Everything Animals: Down economy drives more dogs to day care
Dogs at play at Gulliver's Doggie Daycare.
The 'Gully Bus' on the move.
A dog relaxes in the sun.
Williston, Vermont - April 12, 2011
It's a typical weekday morning on Vermont's roads where a school bus that's anything but typical is making the rounds.
"We cover anywhere in Chittenden County," Amanda Poquette says from her seat behind the wheel of Gulliver's Doggie Daycare's 'Gully Bus,' a bright purple bus outfitted with dog crates instead of seats.
Amanda Poquette is used to these "ruff" rides because her passengers are all the four-legged friends of hard working Vermonters.
"They treat their animals like their kids and the dogs are basically their children," manager Lisa Primo says of Gulliver's clients.
Every day about 100 dogs spend their waking hours at Gulliver's Doggie Daycare in Williston, but the staff at Gulliver's says that loving owners don't consider doggie day care a luxury.
"When you ask the average dog owner, most of them will say 'I'll give up food before I give up my dog,'" Primo says.
Twelve years ago a day at Gulliver's cost $14. Today it's $16, a minimal increase that Primo says keeps people and their dogs coming back even in tough times.
Unlike most businesses which have seen a downturn during the recession, Gulliver's says the recession has actually brought them new clients and more business.
Primo says many people are working extra shifts to make ends meet and that's driving more of them toward doggie day cares.
"Because people work longer hours we introduced the bus system so those people that had to increase their shifts to maybe 12-hour shifts can still enjoy day care," she says.
The 'Gully Bus' costs $5 each way and owners can even leave their house keys with the day care staff in case they have to leave for work before the bus arrives.
In fact, Gulliver's recently bought a second bus so they can keep picking up the pooches even when the 'Gully Bus' is undergoing repairs. Primo says this is key because a growing number of people are finding they have less time to play with their dogs.
"People who bring their dogs here notice the change," she says. "They notice they have a quieter, calmer dog at home."
One business that stands as proof that while many people are still digging their way out of the recession, some have stayed ahead of the pack.