Minneapolis — Jamie Lanegran grew up with animals “my entire life — dogs, cats, lizards, snakes, horses,” she said. She entered college as an animal science major, took a break from school and then completed a business management degree. “The original major wouldn’t have created as many opportunities as management,” she said.
After four years in supervisory and managerial roles, she was approached by the owners of The Woof Room, a day care and boarding facility for dogs in suburban Minneapolis. “I know the owners. They know I’d been in management roles before,” she said. “In my previous job I was not working with animals at all. I learned a lot of managerial skills. I’m learning a lot from the owners here — the business aspect of the animal world, dealing with vets, owners, dogs. I’m learning more dog behavior, although I knew a lot before.”
As business manager, Lanegran oversees a staff of 14-16 employees. “We have one assistant manager and a supervisor. The rest are dog day-care attendants,” she said. Lanegran is in charge of interviewing, hiring, firing and scheduling. In addition, she said, she manages day-to-day activities. “I set people to their tasks. I do some of the cleaning myself.” In addition, she said, “Sometimes if I have other people doing tasks that I don’t want them to stop, I’ll go out to the playroom. I love that part of the job.”
As a manager, Lanegran said, “I like the fact that I am helping an establishment and their business to be better run, to go as smoothly as possible. I have an open-door policy with all my staff. They know they can come to me. I’m very consistent in the way I handle things.”
Q: What’s the best part of the job?
A: I love being with the dogs but I also love interacting with the owners, seeing how happy they are when their dogs are here. We have a lot of great people working here.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge?
A: We make a point to tell an owner if anything went wrong. It can be a challenge — we never want to make them feel bad about their dogs. Most owners are appreciative that you know what happened with their dogs. The No. 1 priority at the Woof Room is the dog’s safety. My assistant manager is certified in pet first aid and CPR (I will be soon also), and we go over dog handling techniques with every employee.
Q: What tips would you give owners for helping their dog enjoy day care or boarding?
A: I would definitely suggest socialization before they come here. Even if the dog is not dog-friendly, we take them and put them in one-on-ones where they can play with one of our people. Let us know about feeding habits, if they have anything they don’t like. If they don’t like to eat when they’re away from their parents, we can put peanut butter in their food or something that can help them eat. One thing that is great to have is a comfort item — their toys, bed, a T-shirt with owner’s smell on it.
Q: Are most dogs anxious about leaving their owners?
A: You have so many of these dogs that when their owner starts to leave, they bark and cry. Once we get around the corner, their entire body language changes. They start trotting toward the playroom. They get excited, it’s a different dog.