New Resort goes to the dogs

Photos by GRETEL DAUGHERTY/The Daily Sentinel—In the background, behind Zuni the pug, Wag Resort manager DeAnne Nelson pets Zuni’s fellow furry roommates in Tiny Town, an area devoted to small dogs at the recently opened business. Wag Resort offers boarding, day care, grooming and training services for its four-footed customers.

Dogs cluster around DeAnne Nelson at Wag Resort, where there are no chainlink fences containing the dogs.

Like most great Colorado resorts, the distinctive Wag Resort in Grand Junction caters to patrons of all stripes, from guests who boast privileged pedigrees to those who prefer their friends in low places.

All are welcome, owner Peggy Barron says.

The guests of the city’s newest, high-class boarding house all have something in common: four legs.

With 7,300 square feet to spread out, dogs enjoy the indoor comforts of home, with private rooms, comfortable beds and blankets, daily social activities and hands-on care from trained staff, including several with advanced certifications, Barron said.

Barron declined to disclose the total cost of the project, but loan assistance from First National Bank of the Rockies made the enterprise possible. Wag Resort, 398 Indian Road, was built from the ground up over the past several months. The building was constructed from original designs to realize Barron’s vision for proper dog care.

“I’m a firm believer that dogs are pack animals, who, with the proper screening and oversight, gain both physically and mentally from playing with each other. This is the basic principle on which the Wag Resort was created,” Barron said.

The layout and design of the resort reflects this ethic.

“We put our hands on the animals every day,” she said. “We work to satisfy all of their needs: social, emotional, mental and physical.”

Her philosophy evolved over 30 years of working with dogs, Barron said. Her first enterprise in Washington operated 18 years and sold about seven years ago.

A graduate of Fruita Monument High School, Barron moved back to the Grand Valley after selling her business in Washington. She waited about five years for a kennel like her former one to open in Grand Junction, but it never did. Consequently, two years ago, she started saving money and making plans for the new resort.

How it works

Handlers gather information from dog owners at check-in. They also observe the dogs and make an assessment about their ability to socialize. If socializing makes sense, guest dogs are then matched with other dogs of comparable energy levels and sociability, Barron said.

“When they go to bed, all of their needs have been satisfied,” she said.

Instead of looking at other caged dogs through chainlink during the night — a situation that keeps them constantly on guard — Wag resort guests enjoy their own private rooms.

With a staff of seven and room to grow, Wag Resort boasts 11 private rooms for senior dogs christened the White Whiskers wing.

Another section for small dogs, called Tiny Town, looks like a stable for children, with brightly-painted individual rooms, beds and swinging doors that open onto a sparkling, clean play floor.

The color scheme was chosen to maximize dog harmony, Barron said.

There are no pesky felines or chainlink fences inside the resort. Both tend to irritate the sedate stay of the guests. Wag Resort only cares for dogs, she said.

positive response

The response to the resort’s opening two weeks ago has been overwhelming, Barron said.

“It’s going very well. We’ve had great feedback, great community support. We’re way ahead of projections,” she said Friday while preparing to depart for the three-day weekend. “People seem pleased to have an all-inclusive facility.”

That means the resort provides four services for its doggy guests: boarding, day care, grooming and behavior training, services normally offered by separate businesses. Barron claims Wag Resort is the only location in the Grand Valley where all four services are available in the same location.

“We were so excited when we heard about this,” said Andy Schaeffer of Grand Junction, who was checking his animal, Merlyn, in Friday for a weekend stay. “We’ve been boarding our dog in Denver.”

Unlike some of the posher, foo-foo dog resorts in Los Angeles — places that offer mutt massages and puppy pedicures — Wag Resort rates maybe one foo at most, she said.

“You know, we’re not on the extreme of foo-foo,” Barron said. “I liken it to a country ranch resort sort of thing. We also want to fit into our community. We didn’t anyone to feel uncomfortable about bringing their dog here. We didn’t want anybody to think their dog wasn’t ‘foofy’ enough to come here.”


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