People everywhere are sheltering in place but they are not all doing so in the same way. Lindsey Parker and Katie Wojnoonski are also two individuals who have sheltered in place, but they are not doing it at home, they are sheltering with dogs at the dog daycare they operate.
After a few Bay Area counties ordered people to stay at home to slow down how quickly the coronavirus was spreading, the Dog Social Club went into action. The two CEOs of the club moved into their facility in West Oakland to give 24/7 care to the animals that were boarded.
“There was really no hesitation between Katie or I about what we needed to do,” said Parker. “We had sort of mentioned, almost jokingly, between ourselves before the actual directive was announced, that if something like that were to happen, we would just move in.”
On March 16, Wojnoonski turned the corner office into her bedroom and began staying there with her husband Andy. Parker created a bedroom out of another office and they are sleeping on air mattresses.
“Thank goodness there is an employee shower that already existed,” Parker said. “We really didn’t want to have to use the grooming facilities to bathe.”
The facility has been closed to regular customers, but healthcare workers and first responders are dropping off their pets as they go out to fight on the front lines of the pandemic.
On a recent day, there were nine dogs at the facility and they were loving life, having lots of fun running around on the Astroturf. Typically, they spend anywhere from one day to a few nights at a time, according to Wojnoonski. It’s a real relief to their owners who are pulling long shifts at the hospital or out on the street.
“[We’re] doing what we can to take one little bit of stress off of them by knowing that their dogs are well taken care of,” she said to KQED. “That’s the way that we know we can help.”
There is about 50,000 ft.² of space at the facility and there is somewhat of an empty feeling at this point. Before the order to shelter in place occurred, the boarding and daycare center would typically have 200 dogs a day and there was a staff of 50 on-call.
The staff is now temporarily on furlough but the CEOs are monitoring developments, such as the stimulus bill. Those may help the employees.
The two women are also doing what they can to keep a regular routine.
“This sounds really silly, but I’ve been doing a lot of dance parties with the dogs,” Parker said. “It keeps up my morale, and also they seem to enjoy wiggling around and dancing around the yards.”
They also get the dogs to splash around a little and have “toy time” to keep things interesting.
The two women have been using the staff kitchen which has microwaves, a toaster oven, a hot plate, and even a camp stove that was brought from home.
“We had a luxury meal last night … with some backyard-grown artichokes,” Parker said. “That was really amazing.”
They are prepared to do this indefinitely.
“The coming weeks are still really uncertain,” said Parker. “We want to make sure that we can be a resource to people who need it.”
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