This article appears in the August issue of 400 Life.
In the five years that Abby Freeman worked for Rucker Pet, she joked and dreamed that she would one day run a doggy daycare, and that dream became a reality when Yard Mutts opened to the public in April at the former home location of Rucker Pet.
At Yard Mutts, it seems that every dog has its day ... every day. Through individualized play and positive reinforcement strategies, the dogs who take advantage of the daycare, boarding and pet pool are certainly “living their best lives.”
The staff at Yard Mutts is committed to understanding each canine client in order to learn what brings them the most enjoyment. All dogs don’t enjoy life the same way, Abby said.
“Some want to run and play all day and some want to nap more,” she said.
And the staff of Yard Mutts looks beyond the surface.
“We can’t assume a Frenchie only wants to play with small dogs,” Freeman said. “Perhaps that particular dog lives in a home with big dogs and fancies herself a big dog too. We are here to do the best thing for the dog.”
To ensure a safe environment, all potential canine clients undergo an evaluation to earn a Yard Mutts Certificate, but the staff doesn’t shy away from dogs who present behavioral or temperamental challenges.
Abby and her trainer, Jenna Reasons, are also experienced dog therapists with a mission to give back to the species that is aptly named man’s best friend.
“There’s a reason for every quirk. We want to help dogs enjoy daycare and feel safe, not just mask undesirable behaviors.” Freeman added, “I 110 percent believe that dogs are capable of empathy. They are happy when we are happy and know when we are upset. It’s such a unique and powerful gift, and it’s a privilege that these amazing creatures want to spend their time with humans.”
For dogs who need special attention, Yard Mutts offers a board and train program. Abby remembers a particularly aggressive dog who came in for evaluation. Abby recommended board and train, and “by day four, he was back to the friendly and sociable dog the owner remembered from puppyhood.”
The Yard Mutts staff plan to continue their education and certification as a positivity-based provider. Abby recently completed a week of continuing education through the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior. The positive reinforcement approach means that staff members “reinforce good behaviors and tell dogs what to do instead of focusing on what they are doing wrong,” Freeman said.
For those dogs (and humans) whose play style includes swimming, Yard Mutts boasts an above-ground pool that can be included in a dog’s daycare schedule or rented by the hour. Dogs enjoy diving and training for competitions while human clients can enjoy a cool place to hang out with all members of their family.
Abby says she found her “perfect work family” at Rucker Pet and her forever home in Forsyth County, where she raises cats, horses, donkeys, chickens, and of course, dogs.
Abby says her parents “created a monster” when they denied her request for a family pet growing up. Now, she’s making up for lost time by surrounding herself with four-legged friends and committing to their happiness.
For more information, visit Yard Mutts website here.
Article by Rebekah Taylor-Wiseman for 400 Life.