Canine Country Club: Success by D.O.G.
By Kathy Hosler
Photos by "Canine Country Club"
The Canine Country Club, located in Manheim, Pennsylvania, is a family owned and operated pet resort that offers boarding, daycare and grooming/spa services. It had a humble origin, but has grown into two bustling locations.
Founders and co–owners Gary and Kim Buchen credit their success to their strong faith, work ethic and love of animals. “From the very beginning our motto was D.O.G; Depend On God,” says Kim.
In 1991, Kim started a pet grooming business in their four–bay garage that Gary renovated for her. A few years later, Kim taught their daughter, Dashia, how to groom and their business started booming. Soon they began keeping dogs owned by friends and family, and the first section exclusively for boarding pets was built.
As their business grew bigger, the Buchen’s kept expanding. They added the main Canine Country Club lobby and additional luxury pet suites and condos. Their spotless, climate controlled rooms have heated floors and tempered glass doors, and most of them have their own patios. Later, to accommodate their growing doggie daycare, Dashia and Kim designed the newest addition, The Clubhouse.
Between boarding and daycare, they were caring for over 10,000 dogs and cats a year. The Country Club was operating at full capacity, but demand for their services was still growing. You would never believe that it all started in a garage!
It became increasingly apparent that they needed to open a second location. Now in addition to the Canine Country Club, they also have their newly opened Windsor location just seven miles away.
The family stays hands–on in their ever expanding business. Gary and Kim live on location at the original Canine Country Club site in their restored 1800’s farm house. Daughter Dashia and son–in–law Cody Stauffer (also co–owners) can be found daily at one or both of the resorts.
“Each location is situated on ten beautiful country acres,” says co–owner, Dashia. “The Windsor was designed and built from the ground up. It was very exciting. We learned what worked and what didn’t at the Club, and we incorporated that knowledge into the planning and building of the Windsor.”
“Over 1,000 people came out to the grand opening of the Windsor on May 5th and 6th, 2018,” says Tracy Musser. “We are in a very rural area, not a big city, so we were really excited to have such a huge turnout.”
When you step into the immense lobby of the 20,000 sq.ft. Windsor location, you are greeted by a relaxing fireplace and a gorgeous baby grand player piano. Adjacent to the lobby is their spectacular indoor pool. It has everything a canine guest could want: an inviting beach entry, jets for therapy swimming, bubblers and fountains. It’s open year round. They also have a 16′ x 32′ outdoor pool that operates during the summer months. The canine guests can even invite their owners to join in the fun.
Both the Club and the Windsor board dogs and cats, have daycare and offer grooming/spa services. Together, they can care for upwards of 300 pets a day. All the dogs who board with them start with the basic package, then the owners can select additional services from a large list of activities. They actually get to design their pet’s vacation. For example, the Windsor’s Favorites Activity Package includes a daily fifteen minute nature walk, a fifteen minute extra recess, wake up wags, ice cube treats every other day and a peanut butter Kong.
“One of the most popular activities is the nature walk,” says Co–owner, Cody Stauffer. “With all of our roomy acres to explore, the dogs love it. Even the cats can enjoy a nature walk. A staff member carries them in a backpack that has a large screen window.”
Pet guests can also have specially prepared treats and can add on group play. Boarding dogs enjoy a full or half–day of daycare at the Club. There are also evening playgroups where the owners can participate and play with the dogs—almost like a dog park.
The Club also hosts daycare parties. Their most popular one is the Bark 2 School party. Professional photographers come in and take head shots of all the dogs, just like school kids take for a yearbook. The owners love it!
WAGS is the daycare program at the Windsor. “We don’t do all–day playgroups,” says manager, Tracy Musser. “We have 65 rooms that are reserved specifically for the daycare dogs. Each dog has a room where they can settle in, get breakfast, have a potty break and then be matched up with the best playgroup. They play together for one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon in our spacious real grass or artificial turf yards. In-between the sessions, they can relax in a climate controlled atmosphere.”
“It’s an enrichment style of daycare,” says co–owner, Dashia Stauffer. “We focus on skills that make the dogs more well–rounded—like sit and stay and waiting at doors before going through them. It’s making their days more educational—not just a free–for–all play day. We definitely see the industry going this direction. We jumped on board with it.”
“Not every daycare dog can be a WAGS program dog,” continues Dashia. “There is an enrollment process. Dogs that are accepted in the program get one hour of playtime and one hour of activity play where we do mental games with them. And, they also get a focus session where we work with two dogs and one staff member to practice a skill.”
Cats are cared for and pampered at both locations. At the Club, comfortable, individually vented villas provide soothing music, a large observation window and free time out of their condo.
Whiskers Away at the Windsor is a cozy and quiet feline paradise located on the second floor. The feline guests can enjoy a room with a view and daily playroom time. They can also schedule various activities like cuddle time and laser pointer games.
The Fur Studio and The Windsor Spa offer full grooming and spa services. Owners can schedule grooming services for their pets while they are staying at the resorts, or by appointment any other time.
“Our staff is a critical part of the success of the Country Club Resort and the Windsor.” says co–owner, Cody Stauffer. “We have over 50 employees. They have all received extensive training in animal behavior, handling and communication. We all work as a team. No one is too important to clean up poop.”
“Our website, www.cccresorts.com, is our biggest source of advertising,” Tracy says. “And, our social media presence reaches a lot of current and potential clients. They get really involved and love seeing what we post on Facebook.”
Even though their Windsor location has just opened, plans are already in the works for a two-story addition. The first floor will feature an indoor park in the center with canine guest rooms all along the outside border. The upstairs will be designed to look like a street in New York City that will be lined with suites and penthouse rooms.
From a humble garage to two luxury pet resorts, the Buchen family has followed their dreams and worked tirelessly to create the ultimate pet vacation destinations.
“Everything we have accomplished has been a direct result of our motto,” say Kim and Gary emphatically, “D.O.G. Depend on God!”