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Running a Dog Daycare Business

It's a sweet spring morning and you wake up in a spoon with the family dog. She sleeps on, profoundly content in her doggy dreams. It seems unfair to wake her so you can get up, but wake her you do. She stretches and yawns and smiles. "What a good girl," you murmur.

You sigh, stand up and start your day, thinking that the best of it may be behind you. Your job pays the bills, and that's about it. You've been at it for years and you're bored. The boss knows less than you do and earns twice your salary. Your co-workers sport friendly smiles and stab you in the back for very little gain. You routinely carry out orders that make no sense, and half the time your work is undone by fickle management. At best, you're ignored. "If only I could make a living surrounded by dogs," you grumble.

Five years later on a cold January morning, you're awakened before dawn by the telephone. You can't see outside but a frigid wind rattles the windows. Your two labs surround you, occupying most of the bed, and you have to shove them aside to get to the phone. Though barely awake, you're aware that phonecalls at this hour are never good news.

Last night you stayed at your dog daycare and grooming business long after closing to untangle the mess someone had made of the cash register tape. You're exhausted and frustrated because in the end, the tape still showed $100 more than you found in the drawer. Your employees are honest, so it's probably an overring, but you'll still have to straighten it out.

"Sorry to wake you," croaks Jake, your daycare manager. He sounds as though someone has taken a sander to his vocal cords.

"You're sick," you grumble with a guilty lack of concern.

"Yeah." Jake's reply is all but lost in a fit of coughing.

"Ok, I'll go in. Feel better." It's not much, but it's all you can muster. You make a mental note to call Jake later to see how he's doing.

The night table clock says you have 20 minutes to shower and get to work in time to open at 6:30. You grab clean jeans and a sweatshirt and head for the bathroom. Glancing out the window, you see that your car is covered in ice, shining brightly in the glow of the street light. So you rush out in your pj's to start the engine and defroster. Afterward, you're chilled to the bone, so the hot shower's a godsend. No time to linger though; you have to rush back outside to chip the partially melted ice off the car windshield.

You pull into the shop's parking lot at 6:40 and, of course, two customers wait in their cars while their dogs slobber up the windows in gleeful anticipation of another play day. You open the shop doors, apologizing profusely. The customers hand you their leashed dogs and hurry back to their cars. They're late for work too. You set about the opening routine, filling mop buckets with water and animal quarters disinfectant. No matter how often the dogs go out, indoor mistakes are inevitable.

The shop is too hot because someone jacked up the thermostat. A month ago employees prevailed upon you to trust them to consume heat responsibly, saying it's too cold in the morning. So you removed the thermostat's locked cover. While you reprogram, your already dark mood worsens at the thought of the careless waste of money. Thankfully the shop has gas heat rather than oil.

Customers arrive, mostly in bunches, so some wait impatiently while others chat. It's important to connect with them, especially as you're the owner, so you try to register what people tell you while noticing that a grooming dog and his owner wait at the other end of the building. You long for coffee.

Between bunches of arrivals, you check the fenced in outdoor potty area and find it's a skating rink. Safety is a top priority for the dogs; if a pup pulls a cruciate ligament word will get around. At 8:00am your daycare attendant arrives, explaining that she's late because her car wouldn't start and she's nervous that history will repeat itself when she tries to head home later.

You interrupt her lament to ask that she leave her coat on and start chopping up the ice in the outdoor potty area. When she sees that you're making coffee she decides to wait so she can fill her travel mug. You wonder if it would be unreasonable to bark at her to get moving. Best to hold your tongue. But one customer or another is bound to ask you to take their dog outside right away as they haven't had time and pup has just eaten her breakfast.

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