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Fun on four paws is No. 1 at Doggie Daycare on Durham

New Tigard business wins many yelps of approval from clients
by: Barbara Sherman HAVING A DOGGONE GOOD TIME — Doggie Daycare on Durham owner Julie Castile (left) says goodbye to Annabelle and Claire Grayson after a day of hard play.

"Coming here gives her a chance to remember she's a dog," said Elaine Simms of King City, who has been bringing her 5-year-old Westlund terrier Lola to a new local business, Doggie Daycare on Durham.

"I was just driving by and saw the signs," Simms said. "I saw there is a social hour for small dogs, which is perfect when it's raining. I have taken Lola to Potso (dog park) and Cook Park a lot, but this is so much better.

"It's a great facility, it's clean, it doesn't stink - it's a great place for dogs to socialize. The owner Julie is really good with the dogs - it's just a great spot."

Simms said she empathizes with dogs, noting, "they do pretty well integrating themselves into our lives, so we should accommodate them."

Claire Grayson of Tigard is another satisfied customer who has been dropping off her 14-month-old dog French bulldog Annabelle for daycare.

"The only time she paws me is when we arrive, and she can't get in the door fast enough," Grayson said. "She starts playing and never even knows when I leave. It's such a comfort to me leaving her here. I used to leave her in a crate at home when I went to work and run home for 30 minutes five days a week.

"Now on Saturday and Sunday she's kind of a mess. She misses her friends. She sits by the door as if to say, 'Are we leaving yet?'"

Simms and Grayson are the type of customer Julie Castile was hoping to attract when the opened the business in September. She loves being able to provide a happy home for dogs for both daycare and boarding.

Castile is sort of an accidental dog whisperer because she didn't set out to run a doggie daycare facility.

She had planned to spend her career dealing with children's behavioral issues and prepared for that by working in the Little Tigers Preschool at Tigard High School, going to nanny school and majoring in psychology in college with a minor in art.

Health issues forced Castile to give up her dream of working with children, but she discovered that what she had learned about kids could be applied to dogs.

"I had planned to work with kids but physically can't, so this is the next best thing," Castile said. "It is fun. I had a dog for 14 years when I was growing up. I trained my dog Holly, a Havanese, to be my service dog.

"I took classes to learn how to train dogs and did a lot of work to prepare for it. The last eight months have been a crash course in dog training."

When dogs come into her facility, Castile treats them like her own.

"I play with them and talk to them, and we have lots of toys here," she said. "If the owner has special requests, like feeding the dog at a certain time, I do that. I take no more than 15 dogs at a time but keep it to 10 if there are some that need more socialization.

"Some seniors only walk their dogs and don't socialize them with other dogs, but if they have to give them up, that can be a problem.

'We supervise all the dogs, and like people, dogs need their personal space too."

Castile said that she works with the dogs under her care to teach them coping skills for issues such as fear.

"You have to learn to read the signals," she said. "Just because a dog's tail is wagging doesn't mean he's happy. Look at his ears to see what he really is thinking. Dogs are experts at body language - humans grow out of it, but dogs don't.

"For us, it's more than daycare. I think dogs deserve to live well. I hate it when people excuse their dog's bad behavior, because that means the dog is not happy. Dogs are absolutely amazing when they are treated right. If dogs can learn to regulate themselves, they will be happier."

At the doggie daycare, "we don't have a set schedule," Castile said. "The dogs know what they need. If they're not tired, they won't take a nap, but we do have dog beds if they want to sleep. Dogs know way better than people what they need and when they need it.

"You must use consistency in words and body language when you're training a dog. The more time I spend with Holly and the more I see what she can do, the more I'm amazed."

In addition to Castile's daycare and boarding business, the facility offers Connie's Canine College dog training classes and personal lessons. Connie has 30 years of experience and is a certified trainer who has rarely found a dog she cannot train.

Elyse is a high school senior who also works at the facility, helping with playing, cleaning and caring for the doggie guests, which are required to be 30 pounds or under.

Doggie Daycare on Durham, located next to Durham School, offers two inside play rooms that include a ramp and climbing area plus shock-resistant flooring; there also is a doggie door that leads to a large outside grassy area with a cover.

"It's been wonderful," Castile said. "I didn't ever think I'd be able to do something like this."

On Monday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., the facility offers a free play night.

It is located at 8104 S.W. Durham Road in Tigard.

For more information on daycare and boarding, call 503-341-6723; for more information on training with Connie, call 503-380-4579.