In today’s world of blogging, there seems to be much more complaining about poor products and services than there is praising good products and services. I think it’s important for us to recognize great service so we can learn from it just as we do with the more commonly discussed examples of poor service. So, here is a recent experience I had.

A few months ago my wife and I went overseas for a European/Middle-eastern vacation lasting over two weeks. This meant that leading up to the trip there was a lot to plan for, which for the most part was fun. We researched a lot on the internet and we figured out what we wanted to see and experience in the different cities and countries we were going to visit. Unfortunately, there were other things we needed to consider while we were planning the trip. We had to think about not just our vacation, but who would watch our house and even our dog. We have an Old English Sheepdog (think Shaggy Dog), named LaFleur, who at the time was just 9 months old. If you’ve had a puppy, especially of a larger breed, you know they have to somehow spend a lot of energy.  LaFleur is certainly no exception. He can be a lot to handle and we knew it would be too much to ask of any of our friends to take care of him for the entire duration of our trip.

One option available to us was to let LaFleur stay at a place called Canine College where we occasionally take him for ‘daycare’. Taking him here is great because while we’re at work or busy with other plans on the weekend, he gets to play with plenty of other dogs which he loves. We love it too since it usually wears him out so much that after we pick him up he becomes very low maintenance because he’s so tired! And if our plans mean that he needs a place to stay overnight –they have boarding for the dogs as well. They get their own ‘dorm rooms’ to sleep in and everything (and no, it’s not a cage). In our experience, the people at Canine College have always been great with their customers (us) and their ‘students’ (the dogs) too.

The idea of leaving LaFleur at Canine College for two-plus weeks made us a bit nervous mostly because he had never stayed there more than 24 hours. Still, we decided to do it. When we left LaFleur there, we knew that he would have fun and be able to wear himself out every day (which meant he wouldn’t be chewing up a friend’s shoes). Still, when we dropped him off the morning before we left on our trip, it was tough. We doubted if we were doing the right thing. When we left him there, we left my parents’ names and number in case they needed to contact anyone while we were away. We hoped LaFleur would last the whole trip there and that they wouldn’t need to call my parents at all, especially since my mom isn’t much of a dog person. But if that was the case, this whole story would be far less interesting.

LaFleur at Canine College

Three days later we’re on a bus in Malta and we get a phone call from Canine College. Between the cell reception and the noise of the bus, it was difficult to hear what was being said at the other end of the line. Sure enough the call dropped… There we were in Malta enjoying our vacation and now suddenly we’re just worried. It must be bad if they’re calling us. They had my parents’ cell phone numbers. Something must really be wrong with LaFleur. Through my mom, we got back in touch with them and addressed the concern. Turns out his fur got pretty matted down and tangled which meant they had to cut some of the tangles out. We were having him brushed every two days or so to prevent this –but when he’s outside playing (especially in the snow), it can get bad fast. They were simply calling us prior to cutting his hair because he might look a little different and they wanted to make sure that was ok with us.  This would be his shortest hair cut yet. But they took care of it with our approval knowing it would be best for him to stay comfortable.

Next issue: About a week or so later, he runs out of food. Turns out he eats much more than usual when he’s so active playing with so many other dogs all day. They call my parents to bring in another bag for him. Problem solved, right? Not so fast. This bag has worms in it! They call my parents again, they come out to see the issue and pick up the bag to return it to the store and replace it with another.

A day or two later my mom gives us a pretty detailed update on LaFleur and the recent issue over the phone. At this point, my wife and I are kind of surprised that my parents seem to be so comfortable and even interested in what’s going on at Canine College. During the call my mom explains to us that while checking in on LaFleur in regard to one of these issues, they were given a tour by one of the ‘faculty’. My wife and I have been there many times and always felt pretty good about the people there and the service they provide. My mom on the other hand had never been there prior to responding to these issues while we were away. I imagine she might have even been a bit nervous going there the first time as she’s not much of a dog person to begin with. As she was telling us about the tour she and my dad had been given, she seemed to be somewhat enthusiastic. She described the facility, the ‘dorm rooms’ that the dogs slept in, the play areas and how they were divided into Freshman, JV and Varsity, how they prepared the food for the dogs and kept each dog’s food separate from the others, etc. Now I was impressed with how much she seemed to know about the place. And my parents both were clearly impressed with how friendly and professional everyone was which made us feel at ease from halfway around the world.

There were other things that Canine College did to give us peace of mind as well. For instance, they have a facebook page where occasionally they’ll post pictures of the dogs staying there and they made sure to post several of LaFleur so we could see him while we were away. On their website, they have a live webcam streaming video so after a long day of walking around and sightseeing on our trip, we could sign in to watch him play for a few minutes if we wanted to.

We even thought about it some more and in regard to that first phone call we received when LaFleur’s fur became matted, we took comfort in knowing that we would be contacted before anything ‘drastic’ was done. All of this made us feel like we definitely made the right decision having him stay there while we were away. My wife and I were able to enjoy our trip knowing we had peace of mind with LaFleur in good hands.

Canine College went above and beyond to make sure my parents and my wife and I were comfortable with everything going on at their facility. The service was truly exceptional. It was not free of course, but it was definitely worth it. And with service like this Canine College deserves to be praised and they will certainly gain many repeat customers because of it. Oh, and LaFleur enjoys it every time he’s there too. I know because that’s what his ‘report card’ says.

To learn about Canine College, go to