It is just like any kindergarten for kids.
A place for playing and learning, a chance to build social skills and a guarantee of safety and well-being while their main caretakers are away. Except for the sound of dogs barking in unison.
Birthday parties are among typical events "puppy kindergartens" provide. (Happy Puppy)
Happy Puppy in Seoul’s Nonhyeon-dong is one of the many “dog kindergartens” that have popped up in Seoul in recent years. When this reporter visited, about 25 furry friends were there.
“If they hadn’t come, they would have stayed at home alone until evening, spending most of the time sleeping and idling, sometimes causing trouble out of boredom. When their owners return home in the evening, they would be eager to play, being full of energy, while their owners are most likely tired, wanting to rest,” Tae Dong-ryuk, a spokesperson for the puppy day care center, said in the reception area, which was blocked off from where the dogs were.
That seemed reasonable, given that any hint of a visitor outside led to an outburst of collective barking.
“We help make life better for both puppies and their owners,” Tae added.
Here, the daily routine resembles that of a real kindergarten. It even has a class system with “homeroom teachers.”
“We have regular programs like fun games, fitness programs and outdoor play. In summer, we have swimming sessions. During the picnic season, we take the puppies out where they can explore the outdoors freely, unleashed,” said Hong Jin-woo, one of the five teachers. Like most other staff, he is a qualified dog trainer with years of experience.
Aside from the daily routines, there are special events like birthday parties. B-day dogs each get a gift and a special photo shoot. Halloween and Christmas are two more big events approaching soon.
A dog rests inside Happy Puppy day care center in Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul. (Happy Puppy)
“We send daily photos and a memo from teachers to dog owners via app. Owners like the service a lot,” said Hong.
Pet owners are typically in their 30s to their 50s, and live in the vicinity. For those who can’t drop the dog off at day care, the center provides a pick-up and drop-off service. Also, six homeless dogs from an animal shelter are presently staying at Happy Puppy under a temporary protection program, Hong said.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)