It’s been about seven years since Kathy Stone left corporate America to start her own family-run canine day-care.
Kathy co-owns the Camp Bow Wow in Lawrenceville along with her husband and their two daughters. They offer personalized boarding plans and over-night solutions for families who need to leave their fur-babies behind while traveling. And parents who need their pets tired at the end of the day can rest assured they will get a full day of outdoor play and sniffs at the Lawrenceville dog camp.
“We are very much a family business. The whole family is involved, and my son-in-law is the manager,” Kathy said of their location which won Best of Gwinnett Award for 2018 as well as the 2017 People’s Choice Award.
They follow Camp Bow Wow’s corporate model, treating the dogs like young ‘campers’ at a summer retreat.
Socializing is a big component at Camp Bow Wow, and so each dog must pass an interview process to ensure they can play nice with other campers as they learn to sniff the world without mom and dad.
“We are not a breed-biased business, but we do require all the dogs over the age of six months to be neutered or spade and to behave and get along with each other. We also expect them to have their rabies, distemper and Bordetella vaccines and their flea treatment done,” Kathy said.
The Camp Bow Wow Lawrenceville experience features a stay at a log-cabin style facility with bright, regularly cleaned kennels and a highly structured routine with scheduled meal times and plenty of outdoor play time under the supervision of trusted employees referred to as “camp counselors.”
Dog owners looking for custom, overnight boarding options can choose the luxury suite where pooches can stay in their own spacious quarters and catch z’s under a colorful mural depicting a mountain-side canine camp.
Making happy campers of both pets and parents is Kathy’s daily goal. Camp Bow Wow Lawrenceville provides a portable live webcam so parents can check in on their pets as they play inside and outside with the other dogs.
“Parents really like camper cams [the live web cams], especially because we do it for everyone at no extra charge,” Kathy said.
For the dog owners’ convenience, the Lawrenceville Camp Bow Wow also uses road-style landmarks to map out the camp and help customers find where their pet is staying.
When explaining her philosophy on pet-care, Kathy likened dogs to children. Both have their own personalities, preferences, and quirks, and so she trains her staff to call each animal by name and to be attentive to all the dogs’ specific needs and pet-peeves.
“The only difference between a child with four legs and a child with two legs is that you expect your two-legged child to grow up and move out of the house. We don’t expect our four-legged children to do that.”
It took meeting the right dog for Kathy Stone to realize her calling. When her daughter Elizabeth announced she would become a vet when she grew up, there was nothing left to do but go to PetSmart and find a pup to bring home. Something clicked for Kathy when she began caring for the dog and it became part of her family.
Their family dog, Jigsaw, has since passed, but Kathy considers herself rich in grand-dogs.
To discover ‘who lets the dogs out’ at Camp Bow Wow Lawrenceville, customers need look no further than their local schools. Kathy aims to make an impact in the community by working with high school students through work study and dual enrollment programs. As ‘camp counselors’, each employee (whether high school aged or older) is required to keep watch over the camp and remain attentive to the dogs as they scamper outdoors.
“One of the things that gives me a good feeling is that, sure, the dogs have a great time here, but we are also working with people, just as much as we are to the dogs. We have made this a place where we help young people cultivate skills and learn responsibility. They have to be responsible for these dogs and the families who love them, so it’s an opportunity for them to earn important life skills,” Kathy said.
To keep the dogs in line, music is a great tool for these young counselors. Research shows that dogs enjoy music, and so Kathy provides tracks for sleeping, and the counselors plays calming tunes to help the dogs relax.
Camp Bow Wow is regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and follows strict corporate code for the cleaning of all kennels and bowls. And when administering medication, the Camp takes every precaution — only shift leaders who have been specifically trained are allowed to administer medication to the pets.
Prices for 12-hour day camp starts at $26 and overnight boarding at $46 at the doggy daycare located at 585 Old Norcross Rd. Kathy can be reached during office hours at (770)995-3500 and more information is available online via https://www.campbowwow.com/lawrenceville-ga/.