Bow wow boarders


POSTED: Sunday, April 19, 2009

Inuki, a 1-year-old Shiba Inu, was so anxious about staying home alone when both her owners were at work that she would chew up books and magazines and leave a trail of teeth marks on the walls.

It was a problem, until she became a regular at doggie day care.




Gone to the dogs


        New doggie day-care businesses on Oahu

K9's & Kitty's Boarding & Daycare
46-216 Kahuhipa St. Bay 1


Aloha Doggie Daycare
        46-144 Kahuhipa St.


Di Ventus Dog Hotel & Spa
        923 Keeaumoku St.


Tails of Hawaii Mapunapuna
        686 Ahua St.


While popular on the mainland, the niche for doggie day care businesses in Hawaii is just beginning to grow as more dog owners—or dog parents—seek the service while they are away at work.

Today, dog parents have several options, whether they want a pampered-type setting for their pooches, or just a simple center where they can socialize and play—from the Windward to the Leeward side of Oahu.

In Honolulu County the number of dogs has grown steadily in the last two years, to 17,599 in 2008 from 17,436 in 2006.

A whole menu of choices now come with canine day cares, including shuttle pickup, grooming, training, overnight stays and excursions to the park and beach. Day-care rates range from $15 for a half-day to $28 for a full day, and can depend on size. Some offer live webcams and some don't.

Two new cage-free doggie day care businesses opened within a block of one another on Kahuhipa Street in Kaneohe in March.

Windward residents Gregg and Kathleen Takamori teamed up with Kathy Gunderson to open Aloha Doggie Daycare. All three were dog owners who decided there was a need for canine day care on that side of the island.

Aloha Doggie Daycare offers dogs a 5,000-square-foot, air-conditioned space with play structures, a TV and dog beds for nap time. There is a separate playpen, if necessary, for smaller dogs.

Their first client: a German shepherd named Lady.

Kiana Mohika-Miyashiro couldn't bear to leave her dog, Rusty, at home while she went to work. So after years of planning, she opened K9's & Kitty's, an open-air day care just down the block, where Rusty is an integral part of the business.

Rusty, a hefty red Rottweiler, helps keep the order in the pack with his calm and balanced demeanor. Mohika-Miyashiro's philosophy is to let all kinds of dogs, big and small, play and nap together as a pack in an indoor-outdoor space with no frills.

She takes her inspiration from Cesar Millan, star of the National Geographic Channel's “;Dog Whisperer”; show. That means skateboarding with a high-energy dog for an hour to mellow him out before putting him with the rest of the pack. It also includes helping Inuki, the Shiba Inu, direct her energy toward play and socializing.

“;It's totally dog-whisperer style here,”; said Mohika-Miyashiro. “;I don't segregate. I've got Shih Tzus with pit bulls, and we have a mastiff that comes here. My belief is that a dog is a dog and that they can all get along.”;

At Di Ventus Dog Hotel & Spa on Keeaumoku Street, it's just the opposite.

Dogs here are of the pampered kind and stay in an upscale, living room-style setting, complete with furniture and flat-screen televisions. They also can take a micro-bubble bath, specially designed for dogs with skin problems.

There is an annual $100 membership fee to join Di Ventus (waived as part of a promotion until May), plus additional charges for day care, boarding and spa services.

Owner Kosei Inoue is an experienced dog trainer as well as a dog salon owner. Part of the membership perks include one-on-one dog training.

Unlike other day cares, which typically evaluate a dog first for an initial fee, all dogs who join here are accepted, regardless of behavioral issues.

“;It's like taking your dog to kindergarten or preschool,”; said sales manager Kale Taylor.

Heather Manuel, a former flight attendant at Aloha Airlines, jumped into the doggie day care business three years ago with Tails of Hawaii Playcare & Boarding Kennel LLC.

She opened the first day care in Waipio, and in November opened a second location in Mapunapuna. Like the other day-care centers, Tails of Hawaii has half-day and full-day rates, and an hourly rate of $2.75 an hour.

Manuel now has a solid clientele base, and an average of between 30 to 40 dogs a day. Her emphasis is on creating a one-stop shop for all canine needs, whether it's day care, boarding, vet care, food, training, grooming, a pet taxi or even flight arrangements.