One Day: Boyle women look after special ‘fur babies’

Published 6:38 am Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Two Boyle County women and their special crew work non-stop seven days a week, 24 hours a day caring for their clients’ “fur babies” when they’re at work or traveling out of town.

Jenna Gordon, owner of Special Care for Special Pets on Perryville Road, and her best friend, Kristen Wyatt, love to love dogs.

On hot days, Jenna Gordon keeps baby pools and water dishes filled with fresh water. Most of the time, the dogs enjoy playing with water splashing out of the hose too.

Jenna’s kennel is licensed to take up to 25 dogs for daycare and boarding, but she prefers to keep that number down around 15. “That’s my comfort zone,” she said.

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When the number of dogs increases, “Safety gets to be an issue,” Jenna says. Especially when mixing daycare dogs with the boarders that only occasionally visit overnight.

Kristen said all of the dogs have their own personalities, just like toddlers. And they have particular likes and dislikes, which the working crews need to be aware of. They even keep quick reference notecards on each dog, listing what they may be scared of, like thunder; or if they don’t mind to have their nails clipped; or if there’s a particular dog that it doesn’t like to be around. 

While dealing with all of the dogs’ personalities, ages and sizes, Jenna and Kristen stay busy keeping them entertained in separate, large fenced-in lots.

Jenna said some dogs like to lay around in the shade or cuddle with Kristen in the hammock. Others like to chase balls or splash in the baby pools, while some want to wrestle with their friends.

One by one, as dogs enter the kennel or back deck — depending on the weather — they greet each other with wagging tails and lots of barking. Jenna said rainy, muddy days are the worst to deal with. It can be challenging to keep the dogs and floors clean, she said.

As she was checking in a dog for weekend kenneling, Kristen welcomed a friendly one named Riley Joe and talked to her just as if she was a child.

When a group of dogs gathered on the deck, Jenna said, “Come on kids, let’s go,” and they all herded in behind her, ready for some play time. Jenna said they have given nearly every dog a special nickname. Riley Joe is sometimes called “Shamu” because she loves the water and is black and white, like Shamu the whale was, Jenna said.

Jenna and Kristen, and sometimes a third co-worker stay busy keeping the water bowls full of fresh water and ice cubes. They toss balls, fill pools, clip nails, give baths, clean out kennels, change sheets, fill out paperwork and invoices, mop floors, wash dishes, walls and windows and do stacks of laundry. There’s always laundry, Kristen said.

Then, they feed some of the dogs lunch, and many of them are given snacks of fresh baby carrots.

After a morning full of running and playing, the women corral the dogs into the climate-controlled kennel, where some of them are placed in runs to rest, while others hang out together and sleep on a variety of mats and even a daybed with a trundle bed.

After a couple of hours of nap time, the routine starts all over.

Jenna said she loves her business because, “You’re always laughing and smiling” at the antics of the dogs. “And there is always unconditional love from the dogs.”