Founded by a group of friends who met through animal rescue volunteerism, The Oaks Dog Ranch in Cypress is putting dogs first.
Co-owner Cheryl Thomas said the business was founded by a team of five passionate animal lovers who all spent time at the Magnolia-based Abandoned Animal Rescue. Their work at the ranch—which provides dog boarding, training and day care services—is inspired by their time volunteering, she said.
“We all had the same kind of vision for how we want dogs to be treated in any kind of group setting because we came out of shelters,” Thomas said.
The ranch, which opened on Mueschke Road in September, differs from typical dog day cares in several ways, Thomas said. Her team prefers the phrase “play day” instead of “day care” for this reason, she said.
“A lot of the time what they do at day care is put [dogs]into a group and let them play,” Thomas said. “The thing is, unless you are able to interpret what you are seeing with a dog, you might think a dog is happy in a play group, and yet everything that’s really there are signs of stress.”
Each dog that comes to The Oaks goes through a play style assessment, which Thomas said helps determine how dogs like to play, who they want to play with and how physical they are. Play groups are not sorted by size but by play styles, which include “rough and rowdy” and “gentle and dainty.”
All trainers are certified, having passed the Certified Professional Dog Trainer Knowledge Assessment, Thomas said. As a result they are all experts at reading a dog’s body language, she said.
Work is ongoing at the 5-acre ranch, which is owned by Thomas, her husband Brett and Brett’s business partner Jorge Armenta. As of November, The Oaks features six outdoor and two covered play areas. Two more covered play areas are being constructed as well as a building that will offer 4,000-square-feet of indoor space. Work on a puppy development center is also being finalized, Thomas said.
Future plans involve turning The Oaks into a multifaceted complex that will include an affordable veterinary clinic and an animal rescue component, Thomas said. Plans for the animal rescue involve working with the Harris County Animal Shelter to provide a low-stress place for pregnant dogs to give birth to puppies.
“The [puppies]will be handled extensively and be socialized, [so]the things that cause dogs to be afraid and have bad behaviors, these puppies never have the chance to have that,” Thomas said. “It will be 3-4 months before we let them be adopted, but you’ll get a completely trained, house-broken, good-behavior dog.”
Thomas said she also plans to start offering classes to dog owners in 2019 to help them continue dog training at home. In the meantime, co-founder Megan Dueck said the team will continue to keep the focus on the dogs.
“Doggy day care has been built around what the owner wants for their dog, not what the dog needs,” Dueck said. “We focus on actually making an environment where a dog can be a dog.”
16613 Mueschke Road, Cypress
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 6 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.