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Subject: Doggie Daycare Bus

Written By: CatwomanofV on 04/06/08 at 4:42 pm

Bark-mobile hauls dogs to daycare

April 6, 2008

By Dawson Raspuzzi Staff Writer

It was difficult to tell who was more nervous as Tucker boarded the school bus for his first time on Wednesday — Tucker, who had never been on a bus, or his owner, who had to wave goodbye from outside the bus as it pulled away in the crisp morning air.

After some early hesitation to board, Tucker, an almost 2-year-old Shepard-mix, found an open seat, hopped up on it and looked around his new surroundings.

As Tucker settled in his seat a half dozen dogs peaked their heads over the gray leather bus seats with their ears in the air and tongues hanging out.

Once all of the dogs were aboard each was safely harnessed into seats. Stella and Lila, a pair of German shorthaired pointers sitting near the back of the bus let Kevin Mulholland, the bus driver and owner of Happy Paws Daycare in Castleton, know that they were ready to take off with a few low barks toward the front of the bus.

"In a minute girls," Mulholland said as he clicked the last dog's harness into a secured position.

Once the last dog was securely strapped in, the school bus pulled away from the Depot Parking Lot in the center of Rutland and headed to the doggy daycare in Castleton. Many of the dogs' "parents" waved bye before heading off to work for the day.

Mulholland and his wife, Jill, have owned the doggy daycare for the past three years and bought the half-sized school bus last month. Since acquiring the bus, Mulholland drives a Wednesday and Friday bus route in the morning and evening to pick up and drop off dogs that live closer to Rutland than Castleton.

"The dogs hesitate the first few times they get on the bus, but they all like the ride," he said.

Some dogs used the trip to catch up on naps, while others stared at vehicles that sped up to the side of the bus to rubberneck at the occupants.

Mulholland said Route 4 drivers routinely laugh, point fingers and photograph the curious expressions his canine passengers make.

"I get a lot of fun looks, everybody seems to like seeing the dogs on the school bus," he said.

Mullholland was impressed by how well behaved the dogs were the first time he drove the route. As the bus veers off of Exit 4 to Castleton, though, they start whimpering with excitement, and the volume increases as the bus approaches the daycare.

When it comes to a stop in front of Happy Paws, Mulholland wings the bus door open and his daughter, Samantha, who often rides along and helps at the daycare, unbuckles each of the dogs before they run to their playground.

Mulholland said the drive is one of the quietest periods of the day. Once the 50 or so dogs started wandering around inside and outside of the building they often don't stop barking until noon, he said.

"They're a lot like kids, they'll have their disagreements now and then but it's mostly just screaming matches," he said.

The bus route is still a work in progress. So far, the Depot Parking lot is the only bus stop on the route right now, although Mulholland has plans to expand the bus service as it becomes more popular.

The bus can accommodate 15 dogs comfortably he predicts. Each seat has been extended out to give the dogs a bigger cushion.

The current bus schedule is a 7:30 a.m. pickup, before many of the owners need to leave for work, and then a drop-off 5 p.m. after work gets out.

Kathleen Donahue, who considers her dog Tucker a member of her family, admitted to being nervous about her pup's first time on the bus.

"It felt like saying goodbye on a child's first day of kindergarten," she said.

At the afternoon pick up, Tucker jumped off the bottom step of the bus and ran to Donahue and licked her face.

Donahue said she'd be taking advantage of the bus pick-up in the future.

"I don't have to get up as early in the morning," she said, as the bus ride saves her a 20-minute ride to Castleton from Rutland where she lives.

Donahue said the money she saves on gas makes the $5 bus fee well worth it.

Sarah Hahn of Benson feels the same way about the new bus delivery. Her 2-year-old Husky and Malamute mix has been attending Happy Paws since he was 6-months-old. She has used the bus a few times, finding it to be convenient, and very cute, she said.

"The bus will mean that getting Abe to daycare is easier, he can certainly spend more time with all his friends and the best part is that he still comes home exhausted," she said.

Hahn said that her pup didn't have too much of a problem adjusting to the bus and that he seems to enjoy riding it.

"His hardest thing was getting used to the seat belt, he gets very excited when he knows where he is going," she said.

There were a couple of pics in the paper but they weren't on the website.


Subject: Re: Doggie Daycare Bus

Written By: snozberries on 04/06/08 at 5:06 pm

another one to add to the wish I'd thought of it file!

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