Back to school season means new gym shoes and pencils for local kids and new daily routines for some local canines.
 
Dogtrix owner Karen Butler, who has been providing Fort Saskatchewan’s dogs with daycare, grooming and training services for about 15 years, is about to wrap up another summer of fun with her four-legged clients.
 
"We actually do have a back to school party that we always throw," she said when asked what the change in seasons might mean to dogs.
 
The party will include wading pools, bubble blowing -- “The dogs love to jump up and get them” – plenty of treats, and lots of extra walks.

September will mark a return to a busier time of year for Butler. With children back in school, she expects to see more pet owners looking for ways to keep their dogs happy and busy during the daytime.
 
"We always interview any dog that is a potential doggy daycare dog," she said. "They come in and we meet the dog, we meet the owner. We check vaccines.” 
 
Butler makes sure that dogs new to daycare have a chance to ease into their unfamiliar surroundings. New dogs start out with half days in care, no more than four hours at a time, giving them a chance to get used to the Dogtrix facility. Nervous dogs usually take about one or two visits to feel comfortable, Butler said. Once they are settled, they join in the daily routine.
 
“We stick very closely to our schedule during the day. Drop off is from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Our walks start at 8:30.” 
 
Nap time at Dogtrix is from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
 
“They're just allowed to free nap,” Butler explained. “And if some don't nap, that's okay. They're just allowed to go outside with their buddies or whatever they choose."
 
Afternoon walks start at 1 p.m, with daily pickup hours slotted from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
 
At Butler’s facility dogs aren’t separated by size – big and small enjoy the same large indoor play area.
 
“That's the model that we set up all those years ago. It's just play time. Play time all the time, but sticking to the routine of walking, napping and learning to socialize," Butler said.
 
The doggy pool party will happen the last Friday before school starts. Elk Island public and Catholic students are back in class September 4.

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