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Happy Tails gives personalized care to dogs of all sizes and breeds

Happy Tails has provided quality care to dogs both big and small for the past 15 years. Manager Sandy Miller, who remembers being the only employee when the pet-care facility opened, said Happy Tails has grown a lot over the years.

The business now has around 20 employees taking care of pets that come through their doors for boarding, daycare or grooming. During the summer, Miller said they have close to 100 dogs each day for their various services.

“It’s definitely gone as far as we can go with this space,” Miller said. She said around the holidays, they have to board dogs in the grooming areas.

Instead of moving, Miller and Happy Tails Owner Larry Stone are planning to add a pole building adjacent to the property that could house more dogs during the holidays and summer.

“This is an excellent location,” Miller said. “I would hate to move from here — you can’t beat it.”

Besides being centrally located, the location includes 12 fenced-in areas that dogs can play in during their stay.

“It doesn’t look that big from the front, but it goes all the way back to the tree line,” Miller said. “We also have a specific, dedicated small dog area. They don’t go out with the big dogs at all.”

Miller said the dogs that stay for doggy daycare or boarding are separated into play groups by age, temperament and size.

“If we have a dog like a basset hound that has a long back, we don’t want to put them out there with a dog that is going to possibly jump on them,” Miller said. “So there are certain things we really pay attention to.”

Miller said there is not much difference between the daycare and boarding, besides staying overnight. Each dog goes outside and exercises about six times a day, with the amount of time varying due to weather.

“If it’s super hot, they aren’t going to stay out there too long, especially the older or flat-faced dogs,” Miller said. “But if they are gung-ho players, we get the pools out a few times a week.”

Miller added that they ask owners beforehand if the dogs can go in the pools, and ‘pool time’ ends around 1 p.m. so all the dogs can be dry before they go home. She said the dogs usually get along and make friends as they play.

“It seems like we get puppies that come in at about the same time, and it’s like this little group that grows up together,” Miller said. “I’ve had someone tell me they recognized another dog when they ran into them on a trail.”

Miller said the employees get familiar with the dogs and their different personalities quickly, and the dogs are rarely left alone.

“One thing we have that not a lot of other places have is there is someone here overnight with them,” Miller said. “There’s only maybe two hours in the day that there isn’t someone actually in the building. So if little Fifi wants to go potty in the middle of the night, she can.”

Apart from the boarding and daycare, Happy Tails offers bathing and grooming six days a week. Happy Tails has three full-time groomers, who Miller said work just like hairstylists.

“It’s kind of funny when people come in, they do the same thing that women do at the salon,” Miller said. “Owners bring in pictures and ask to ‘make their hair look like this.’”

Miller said the groomers are knowledgeable about different styles of cuts, but talk to the owners beforehand and have books they can reference if an owner wants a specific cut for their dog.

“Call in, make an appointment, and we generally can get them in within a couple of days, up to two weeks, when they call,” Miller said. “We haven’t hit the spot yet this summer where it’s almost three weeks, but that gets to be a long time so we really work to get them in.”

Miller said she has one groomer come in every other weekend during the summer to help people get appointments over the weekend, but they stay open until 7 p.m. to help owners be able to pick up their dogs from grooming during the week. Miller added they don’t charge extra if the dogs are kept longer, and the dogs get taken outside while they wait.

Another service Happy Tails provides is nail trimming to all dogs for free, whether they are a customer or not. “We have quite a few people that walk in, get their dog’s nails trimmed and go on their way,” Miller said.

Miller said they only turn away dogs when they don’t have up-to-date vaccination records.

For more information on Happy Tails, call 573-651-1800 or visit their website, happytailscapegirardeau.com.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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