NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
By Alma J. Buelva
A CANINE behavior expert plans to open a unique dog training facility where the trainers will be former drug users. Second Life Academy aims to equip rehabilitated drug users with the right set of skills for basic dog training that they can use to find work later.
The training will be offered for free to ex-drug offenders.
A brainchild of Ronald Lumbao, a professional canine behavior consultant and certified dog trainer with the International Positive Dog Training Association in Canada, Second Life looks at dog training as a way for some ex-drug dependents to re-enter society and succeed in getting a second chance as dog trainers.
The plan is to have three training schools located at Albay in Bicol and somewhere in Metro Manila and North Luzon. Although no facility is up yet, Lumbao said they are now ready to screen and accept applicants to start the first batch of 20 trainees this October.
“Everything is ready except for the facility. We hope to have one fully operational by January 2018,” Lumbao said.
To qualify for the program, Second Life wants applicants who finished high school at least and with recommendation from their barangay and support from their families. Aspiring dog trainers should also pass a written exam and interview to assess if they can work well with dogs.
Each trainee must bring any breed of dog that is not more than three months old for training. Together, the student and the dog will train for 24 weeks. Lumbao said the course involves basic dog obedience training, dog psychology, housebreaking and common behavior problems, among others. The students, on the other hand, will go through theoretical and practical exercises. A certification and endorsement will be awarded to those who will complete and pass the course.
The course will also include work ethics, moral values, basic financial and business management and customer service. While in the program, the ex-drug user will benefit from the therapeutic effects of bonding with dogs, said Lumbao.
“Second Life is about training dogs and transforming former drug users into better persons...At the end of the course, the graduate is equipped with scientific training principles and the foundations for advanced training,” he added.
To ensure the dogs' safety, Second Life promises to employ only positive training system and will not use nasty choke and prong collars on the dogs.
“One of the reasons we are limiting the class to 20 people is to have close supervision...The dogs will be safe from any misuse or abuse of training tools. Trainees caught harming a dog will be expelled immediately,” said Lumbao who will conduct the training along with two other trainers.
The real challenge at the moment is finding organizations to back up Second Life's charitable cause. Lumbao has submitted proposals to companies and a local government unit but has not received a definite support yet.
“For now, we have private individuals helping us,” Lumbao said, adding that there are four ways people and companies can support Second Life's mission of giving new lease of life to past drug offenders.
To help Second Life:
* Endorse the program as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative
* Host a public seminar on Dog Life Balance
* Buy Lumbao's books (Mag Aso Ay Di Biro, Nanaginip Ba Ang Aso, and Dog-Life Balance)
To know more about Lumbao and his dog-centric undertakings and advocacies, visit traildogs.ph
By ALMA J. BUELVA
NEED a place that will take good care of your dog for a day or longer? The newly opened Playbow dog day care and boarding facility in Makati will do that and more.
Playbow at Alphaland Makati Place is a free-roaming facility where dogs can safely play, walk and run around with other sociable dogs inside a large, air-conditioned space. There are individual kennels for dogs that need to go solo, but Playbow's priority is to make a dog's stay as fun as possible so a big activity area that can accommodate 50 or more dogs is this place's main attraction.
Six female business partners—all dog lovers—own and manage Playbow. Their staff consists of experienced dog handlers and groomers plus their own personal dogs, which help guest dogs feel at home.
Playbow accepts dogs for daycare and boarding daily, starting at 8 a.m. Dog owners can also bring their dogs here for grooming any day except Monday.
DAYCARE & BOARDING
Playbow follows a strict check-in procedure starting with a thorough evaluation of a dog's health and behavior to ensure the safety of all dogs in its facility. Customers also need to provide a long checklist of information about their dogs before registration.
Playbow accepts healthy dogs from two months to 10 years old and with current vaccines against rabies, distemper, parvovirus and bordetella (kennel cough). However, female dogs in heat will not be admitted for daycare or will be separated from other dogs if they go into heat during boarding.
Among Playbow's target markets are expatriates and travelers who need a safe place to leave their dogs for a short or long period. While walk-ins are welcome, the management recommends that customers first call or visit them to learn about the range of services and applicable rates, to reserve dates and to discuss any special requirements of their dogs.
The best part starts when the dog is finally admitted for day care or boarding. Playbow keeps a daily schedule of activities that intersperse play time with meals and chew time, as well as cuddle time and potty time.
Dog owners can sign up their pets for only two hours or up to 10 hours of day care. Depending on the schedule, well-adjusted dogs can participate in group play and basic obedience training. There is also an option to walk the dog outside the building if the owner asks for it.
Playbow's dog handlers are expected to keep an eye on all dogs at all times so they could quickly respond to individual requirements and immediately clean up after them. At least one of the business partners is also usually present to give the dogs hands-on care and companionship and serve as surrogate mom during the dogs' stay. One of the partners is a dog trainer; another one is a veterinarian.
Playbow's dog boarders get a night nanny. They also get to eat their own food as Playbow encourages owners to pack enough for cold storage. If it's necessary to provide another type of dog food, Playbow would first seek the owner's consent, said Maiko Romley, one of the partners.
“Clients can bring in their own dog food, but if boarding gets extended and that food runs out, we will first get the dog owner's clearance and instructions before we give the dog something else to eat,” she added.
Playbow goes the extra mile to elevate its daycare and boarding services before, during and after a dog's stay.
Aside from the meticulous screening before admission and the sensible activities to keep dogs engaged and socialized, Playbow also prepares a report card for every dog at the end of the day. Jen Alonte, one of the partners, told MetroPets that the report card shows what activities a dog participated in, who did it play with the most or what new things it learned, for example.
“We note our observations in the report card for the owners to see. We treat dogs as family and we really emphasize socialization so we try to make the dogs friendly to each other even though they are of different breeds,” she said.
Playbow is designed to be a place where dogs are free to do what dogs love to do, which is to eat and be merry, to run and play with a pack and to plop down anywhere without care.
The entire facility is devoid of impractical items like ornate dog beds often seen in pet hotels. There is no caged dog in sight, either. Instead, one will see here lots of dogs running around chasing each other, stopping momentarily for a quick kiss, a belly rub or a photo snap. Clearly, Playbow digs dogs.
*To know more about Playbow, Inc. visit or call them at:
U-S01 2/F Alphaland Makati Place,
7232 Ayala Extension corner Malugay St.,
* Laika and Felicette, pioneer pet astronauts