By Breanna Flores
La Habra Journal
Vacations are especially popular during extended weekends; Memorial Day weekend was no exception this year. Pets and pet
owners filtered in and out of The Dog Lodge lobby. Away from the outside buzz was Jazzy, a small, delicate white dog. The deaf and blind dog was kept in a large wire cage in owner Sharon Machlik’s office because she required more supervision than most others at the facility.
Machlik said that even though Jazzy is a “regular” at The Dog Lodge, her owner still sits and cries for about 10 minutes every time she drops her off.
Parting with a pet is often difficult for pet owners –even if it is only temporary. For this reason, Machlik and her staff try to make owners feel as comfortable as possible.
“[Pets] really play an important part in people’s lives. It just takes talking to people and showing that you really care about the animal, rather than saying it’s just a business and [asking] how many days they’re going to be here,” Machlik said.
Born and raised in Michigan, Machlik later moved to Indiana to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Purdue University. Years later, she received a phone call asking if she would be interested in moving to California to work in food product development.
Years passed and Machlik gradually learned about dogs and grooming. She acquired the former kennel about 15 years ago and added additional services to create a “complete pet care facility.”
The Dog Lodge has remained competitive with larger companies by offering a flexible boarding facility. Instead of keeping dogs in a cage for the duration of their stay, dogs can access the outdoors during the day. At night, dogs are kept in an indoor area that is heated or cooled accordingly.
Animal wellness is a top priority at the facility, this includes ensuring that the animals are eating regularly. In some cases, dogs become too stressed to eat. This is common for dogs who have never before been apart from their owner. With the owners’ approval, Machlik’s staff cook chicken and rice for any stressed dogs and coax them into eating and eventually regaining their appetite.
Machlik said that it takes experience to learn how to handle a variety of animal temperaments and personalities.
To ensure that new and current staff members know how to care for these animals, the facility is visited monthly by a veterinarian. The vet inspects the facility and also teaches the staff how to handle aggressive animals. In addition, suppliers also brief the staff on product benefits and uses. This includes products such as various shampoos for sensitive skin, dry skin and conditioners for dry skin.
Animal care and supervision is required 24 hours a day. To achieve this, some employees live adjacent to the facility.
For those who are unable to drive their pets to The Dog Lodge, the company’s mobile van will drive to your house and groom. On average, grooming takes two hours.
One of the ways Machlik gives back to the La Habra community is by donating boarding and grooming gift certificates to organizations.
One of the most rewarding experiences for Machlik is seeing how happy people are, once they are reunited with their pet after a few hours or after several weeks. There are several dogs who have been boarded at The Dog Lodge for five or six years. Owners sometimes move to new homes that do not allow pets or no longer able to care for their pets due to an illness. Pets are normally visited every few weeks but are kept at the facility long-term.
The Dog Lodge is located at 1551 West Lambert Road in La Habra and can be reached at (562) 691-6466. Business hours are Monday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.