A dog’s life: CLE's first 24/7 doggie day care caters to both dogs and humans’ schedules

Like many folks in Northeast Ohio, Sara Scheuer and Amy Forrester do not work a typical nine-to-five workday. Scheuer is a paramedic and firefighter, working crash and rescue at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, and Forrester worked as a second-shift supervisor in manufacturing for 15 years.

The two women found they struggled with what to do with their dogs—Scheuer’s beloved dog Kirby (who passed away this year), and Forrester with her dogs Donny Bag O’Donuts and Murray Fletcher­—while working off hours.

“If you have to be somewhere at 7 p.m., there’s no place to go to drop the dogs off at 6:30,” Forrester argues. “We thought, 'There’s got to be more people like us.'” And most dog care places are closed over holidays, even though they have staff caring for dogs.

Scheuer and Forrester solved their dilemma on Monday, November 12, when they opened Stay Dog Daycare—Cleveland’s first 24-hour dog day care. Located in Gordon Square, Stay is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and dog owners can drop their dogs off to play at any time.

Stay offers a full range of services and charges in six-hour increments, up to 24 hours. Prices range from $16 for a half-day up to $40 for a 24-hour period. Forrester and Scheuer offer discounts for additional dogs—from 25 percent for a second dog up to 50 percent off for the fourth family dog.

Additionally, Stay has a two-hour drop-in rate of $9 for dogs who just want to come for a short visit. “If it’s hailing or raining, you can just drop them off for two hours,” says Forrester. “The dog can burn off energy, see his buddies, get all of his sniffs in, and go home.”

For instance, Forrester says one client came in to drop her dog off around noon last week, and informed Forrester that the entire dog playgroup that gathers at The Edison apartments would be returning at 5 p.m. so the human owners could attend happy hour while the dogs played.

Stay offers additional pup services that other day cares don’t offer. Forrester says they will take dogs that are not spayed or neutered; they are just separated from the other dogs. “We have a three-year-old un-neutered dog who comes here,” she says. “He can play with us, but he can’t play with the other dogs. We’ll accept him and care for him. We want to be as accommodating as possible.”

Case in point: Forrester points to two dogs whose owners are out of town, and the pups were a bit stressed out last week. The dogs sat at the front desk with her, acting as her “office assistants” all day. “Come here and hang out with us, and we’ll take care of you,” she promises.

Personalized extra services—such as one-on-one walks and runs or private play time—are available for purchase, as are baths, cuddle time, brain games, and photos. Forrester even makes her own dog treat and ice cream (usually frozen roasted pumpkin with peanut butter or banana).

And, Forrester adds, Stay is open over the holidays. "We had a great response on Thanksgiving from people who didn't want to lose their dogs from Wednesday to Friday, but needed them out of the house for their dinner guests," she says. "Accommodation is one of our core values."

Stay employs a staff of 16 to take care of the dogs. Forrester reports they have been hosting about 15 dogs daily but can accommodate up to 50 dogs in the 5,500-square-foot former galvanized rubber factory and tire warehouse.

Forrester and Scheuer spent six months renovating the space. “The walls were just caked with blacked-out, burnt rubber,” recalls Forrester. While they did hire professionals to help with the cleanup, she says Scheuer did a lot of the work.

Today, Stay has plenty of special canine grass with flushing and drainage to create a unique backyard environment indoors, avoiding the fluctuating Cleveland weather. The space is surrounded with white picket fences, and large play spaces are flanked by 18-foot ceilings and eight-foot windows.

“Sarah did most of the work,” Forrester says. “I was the assistant. She really cleaned this place up, and it’s so amazing. I’m beginning to lose the vision of what it used to be.”

Stay is located at 1265 W. 65th St in the Gordon Square Arts District. For more information, click here.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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