By Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Todd A. Stafford
Defense Information School
Mary E. Hall, the administrator at the Family Pet Care Center on Fort Meade, Md., sits next to Anubis on Sept. 14, 2015. Anubis is one of the dogs Hall greets every day when they are dropped off for doggie day care at the center.
Mary E. Hall, the administrator at the Family Pet Care Center on Fort Meade, Md., escorts pets to kennels Sept. 17, 2015.
Kim K. Gunderman gets a kiss from one of the dogs enrolled in doggie daycare at the Family Pet Care Center on Fort Meade, Md., Sept. 16, 2015. Gunderman is the manager of the center, and she enjoys playing with some of the dogs for their daily exercise.
Kim K. Gunderman, the manager at the Family Pet Care Center on Fort Meade, Md., poses with Dimsum, one of the boarded dogs at the center, Sept. 17, 2015.
It is 7 a.m., and Mary E. Hall greets Anubis as he is coming through the front door.
“Good morning, baby. How is my baby doing this morning?” says Hall, the administrator at the Family Pet Care Center on Fort Meade.
Anubis is not a real baby but a 2-year-old, 85-pound, male, yellow-haired shepherd dog. His owner drops him off each morning for doggie day care at the Family Pet Care Center.
Anubis jumps around, wags his tail and excitedly starts making whimpering noises when he sees Hall, who always greets the animals that come to the center as her babies, she said.
“The staff members at the center treat your precious pet as your baby and not just as your pet,” she said.
The Family Pet Care Center provides boarding, grooming and doggie day care services for the pets of military members, Department of Defense civilians, and military and DOD retirees.
Built in 2002 with 28 kennels to help service members being deployed after 9/11, it was the Army’s first on-post animal boarding facility established in the U.S., manager Kim K. Gunderman said.
As the demand grew, so did the center. In 2006, it was expanded with an additional 20 kennels and a grooming area.
The center can now board up to 48 dogs and eight cats for stays of one day to a year.
Gunderman recalled taking care of a German shepherd for five months while its owner was in Afghanistan.
While boarding is the Family Pet Care Center’s primary purpose, doggie day care and grooming services are also available from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“Doggie day care is just like child care,” Gunderman said.
Owners drop off their dogs for doggie day care in the morning, and the dogs get to interact with the other dogs in the program throughout the day until the owners pick them up in the evening, she said.
Anubis has been enrolled in the doggie day care program for more than six months.
“Anubis loves to play, play and play,” Hall said. “He loves to play in the mud and in the pool.”
Grooming services include bathing animals, cutting fur, clipping and grinding nails, clipping and cleaning foot pads, and cleaning ears, said Lisa D. Moore, a part-time groomer and caretaker at the center.
“I like working with the dogs,” Moore said. “It’s not like working with people, where sometimes you go to work and you play ‘guess the mood swing game’ today. So is everybody happy, or are they going to bite your head off?
“Dogs are kind of there and just almost always happy to see you.”
A proposal to expand the center involves an additional 18 kennels and an enlarged grooming area, Gunderman said.
Until then, at the end of each day, Anubis will jump up, wag his tail and whimper – but this time it will be to welcome his owner back, Hall said.
All of the dogs at the center are excited when their owners come to pick them up at the end of the day, she said.
Owners often comment about their dogs falling asleep on the ride home, tired from playing with the other dogs, and the dogs are always glad to come back for another day of doggie day care at the center.