All in a day’s work


Written and photographed by Marizanne Ferreira

Day care for dogs has become increasingly popular in recent years as more people understand that dogs need company and supervision during the day. All over the country, lucky dogs enjoy care and companionship at animal-loving places while their owners are at work. Doggy Day Care Port Elizabeth is one such place.

Happiness is…

I’ve heard so much about this wonderful establishment and, as a fan of the breed, once I heard that five of her regular clients are Pit Bulls, there was no stopping me to find out more. I mean, five Pitties together with other dogs? Really now – when all the media and the experts tell us that it’s just impossible? 

Wanting to get there before breakfast time, I left at the crack of dawn. Nothing prepared me for what greeted me when I arrived: ten happy smiles, ten wagging tails and, amidst all this canine glory, the kind face of Janene Venter, “armed” with only a spray bottle and the gentlest of attitudes.

A raging success

Janene Venter started her one-woman business show in March 2017 and it’s a great example of what a doggy day care should be.

Janene’s love for animals and her strong presence as a pack leader quickly turned this business into a raging success. So much so that she now has to turn people away. Her facilities include day care (currently fully booked), overnight and weekend stays and even long-term boarding for when the doggy “parents” go on leave.

Janene insists on all her clients being sterilised, fully vaccinated and socialised. These rules, her spray bottle and her strong pack-leader personality have made this venture a true success. 

Meeting the clients

The clients are all dropped off before their humans go to work, with the first arriving just on 07h00. Her longest-staying client is Candi, a little Jack Russell Terrier who has no idea that she’s the smallest of the lot and takes no nonsense from any of the other dogs. Levi, a very handsome Pit Bull, is a real Casanova who plays with all the Pittie girls, thriving on the attention he gets from Layla, Budda and “Auntie” Milla. Pit Bull girl Bailey seems to have a special attraction to Levi and he loves nothing more than to leave all the others to sneak off for playtime with her.

When I visited, I saw five Pit Bull Terriers, a Jack Russell Terrier, a Golden Retriever, a Bull Mastiff, a Chow Chow and a stout little Pug-Boston Terrier-mix pup spending their morning in harmony, sharing a sunny spot, eating together in the kitchen and, afterwards, relaxing inside on the couch. Sheer bliss!

I met Pit Bull owner Claudia Barnard when she dropped off sociable girl Bailey. Claudia decided to bring Bailey to day care because her doggy housemates are old and “boring” (to her!), and she longed for playtime with other dogs of her age. At the Doggy Day Care Centre, she gets to play with other dogs her size and has successfully learnt to “speak doggy language”.

Auntie Milla is a jumper – she scales 2.5m walls at home if left alone. At the centre, she’s kept so occupied and stimulated, happy and contented that she never even tries to jump the 2m walls.

Whatever the reasons are for their humans bringing their furry besties to day care, the dogs are benefiting greatly and go home tired and totally fulfilled. 

A word from Janene

Retirement was not suiting me – I was stuck at home and lacking in inspiration. I have a Bull Mastiff and a Retriever-mix, and when the Retriever was still a pup, I’d often wondered what folks with pups do when they have to go to work.

And, so, the seed was sewn. With help from my partner and a number of other friends’ input, the idea was put into reality. And I love it! Although it does make me partially homebound, my partner, friends and family help me out when I need to get out and do some errands.

My dogs are like my kids and I treat all the “clients” the same. “Work” has been replaced by my passion for dogs and the result is brilliant “entertainment” that I don’t even pay for, and a few very happy dogs.