Denise Sandoval opened the door and a half-dozen eager day campers pushed around her into the yard to tumble, chase and play.
They zoomed around the yard in the hot summer sun, quickly wearing each other down before nap time. Just another busy afternoon at the Hound House's doggy day camp.
Sandoval's daily charges are mainly house dogs who otherwise don't get much chance to socialize with other pooches, like Hogan, the 9-year-old cocker spaniel who belongs to Creekside Deli owners Terri and Bart Cantua.
"He's currently an only pet and our hours are so long that, if it weren't for day camp, he'd only be able to go for a walk on a leash," Terri Cantua said.
"But when he gets to day camp, he's very social. He challenges the other dogs to play.
"When we used to just board Hogan, like for a weekend, he was so hyper when we picked him up, we'd have to give him a mild tranquilizer," Terri Cantua said. "Now after a day at day camp, he's completely worn out."
Doggy day camp was started in May by the Hound House kennel owner, Dr. Vincent Euse, who also owns Silver Hills Veterinary Hospital out front.
He said the concept differs from doggy day cares offered in Reno and elsewhere.
"The doggy day care center typically is in one large space with all the dogs sharing a single inside area all day. When a dog is tired and lays down, there's nothing to keep the others from bothering him. When it's time to eat, there can be competition for the food," Euse said.
Euse designed his day camp program to work in conjunction with his existing kennel facilities.
"Here, each dog has its own space to eat and to rest. Then they all go out to the yard together for a couple play times," he said.
Sandoval, who runs the day camp as well as manages the kennel, said the dogs are quite enthusiastic during their play times.
"We've got some play toys out here for them, balls and tug ropes, but they're more interested in playing with each other," Sandoval said. She has had as many as 14 dogs at a time playing in the 75-foot-wide yard this summer.
Sandoval, who had helped verify the effectiveness of dog training in California before coming to run the Hound House, said she checks out new day campers to make sure they can get along with the other dogs.
"I take each one on a leash to meet one of our regular dogs, one who gets along with everyone. It doesn't take long to tell if they will socialize all right," she said.
Euse said animals that have difficulty socializing can still be accommodated as day campers.
"If a dog acts mean or aggressive, obviously we're not going to endanger the other dogs. But he can still have his own kennel space and be taken outside on his own for exercise," Euse said.
Terri Cantua said she was enthusiastic when she heard of Euse's plans to set up the day camp.
"When they told us what they were planning on doing, I said, 'That's a great idea!' I know they have things like it in the Bay area," she said. "I think it's a nice addition to our community to have that option."
The basic $12.50 daily cost of the day camp covers the 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. session, individual space and play times. Special dog treats such as locally made dog cookies or a pet ice cream called "Frosty Paws" are available for an additional charge. So are baths.
"One other thing I've come up with that is unique to us is our 'latchkey' program," Euse said.
Because many people have non-traditional hours, Euse was looking for a way to allow pets to be left off early or picked up after regular hours.
He discovered a lockable steel door that he could install through the kennel's cinder block wall. He put in two, each leading to an individual kennel. The doors are secured by combination locks with changeable combinations.
"Now, if someone needs to do an early or late pickup or drop off, we set the combination to a number they pick and they can open their pet's kennel from the outside," he said.
Doggy Day Camp
The Hound House
3289 N. Carson St.