Tank and Nellie Go To Daycare!

Dogs during ball time!

My wife Laurie and I were huddled over our laptop in the kitchen. Our daughter Sully walked in, looked at us and asked, “What are you doing? Are you on Facebook again?”

Laurie answered, “No, no! We’re watching the dogs on the webcams at Santa Fe Tails!”

Sully crossed her arms and said, “You guys are so lame.” Then she spun and walked away.

Laurie replied, “We just wanted to make sure that Nellie isn’t taking over and Tank isn’t being bullied!”

Santa Fe Tails is our local dog day care, boarding and training academy. Tank and Nellie have been going to Santa Fe Tails since they were a year old. Not just because on the holidays we needed a place that we trusted to keep them, but truth be told, they love it there. Whenever we drop them off, they sprint through the doors and try to leap over the counter to get in. Even better, when we pick them up they again try to leap over the counter, sprint to the car and immediately fall asleep.

Santa Fe Tails is the creation of Joey and Hannah Padilla. They are both highly- credentialed dog professionals but more importantly they are crazy about dogs.

As a semi-professional columnist I want to explore and share with you, the reader, some of Joey’s and Hannah’s insights . . .

Well, that’s not exactly true. I wasn’t really thinking about you, the reader. All I really wanted was to hang out with all those happy dogs. For years after I’d drop off our dogs I’d stand at the windows and watch dogs. It was getting embarrassing, as in I imagined the staff at some point would tell me I had to leave. I figured writing a column about Santa Fe Tails would give me deep access.

And I was right!

My plot unfolded nicely. I met Joey one morning to do an “interview” and within minutes we were in the big indoor yard surrounded by a horde of milling dogs of all sizes. Joey began talking about how they evaluate dogs, but my brain was stuck on, “This is awesome!”

While he talked a big Great Dane leaned against me.

“This is Juno,” Joey said. “She’s our dog. Her job is to do all the initial evaluations. If Juno approaches a new dog, they’re in. If she turns her head or ignores them, well, then they need further evaluation from our staff.”

“Interesting,” I thought. But then I lost track when a Big Bernese Mountain dog, Lily, sat down in front of me insisting that I rub her ears. There was also a German Shepherd puppy curled up napping on one of the cots, two Basset Hounds hanging out with each other and twenty other dogs playing and following Joey’s staff members around.

This was dog heaven! Joey brought me back to reality when he said, “I’d love to hang out and do bubble time with the dogs, but I have to work in the office. . .

“Wait. What?” I said, “Bubble time?”

“Ya,” Joey replied. “We have a bubble-blowing machine. We blow bubbles in here and the dogs chase them.”

You have no idea how badly I wanted to participate in bubble time!

But as the dogs milled I noticed one dog in the corner curled in a ball, not playing, barely watching what was going on.

I asked Joey about her. “We’re working with her. In fact, my favorite dogs are the ones who don’t pass our evaluations, and we have to work with them. We get to watch them go from shy, or aggressive to normal happy dogs. She is one of those dogs that wasn’t socialized as a puppy and when she came here she was really shy. It’s a step by step process. But my advice to new dog and puppy owners is to socialize them early and a lot! It will pay off.”

A little terrier-mix bolted through my legs and I again lost my train of thought.

Right about then Joey looked at his watch and I, reluctantly, looked at mine. I clearly didn’t want to go and Joey had work to do.

I left. But as I drove home I had a brilliant business idea. Maybe I could convince Joey to charge people to come and hang out at Santa Fe Tails. He could charge by the hour! And I could get a season pass . . .

A note: After I presented my business idea to Joey, he declined. Like me, he’d rather just hang out with dogs and not have to deal with people. . .