GLENVILLE — As Marie Apholz, the manager of the The Dog Chateau, threw the ball inside the play area of the doggie daycare, a group of canines raced after it as two others playfully wrestled.
The Dog Chateau was opened in January 2020 by Markie Blackburn after she spent a year renovating the dilapidated building located at 4057 Amsterdam Road.
Blackburn, who owns two dogs — an 11-year-old Mastiff named Rowshi and a 3-year-old husky/Labrador retriever mix named Ulanii — is from the West Coast where she worked for around 12 years helping rescue and rehabilitate dogs.
“It was really tough work and really hard because you can’t help every dog,” she said. “So, I really wanted to open a place where it wasn’t so serious, it was more playful.”
Two months after opening the COVID pandemic hit, causing Blackburn to have to run the business on her own. But she said she was still able to grow her business and it’s still thriving.
One challenge she continues to face is finding employees that fit well into the company.
Blackburn, a canine behaviorist, said she trains all her employees.
“The people I choose to employ have to have natural ability with animals and leadership skills,” she said.
The doggie daycare and boarding business sits on 11 acres of land, enabling the dogs to have tons of space to play.
Blackburn said they take dogs on walks around the property, including along a small trail that she cleared. Dogs have space inside the 5,000-square-foot facility to play and nap as well, with the business providing toys and beds.
“But I always tell people you’re welcome to bring whatever you think your dog will feel most comfortable with,” she said. “So, people will bring t-shirts or beds or their own dog toys.”
It costs $36 a day for the daycare and $65 a day for boarding. Blackburn said unlike some daycares, they don’t charge extra for one-on-one time with animals.
“It’s a pleasure for us to pet your dogs — thanks for bringing them so we can pet your dogs,” she said.
She also said they will give dogs a bath and do their nails for a bit extra if requested.
While the facility allows for 40 dogs, Blackburn said they are selective about what dogs they take because it’s not always a great fit for the dog.
“We have to turn away a lot of dogs so we can keep it a safe, healthy environment,” she said.
Part of the evaluation looks at a dog’s temperament. Blackburn said the daycare is not really a fit for high-drive working dogs because they need more structure.
Blackburn said beyond the selfish reasons of just getting to be with dogs every day, her favorite part is when she sees improvements in dogs, such as timid dogs gaining more confidence.