By Thomas BiasLAKE HOPATCONG — This month the Canine Country Club of the Lake at 10 Tierney Road in Lake Hopatcong will celebrate its first anniversary.
The state-of-the-art pet care facility offers daycare, boarding (or Stay and Play as Canine Country Club calls it), training, and bathing. As its name implies, it serves only dogs.
Although there may be up to 60 dogs kenneled at any one time a visitor would not know it. Owner-operator Jodi Brooks takes pride in her establishment’s cleanliness. The kennel areas and the indoor and outdoor play spaces are spotless and odor-free. Her priorities are the health, happiness, and safety of the dogs in her care.
Brooks, a native of Lancaster, PA, came to New Jersey to attend Seton Hall University on a basketball scholarship. After graduation, she stayed at Seton Hall and earned a Master of Business Administration degree, working her way through as a basketball coach.
She went on to work 12 years for Nissan America, but came to the conclusion that a rich life was not necessarily about how much money she could earn, but about devoting her life to something she loved.
And there is no question about it — Jodi Brooks loves dogs.
Before opening her business, she earned certificates in professional dog training and veterinary cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Managing the business does not allow her the time to do hands-on training of the animals in her care, but she believes that it is important that a business owner have a thorough knowledge of everything she is calling on her employees to do.
Her business philosophy not only prioritizes the health and happiness of her canine clients, but the health and happiness of her employees as well.
The teamwork ethic that she learned playing basketball at Seton Hall is something that guides the management of her business. “A disgruntled employee is not going to be someone who will go above and beyond,” she said.
The Canine Country Club has a carefully planned approach to dog care. Kennels are placed back-to-back so that the dogs do not see each other, limiting the stress of territorial conflict and the barking that goes with it.
Visitors will notice that the dogs only bark when an unfamiliar person comes into the kennel area. The the dogs get their necessary sleep, and all the kennels are equipped with comfortable canine beds.
At playtime, the animals are grouped by age, size, and temperament. As dog owners know, each dog has a unique personality, even within the many different breeds.
Brooks employs three other people and keeps a ratio of no more than 15 animals to one staff member.
During the summer vacation season, when the Stay and Play aspect of the business is at its peak, she is planning to engage three additional staff