VERPLANCK, N.Y. – Canine Kindergarten co-owner Lisa Smith doesn’t think there is one particular aspect of her company that her customers appreciate. Rather, it is the broad scope of services at the Cortlandt business that makes it a consistent winner in the Best of Westchester polls.
“I think it’s the quality of care and the range of services,’’ said Smith, who owns Canine Kindergarten with Elissa Cohen. “We have very low staff turnover. A lot of the clients have been here since the beginning, and so has a lot of the staff. I think having that familiarity with each other helps.”
The business provides day care and overnight, cage-free boarding, but that’s just the beginning. There is training, grooming and pet sitting for other animals such as cats, birds and bunnies. Customers who leave their pets with Smith’s team can also monitor activity through a webcam, which has been a standard feature since the business opened in 2005. The webcam can also be accessed through a phone app.
Canine Kindergarten has been named a Best of Westchester winner for three straight years and has earned the distinction five times since 2006.
“One thing that makes us unique is we have a certified obedience trainer that trains our staff and works with us full-time,’’ Smith said. “All of our employees take exams and have to go through a three-month training period. We do a thorough job with the training and it’s all overseen by an obedience trainer. Our staff knows about dog behavior and pack settings.”
Smith said her team is busy for the summer rush as Westchester residents head for vacations. “We get super busy at this point in the season,’’ she said. “July 4 is the biggest holiday of the year. We’ve hired extra staff for summer and even have a few former employees come back to help.”
Canine Kindergarten is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and has more than 6,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor space for dogs to play, socialize and relax. The facility is staffed 24 hours a day. Customers can drop pets off or request pickup.
Smith and Cohen honed their skills in the business world before opening their facility, and also have a Social Dog Network with similar outlets in Mount Kisco and Danbury and New Milford in Connecticut. The owners are also continually evolving their shop, such as the addition of a “games class” for dogs beginning July 9. They also provide a monthly newsletter and videos on Facebook to provide tips for owners.
“Taking proper care of pets is a big responsibility,’’ Smith said. “Some people take it lighter than others. We make sure everything is done right. Every dog that’s there, I treat as my own.”
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