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Day care lets dogs get some exercise

By Dan Nienaber

The Free Press of Mankato

MANKATO -- Everyone knows dogs can't talk.

But if April could speak, the golden retriever would probably tell you life isn't as "ruff" as it used to be.

Her owner, Heather Lynch, is one of several dog owners using a new dog day-care center in Mankato. So instead of spending lonely hours at home waiting for Lynch to get off work, April gets to go to the Me and My Master Canine Connection three days a week.

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For a $10 daily fee, April goes for regular walks, enjoys play time with other dogs and has people around to pet and praise her. And Lynch gets to relax when her workday is over because her dog isn't full of energy and begging for attention.

"I've noticed she's a lot more mellow when we get home," Lynch said. "I'd bring her there everyday if I could because she likes to be with other dogs and really seems to enjoy going."

For co-owners Maureen Rodriguez and Kristy Gilbert, working at their business is a bit like running a day care for children. A third owner, Karen Dehn, does run a child-care center and is only able to work at night.

"You do have to provide stimulation, both mentally and physically, or the dogs don't know what to do with themselves," Gilbert said. "So, in that way, it's a lot like working with children."

Rodriguez said she first considered starting the business after she lost the lease for the building where she was doing dog-training classes. It was hard to find a building that would work just for training, so she decided to find some partners, buy the building and add some new aspects to the business.

Besides having training classes and a day care for dogs, Me and My Master Canine Connection offers dog grooming, home-baked dog treats and an area where dogs can eat those treats while their owners drink coffee and have a snack of their own.

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