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T Q&A

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The paw-friendly floors are installed; the wood chip-filled sandbox lavatory is in place; the specialty sink for bathing is in working order. But Erica Carder, wearing a white T-shirt with "woof" written on the chest, is pining for the industrial size, pupsicle-possible air conditioner. And Christopher Beeson, wearing a black shirt stating, "Dog is my co-pilot," is scraping for time to install the backyard picket fences and agility equipment. With registration through the service's new Web site already trickling in, and its large signs facing North Stone Avenue triggering glances from hundreds of motorists every day, Carder and Beeson are working like ... well, dogs, to meet the Aug. 9 grand opening of their dream, the Dawg House Dog Day Care Service, at 750 N. Stone Ave, 90-DAWGS.

What made you want to open up a dog day care in Tucson?

Carder: Where we're from, up in Portland (Ore.), they're on almost every street corner. We love the weather (here), so we had some friends who helped us out in trying to see what will work here.

What is the ultimate goal of the Dawg House?

Carder: The ultimate goal, I think, is to give dogs a social place to be, where they can interact with peers and have a play group with human supervision to make sure it never gets too rough.

The Web site says that you'll charge $20 per day, per dog. What do owners get for their money?

Beeson: Well, it's like day care for your kids. We're always in here with them, and we have trainers who will help. They'll have socialization, so when they get home, they're worn out and happy. We also have this expensive floor that's made just for dogs, agility equipment and a living room for them with a TV that plays dog movies.

Carder: Also, if you buy a punch card, the price is as low as $16 a day. So if you prepay, it gets less expensive.

What type of dog would be the perfect candidate for the Dawg House?

Carder: A single dog at home, and they're alone all day. People will have interactions with other people all day long, and dogs need that, too. Society is sort of moving to realize that dogs are a part of the family, and they need to interact with each other, not just humans.

What about this expensive floor here?

Beeson: It's recycled rubber called Tenderfoot. It's made in Oregon especially for dog day cares. It's antibacterial and anti fatigue.

Carder: It's perfect for them to lay on. They won't skid. They don't slide. It's also good for their paws. If any dogs have nails that are a little long, it's very giving, so it won't push the nails back in, which is very good for them.

Speaking of nail clippings, will dogs be able to get them done here?

Carder: Yeah, we offer nail clipping and bathing. We don't do grooming, but we have an industrial hair dryer that isn't heat, just forced air. So your dogs can come home clean and dry clipped.

What are your biggest fears for when Aug. 9 comes, and you guys should be opening?

Carder: I don't have any fears about that. I think all of the fears have been about getting ready, getting the small business loan--you know, negotiating with landlords. Once we finally open, it's going to be fantastic. Playing with the dogs is my dream, so that's going to be the easy part.

You don't feel they'll turn on you at some point? I mean, you don't feel like the warden of a Haitian jail--one minute, you're fine; the next, you've got an army of militant captives against you?

Beeson: No, we thought about that. When we were doing our business plan, we toured at least 30 to 40 day cares and interviewed them, and we didn't see anything like that. The only time we did was when the dogs were being ignored. Those were the bad day cares, where they just got locked up somewhere. The places where people got involved, it was a fun day care group.

The rescue (organizations) in town are pretty strict. ... Have you been working with them at all?

Carder: We haven't (worked) with them yet, but animal rights and rescue are such a big part of my philosophy that we want to implement eventually a system of socialization for dogs that are adoptable, so then they'll be even more adoptable. Also, for people who own rescue dogs, we'll give a discount. We encourage that.

Beeson: Multiple dogs get discounts, too. Bring in two, the second will get a discount.

Nice touch on your Web site (dawghouse.biz) with the guitar solo and the dog barking at the end, by the way.

Beeson: I tried so hard to get him to do that! I just started recording, and he came in and barked perfectly at the end.

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