle dog daycare and water therapy

A few weeks ago, I wrote about From the Heart Doggie Daycare in Laurel, Maryland. Now I want to switch way to the west coast and introduce SpawZ, a dog daycare and water therapy center in Seattle.

I have known Spawz owner Ann Marie Shields since I lived in the Northwest well over a decade ago. Ann Marie has been in the dog-care business since 1996 when she started the Doggie Bed and Biscuit in Snohomish. It was one of the first upscale, cage-free dog care businesses in the country—where canine guests enjoyed private “bedrooms” with futons and couches, private yards, and a huge pasture for running and playing. Doggie BnB provided what many dog owners want—a safe, homey, loving place for their dog to stay during the day or for extended periods of time.

Why warm-water therapy for dogs?
Armani, a rescued greyhound
In 2002, Ann Marie moved to Seattle and went to work in the human health care industry. But she continued to pet sit for a few long-time clients with older and mellow dogs. And then, in 2005, a couple of events occurred that led her to create SpawZ. First, she had knee-replacement surgery and was at home recovering for 7 months. And second, just a few weeks after her surgery, one of her greyhounds, Armani, broke his foot and ankle in 18 places.
Armani was in a full-leg cast for three months, and when the cast came off he had significant and disabling muscle atrophy. While Ann Marie was going through rigorous physical therapy and a warm-water exercise program that proved to be the keys to the recovery of her knee, Armani was struggling. It was difficult for him to walk on hard surfaces, so he had no way to regain his strength and muscle tone.
“That’s when it struck me that warm-water exercise might help him, too—and it did,” says Ann Marie. “Plus a vet suggested I try massage, so I went back to school and got my license as a Small Animal Massage Practitioner. Thanks to both water exercise and massage, Armani made an amazing recovery, just recently passing away at the age of 12.
SpawZ today
The tough economy has been a challenge for all of us, but SpawZ has been able to survive and thrive by offering multiple services for its clients. Whether a dog wants to lounge in a private room, exercise on the underwater treadmill or in the pool, enjoy a massage, play with other dogs, or cuddle with a staff member, Ann Marie has brought it all together under one roof at SpawZ. She also offers boarding and a number of special swim camp packages for her canine guests.

Television coverage
Spawz was recently featured on King 5 News, a story that is shown here, above. I asked Ann Marie how she got such great free publicity, and she said it was more luck than anything. She offers something unique, and the reporter at the station had just gotten a new puppy, and wanted to learn more. King 5 does fun segments every morning on the news show, and that is where this story ran.
Publicity like this is worth more than all the paid advertising in the world. SpawZ has been featured several times in the media, and as you can see, the stories make great entertainment and really showcase her facility.
I hope her success gives you some ideas for your doggie business!

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

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