A fledgling business in the heart of the Saucon Valley is providing local pooches with the pampering they deserve when their owners are away.A Furry Tail Come True Doggie Daycare and Play Day Boarding Center, located at 26 Main St., recently celebrated its first anniversary as a Hellertown business.

More than just "a furry tail come true" for the pets who are cared for on site, 'A Furry Tail' has been a dream come true for owner/operator Jessica Schwickrath, of Lower Saucon Township, and her husband, Anthony.

Schwickrath, who holds a degree in elementary education, fell in love with doggie care when she accepted a volunteer position at a local animal shelter, she said during a recent interview.

"I loved every minute of it," she explained.

After subbing at the shelter, Schwickrath went on to become manager-a title she held for two years.

At the end of that period, she decided, "I want to do some-thing with dogs," she recalled.

According to Schwickrath, canine daycare is a growth industry, and the Saucon Valley area was without a business that supplies pet owners with day-care and/or boarding for dogs.

Initially, Schwickrath said, she "wasn't sure about boarding" dogs at the business, but now she's glad that she and her husband decided to make the center a welcoming home for both short-term and long-term guests.

Located in a former residence, 'A Furry Tail' was extensively renovated by the Schwickraths to make it more comfortable and safe for dogs and staff.

Washable surfaces were tacked onto walls and hinged, Dutch-style doors were installed, to allow for the constant observation of pets.

"They have to be watched at all times," Schwickrath explained, as she supervised 'bath time' for approximately 12 medium-sized and large dogs in the outside play area at 'A Furry Tail.'

During the summer months, approximately 30 to 40 dogs have stayed at the center each day. The majority of these dogs are there for daycare only, and are dropped off each morning and picked up each afternoon by their owners.

Some dogs, however, stay in protected cage-free suites overnight, if they are boarding at 'A Furry Tail Come True.'

For the sake of the pets' safe-ty, the business is protected "like Fort Knox," Schwickrath commented.

Burglar and fire alarms are in place and are active during the overnight hours, she added.

Despite its reputation as a welcoming haven for dogs, Schwickrath noted that not every dog brought in as a poten-tial boarder or daycare guest is ultimately accepted.

Each canine candidate must pass an evaluation prior to being accepted, and all animals brought in must be up to date on vaccinations.

When dogs are accepted to 'A Furry Tail,' they are general-ly segregated by size, for their own protection, Schwickrath said.

Many of the larger dogs who occupied the play area in the backyard on a recent Thursday morning visit like to engage in rough play, which would be too physical for the smaller pets.

According to Schwickrath, most of the dogs cared for at her facility come from local homes, and many are the pets of com-muters who do not want to leave them at home alone five days per week.

To help other residents in the area learn about 'A Furry Tail,' the business sponsors a "Refer-A-Friend" program, which Schwickrath explained has been successful in attracting new clientele.

For more information about 'A Furry Tail Come True,' call 610-838-6638 or visit www.afurrytailcometrue.com.

Josh Popichak is the editor of The Saucon News.

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