There was a moment last week when I was reminded just how wonderful our team at the Farm is. New clients were dropping their pup off for his first boarding stay with us. It was one of the first times he was ever in our building, and with just a little encouragement from mom, he started to follow our attendant back to the playroom. As he ventured through the lobby sniffing around, he remembered where he was. ARF means playtime! He began to bounce, leading the Attendant straight back to the indoor playroom and lounge, excited to play.
Mom and Dad were all smiles and told me that they just get a great feeling when they enter the Farm. That they could tell that we love dogs. I quipped that every single staff member here doesn’t just love dogs, we all really, really love dogs. They shared that they were relieved they found somewhere they absolutely trust with their fur baby. As they left the building, confident that we will take wonderful care of their precious family member, I thought about what I had said. It’s absolutely true. We really, really love dogs, but what does that mean?
To work at the Farm, you have to be a special type of person. You have to be excited and prepared to put in the many hours of observation and study that it takes understand canine behavior and communication, and use this information to keep our friends comfortable and happy. You have to be willing and interested in ongoing education both in the playrooms and through the courses the Farm invests in for all employees. You also have to take a pledge that we take very seriously. I’ll talk about that pledge a little later in this post.
Our staff is really like a family with so many shared laughs, tears, and treats. We look forward to spending time with our buddies who come in regularly and are always so excited when we see faces that only visit for boarding and daycare once or a few times per year. If you’re a ARF client, you’ve probably recognized that we appreciate each dog’s individual personality. We use what we learn about them specifically to make every visit to the Farm a happy and fun experience. This way, they are always excited to return to play with us! We know their little idiosyncrasies–their favorite games and toys, favorite play equipment and spots, if they are a fan of the bubbles, pools, or sprinklers, the easiest way to get them to take the medication that they aren’t a huge fan of, etc. We also know what they’re communicating to us and to the other dogs with their body language and vocalizations–in fact we study it! This helps us to make sure that they are having a wonderful and safe time while they are with us.
This wonderful staff has been cultivated over the past half decade. In fact, we just celebrated our 5th anniversary in October! We celebrated quietly during this pandemic, But mark your calendars for a super fun celebration for future Anniversary’s. https://www.facebook.com/arfdogcare
You may have met our founder, Amanda, or have gone through private meet and greets with Holly or Amanda. You may also be familiar with our Assistant Manager of Daily Operations, Holly, our shift leads Desirae, Lilly, Tessa and John, other members of our team that you interact with when you drop off or pick up your pups. Wondering who is who? Check out our staff page here to learn more about our team! What you may not know is that we actually have over 5 employees (and growing!). You may only catch a glimpse of some of us when your dog is going in or coming out of the playrooms or maybe you just see us on the Facebook pictures.
Whether it’s a nudge for one more pet or a full body wag when they see us, your pups melt our hearts. We laugh while sharing stories with each other about the funny and adorable things they do while they are with us. We love watching them grow and celebrating milestones, and share in your pain during the harder times. We know how important your dogs are to you and want you to know how important they are to us. We are grateful that you can feel at ease while your best friends are with us and we wanted to tell you a little bit more about our awesome staff.
All of us participate in ongoing training and education so that we can best serve you in providing a fun and safe playroom environment. All of our programs are Fear Free. . Here is a short excerpt from a post we made about Fear Free at the farm,
Fear Free provides education and certification to veterinary professionals and the pet professional community. The initiative, created by “America’s veterinarian” Dr. Marty Becker, focuses on the importance of the emotional well-being of our best friends in addition to physical well-being. It’s goal is to alleviate fear, anxiety and stress in pets and educate and inspire the people who care for them.
This brings me to the pledge that I mentioned earlier.
If you work at Apple Ridge Farm, you have pledged to only use positive, kind methods in every interaction you have with the dogs. You will never find any of us using fear, intimidation, or any aversive methods–ever. Apple Ridge Farm invests in us as employees, providing the resources and ongoing education we need to decipher dog body language and communication. We are taught how to gain trust and build a strong bond with every dog that comes to the Farm, as well as positive training and leadership methods. We rely on these positive tools to guide the playgroups.
We have staff levels that are indicated by the colors of lead (leash) that we always carry with us while working:
Team members that carry BROWN leads are New Hires in Training. They are working toward earning their blue leads.
Team members that carry blue leads are Assistant Dog Handlers. To earn a BLUE lead, we must:
To advance to the Dog Handler position and get our RED leads, we:
To earn our LIME GREEN leads when we become Senior Dog Handlers, we:
Our highest staff level is Daycare Director. A Daycare Director has a tri-color – GREEN/TAN/RED lead. So far, we have One employee that has earned their tri-color lead! In addition to all of the requirements of the prior leash levels, a Daycare Director: