- The Washington Times - Friday, July 6, 2001

Max's eyes light up when he realizes he's getting dropped off at the "playground." It means a whole day chumming with pals. He gets even more excited if he gets to stay overnight.
Max is a 1-year-old puppy and the playground he goes to is at a special place called Dogs By Day … & Night.
Wendy Welch and her sister run the dog day care, along with Pet Essentials, a canine health-food shop on 14th Street in Northwest. Another shop, Doggy Style, is nestled in the back of the day care, offering custom hairstyling for dogs.
"Many people in D.C. leave their dogs at home all day long," Miss Welch says. "We started this to help dogs and owners have a happier relationship."
For some dog owners, paying for day care might sound ridiculous. But for an owner who misses out on daily time with the dog because of work, it has become something of a necessity.
Max's owner says she brings the little shepherd-Akita puppy to day care because she works downtown and can't watch him. "He loves it. Instead of being alone all day, he plays with dogs. When he comes home, he sleeps. When he sleeps over here, it's like a giant canine slumber party."
On any given day, Dogs By Day … & Night caters to as many as 45 of the salivating tail-waggers because it takes a less traditional approach.
"There are no cages here, day or night," Miss Welch says. "Dogs need to be with each other and with humans. Being caged puts a lot of stress on them."
In the day care's amusement-park atmosphere, dogs while away the hours running around a 2,200-square-foot indoor doggy park, fully equipped with a fountain, six skylights, colorfully painted dog murals, and a dog-toilet room containing an artificial fire hydrant.
"We set the mood with music," she says. "We play rock, Latin, heavy metal; we even do country during play time. But during nap time, it's easy listening or classical, something you can meditate with."
"At night, we watch movies and we read to them," she says. "Usually, they sit or lie down and just kind of listen. … They're almost like children."
Dog By Day … & Night charges $3 per hour up to a maximum of $36 for 24 hours. Multidog package deals are available.
Miss Welch, a self-proclaimed dog sociologist, knows some of the dogs better than their owners do. Dogs spending a lot of time in day care reveal a kind of individual personality, like children on the playground.
The dogs "have their friends, ones that are cool and ones that are not so cool," Miss Welch said.
The day care takes a flexible approach to the different canine personalities. On occasion, a dog warrants special treatment, Miss Welch says. Bella M., for example, a 2-year-old bull terrier, spends most of her time lounging on a dog sofa in the television room while the other dogs play in the indoor park.
"She is a dog that knows who she wants to play with and when she wants to play with them and why," says Miss Welch, whose sister, Linda, helps run Dogs By Day … & Night.
The day care center also caters to dogs with special needs, such as blind, deaf or amputee dogs. Happy, for example, is a blind 5-year-old cocker spaniel who finds it very comfortable.
"I've seen several times when they are playing tag," says Miss Welch. "One or two of them will bark at him to tell him where to go."

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