Summer Fun: Bark & Zoom Opens at ABIA
Your pup will want to stay in this doghouse
By Katarina Brown,
8:05AM, Fri. May 19, 2017
Vacations are the hallmark of summertime. The airport gets busy, and the pets get sent to boarding. For many, this can put a damper on their vacation. But what if time in the kennel was like a vacation in and of itself?
With Taurus Academy’s new airport location, that’s the exact dream owner and CNO Melanie McLeroy was chasing. It turns out summer for your pet, inside and outside of boarding, is just as sunny for your pooch as for you.
McLeroy had been daydreaming about this airport location for six years in the making, but with no other dog kennels in the country on airport property, she realized Taurus would have to break ground in more than a couple of ways. It was only when a national vetting was held for another travel-related business to pair with parking at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport that Bark & Zoom and Park & Zoom took shape. While a majority of parking businesses were competing with one another to score the spot, it was the combo idea of Bark & Zoom and Park & Zoom that helped both teams snag the win. With this partnership, owners could drop off their pets and cars simultaneously and McLeroy’s longstanding dream could be fulfilled.
At the forefront of McLeroy’s mind was how this partnership would improve summers for dogs and dog lovers alike. The cheap parking and great location makes the new Bark & Zoom attractive for humans, but the features are what get the tails wagging. The new Taurus includes a huge trail for dogs to get their walks, plenty of time for playgroups, and even a pool – a first for the local chain of dog training and boarding facilities, but an essential addition for the idea of a real doggone pet vacation.
“Because of the way we do playgroups, the dogs are definitely on vacation too,” says McLeroy. Highly trained staff at all Taurus locations ensure that dogs play nice and make the most of their time while boarding, increasing behavioral health and building furry friendships along the way.
“It’s our intention that the dogs go home in better shape physically and behaviorally than when they came in,” says McLeroy. “We know every dog really well. We know which dogs are BFF; we know which dogs don’t like each other.”
As the dynamics start to take shape, it becomes clear that while your pup is also on a kind of vacation, the overall image of a dog’s summertime is closer to summer camp than a free-for-all summer break. This will ring true to many pet owners that consider themselves more like pet parents.
“People call it camp all the time,” says McLeroy. “Camp or school!”
With this characterization in mind, it becomes easier to pack the guilt and realize that your time out of town can be a welcome treat for your dog as well, one where they make friends, pick up skills, and hopefully run off some of that energy that seems to be a side effect of those longer days.
However, McLeroy acknowledges that no matter how great summer camp is, kids and dogs jump at the chance to be reunited with their loved ones.
“At Taurus, we stay open late, until 8pm, because we want people who are traveling or working late to be able to pick up their dog,” says McLeroy. “But sometimes you get in at 10 or 11 or midnight.”
Those possible late-night flights is why Bark & Zoom will be open 24 hours a day, and highlights the perks of having a facility on airport property. While there have been delays in opening the barking side of Park & Zoom and Bark & Zoom, the facility officially opened on May 13. This brought around a new era to the long-distance love affair you have to conduct with your pup when you’re away. After all, the only thing better than a vacation is coming home after one – and that’s true regardless if you’re a human or a dog.
The Austin Chronicle’s Summer Fun issue is on stands now.