The Paw resort and training academy is a 27,000 sq. ft. building easily located on Premier Drive adjacent to Menards in Mankato
Contemplate this description of a popular Mankato, Minnesota facility: Daycare, rehabilitation, grooming spa, spacious suites with in-floor heat, raised beds, exercise program, pool, reservations required, therapeutic laser class treatments, post operative care, hydrotherapy, kindergarten, parties and social activities.
Leads you to think that you might be visiting a five-star resort, doesn't it? Well in a manner of speaking, you are partially correct, although this resort is exclusively frequented by dogs and cats.
The Paw is an innovative pet care concept, where its 18-person staff strives to provide its furry guests a place filled with fun and enrichment and being cared for in a nurturing, controlled environment. While at the same time offering toys, games, relaxation, companionship, food and nap time - it's a dogs life in the best manner of speaking.
Heading up the operation is Tom Yenish, who not surprisingly comes from a background of hotel management, the people-kind, at Grand Stay Hotel in Ft. Meyers, Florida. His brainpower went into the construction of the 27,000 sq. ft facility built in 2007 and a unique 44 ft. 10.5" first of its kind Schweiss Doors gate that is used to separate a 46 ft. x 96 ft. room where dogs can come inside the building for exercise in hot or cold weather and where a lot of the training is done.
The Schweiss 44 ft. lift gate allows the dogs and employees to see what's going on in the other half of the 46x96 ft. room. The Schweiss strap lift gate can open up the entire room.
In explaining the Schweiss gate, Yenish said "It's really a futuristic design." In a manner of speaking, it truly is because it is neither a hydraulic or bifold door as Schweiss Doors is famous for. Prior to having the electric operating lifting gate, two employees had a number of single piece partitions they would have to zigzag across the floor. It was time consuming and hard on the floor and if they dropped, an animal could be injured. Now a push of a button on the indoor gate lifts and lowers the door quietly in less than a minute. The employees really appreciate the gate.
"I first became acquainted with Schweiss Doors when I visited their display at the State Fair two years in a row. I had to talk them into doing this project. I had to make a picture in their mind of what we wanted. We thought about this project for quite some time. I got the Schweiss sales people at the state fair to jump on my wagon and then I talked to the design people, Brent and Jeremy, at Schweiss Doors. Until they got the vision of what we wanted, they then made it happen. They had never built a gate like this before, and maybe built it more heavy duty because safety was a huge factor," said Yenish.
As much as pet owners love their four-legged family friends, there often comes a time when it is not feasible or handy to take them with you everywhere you go, a family vacation is a good example. That's where the boarding services of The Paw come into a new level. Whether you choose a comfortable room or executive suite, your pet will enjoy its own vacation away from home. Instead of leaving your pet at home for a neighbor to check on once or twice a day, The Paw is a better option for pets who love to run and play all day and burn off extra energy.
Customer satisfaction is a key element
Dogs have a great time playing with their newfound canine friends at the outdoor turf area. An inground irrigation system helps keep the ground cool during the hot summer days.
"The paying customer wants to know that if it gets hot outside their animal can come into a cool air conditioned room. We even put in an irrigation system to keep the (artificial) turf outside cooler so the dogs don't burn their paws. We'd be liable for a dog that got too much sun or overheated," noted Yenish.
The Paw has an extensive camera system throughout the entire facility. This enables employees to see what's going on at different locations. But for the dog or cat owner it's indispensable. Say an owner is on vacation anywhere in the world, they can pull out their computer or iPhone and actually view their pet at several different locations including their kennel to see they are getting a good nights sleep. It's very comforting for families very dear to their pets, not to mention that it reassures them the pet is getting the best of care and not being neglected. Yenish said the camera system makes it possible so they don't have to take The Paws word for anything, they can get their own birds-eye view.
The day Schweiss Doors visited in early spring the facility and its animal-friendly staff were taking care of about 30 dogs that all seemed to be having a great time. You might think that could provide for some stinky situations, if you get the gist. But on the contrary, the place is spotless and odorless in every room. Yenish said the most number of dogs and cats they've had at one time was 116, but The Paw is capable of housing 250 dogs and 24 cats. Their longest continuous stay for a dog under their care was four months. A doggone lucky dog!
The Paw has a capacity to take care of 240 dogs and 24 cats. Many dogs take part in a variety of classes and activities available different days of the week.
But that's not all The Paw offers. Having a well mannered dog can greatly enhance the human-to-animal bond. The Paw offers many classes and activities that owners can choose from to further enjoy the companionship. Classes range from puppy to advance obedience and are available different days of the week. Many of our pets get somewhat shaggy over the winter and summer. You can set up an appointment to have your dog or cat check into the grooming salon for a nail trim or full service scissor cut.
He compares The Paw to bringing your child to the first day of kindergarten. At first it takes a while for the animals to adjust and that usually depends upon how old or mature the animal is. "We can't get an answer from them if we ask, 'Are you crabby today, do you want to fight with another dog, do you want to play?' Most dogs would really rather play. A confident dog is a happy dog. Within the first day they usually adjust 100 percent. The difference between a dog park and us is we offer supervision,"
A very large water cooled Astro-turf area leads out of the main building where dogs can run and play
Rehabilitation is something that is not only germain to the two-legged species. The Paw has a therapeutic program utilizing a certified veterinary technician and certified canine rehabilitation practitioner. If your canine just needs preventative injury exercise or weight loss, you may consider the underwater treadmill for safe and controlled exercise. Laser therapy offered by The Paw accelerates the animals natural healing process through photo-bio-modulation. It's effective in treating chronic and acute conditions and post-surgical pain and inflammation. Post operative care also falls into this category.
"The secret to this Schweiss product is ... it's a minute to put it up and a minute to put it down and you don't have to put it away. When we are not using it, it is in no ones way. It was fairly inexpensive. Price wise the Schweiss gate was fairly comparable to a pocket door." said Yenish.
Schweiss Doors installed all the framework, five patented liftstraps and a 2 h.p. top-mounted motor. Yenish applied a brown steel panel sheeting to the lower portion of the gate and clear unbreakable polycarbonate panels above that on the top half. He also painted the framework himself. The result was an approximate 1,500 lb. sturdy gate where the workers and even the larger dogs could peer above it to the other half of the room.
Dog training is easy with the room divided. Big dogs can be separated from small dogs and two different training sessions can be conducted at the same time.
"This is an industry that is evolving as we speak. Things had to happen. The mentality of a dog was off a farm where dogs slept outside and we might feed them a table scrap once in a while. Then the day came where city folks wanted a dog and it was in the house. Once that happened that's when our industry blossomed," explained Yenish.
The industry is well past the blossom stage. In 2011 Americans spent $3.79 billion on pet services such as boarding and grooming. Projections show the industry to grow to $4.1 billion in less than two years. In light of that, Yenish shared that they also have a very large pet supply store and distribution company just a short distance from The Paw called Pet Expo. If you can't find something there for your cat, dog, bird or fish, you'll have a hard time finding it elsewhere. They even do some animal breeding within the store. Animals are what Yenish is all about. And his business by no means isn't just 'going to the dogs!
The indoor gate serves multiple functions. By separating the room into two halves employees at The Paw can conduct different training programs on both sides at the same time. Large dogs can be separated from smaller dogs, or bad dogs from good dogs, etc.
The Schweiss lift gate in the up position. It lifts and lowers in less than a minute, once open the dogs have run of the 46'x96' room
When asked if he had the opportunity to do anything different with the gate he responded, "No I probably wouldn't change anything. It exceeded my expectations. The headache of what we used to have is gone forever. There are no legs to trip over or dividers getting in the way. There's no wasted space, we really cherish that. The gate has increased flexibility and revenue. What really tickles me, is that with my idea they (Schweiss) made it happen." And that falls exactly into the Schweiss Designer Door motto of "If You Think It - We Build It!" In this case Mike Schweiss, owner of Schweiss Doors said he was honored to help design and manufacture the first liftstrap dog gate to add another happy and satisfied customer to his list.
"In our industry you can't be in it without separated environments. You have to be able to separate your clients. Everyday separations are going to be a little different. With a push a button the gate gives us separation. It doesn't get a whole lot easier in our world than to push a button. If a whole lot of other pet resorts followed our lead they would be far ahead of the game," said Yenish. For more information on The Paw and its long list of services visit: www.thepawmankato.com or call 507-382-3043.