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Doggy Daycare More Than Just Place to Drop Off Pet

CLEVELAND-A new doggy daycare service will be opening near Cleveland Hopkins Airport in March of 2012.

Hattie’s Doggie Daycare and Boarding on Brookpark Road will be modeled after a successful cage-free program that’s already up and running in Twinsburg.

It’s operated by Hattie Larlham and is staffed with 40 people who are developmentally disabled.

Michael Weaver, 23, and Tracy Wilson, 25, are two of the employees who report for work in Twinsburg three days a week.

They’re responsible for cuddling and playing with clients like Hamilton the border collie and Matilda the labradoodle.

They also groom and clean up after the animals.

“I like working with the dogs,” said Weaver.

“I love being here and showing up on time,” giggled Wilson.

The daycare is open between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Dogs that are boarding have their own themed suites, like the Wizard of Paws.

“We exist to provide vocational training for people with various developmental disabilities,” said Dottie Grexa, vice president of Social Enterprise. “Our program is really a job site where we have job coaches and trainers that work with our folks.”

Larlham serves more than 1,500 children and adults with developmental disabilities in northeast Ohio.

Although a non-profit, Hattie’s Doggie Daycare is a self-supporting business whose employees earn a paycheck from the profits they make.

“They learn how to work with the animals, how to work with each other, how to interact socially with the customers that come in,” said Grexa.

The organization’s ultimate goal is to help each employee develop skills that will enable them to grow and move on to bigger opportunities.

Weaver wants to become a chef but Wilson may have found her calling right where she is.

“Sometimes I just get up, I just can’t wait to go to work and speak with the dogs,” she said.