By LOIS KINDLE
It’s been 10 years since Kendall Duncan and Angie Frazier left their jobs as Busch Gardens zookeepers and went to the dogs.
“We were animal experts, not business experts,” said Duncan, recalling their decision to open Canine Cabana, a canine day care and boarding facility. “When we started, it was just us, and now we have 23 employees.”
Literally starting from scratch, they did their research, took all kinds of classes, put together a business plan and worked it.
After a decade of boarding and training just about every breed of dog known to man, both women know they have many people to thank for their success.
“When Angie and I opened our doors 10 years ago, we had no idea of the personal connections we would make with our clients, guests and our community,” Duncan said. “We are so grateful for all the love and support we’ve received. We’re beyond blessed.”
Because of that support, they said, they’ve been able to build a thriving business and raise their children in the community they love.
The affection Duncan and Frazier have for their clients is reciprocal.
“Kendall, Angie and the Cabana are like family to us,” said Miriam Leech, of Bloomindale. “Our 10-year-old Aussie, Ringo, has been going there eight years, and he just celebrated his birthday with them last Friday.”
Leech said Duncan and Frazier helped Ringo overcome his early fear of other dogs.
“He loves going there,” she said. “He runs to his leash whenever I say, ‘Canine Cabana.’ It’s his second home.
“I trust them with my dog’s life,” she said. “I wouldn’t let anyone else take care of him.”
Bridgett Wilson, owner of Cardinal Roofing, agrees. Over the past “four or five years,” she’s entrusted Canine Cabana with the care of four dogs: her Aussie, Boomer, who has since passed; her dachshund, Schupper; and two rescues, Anakin and Padme, a German shepherd and Dutch shepherd.
“We drive all the way from Valrico to take them there,” she said. “We trust Angie and Kendall completely with anything dog-related. We board our dogs anytime we go out of town, and periodically they go for day care. They love it.
“When we get to the Cabana, it’s mass chaos in the car,” Wilson added. “They can’t wait to get out and go inside.
“We would never leave them anywhere else.”
Canine Cabana is at 9708 Carr Road, Riverview. Its highly experienced staff is thoroughly trained in dog and pack behaviors, canine body language, canine anatomy, pet CPR and first aid, to understand each dog’s personality, physical capabilities and compatibility with other dogs.
“This is the safest and most fun place to leave your dog,” said Frazier.
“It’s ‘funner’ than fun,” said Kara Drew, facility manager.
In addition to its regular boarding and day-care services, clients can add any of the Cabana’s enrichment programs, like Frisbee fun, water activities with pools and sprinklers, scent tracking and brain games; bathing options that include everything from a luxurious bubble bath and rinse to brush outs, nail trims and gourmet treats.
Training can include private sessions in Cabana Manners, ranging from sitting, leash and door behaviors to polite greetings, laying down and more. It can also include socialization, potty training for puppies and behavior consultations. “No dog ever fails at Canine Cabana,” Duncan said. “If they’re uncomfortable in a group setting, they fit perfectly into an enrichment program, where they get one-on-one attention from a team member,” Duncan said.
All Canine Cabana guests receive a wellness check to ensure their eyes, coats and ears are problem-free every time they walk through the door, and daily throughout their stay.
“They get constant attention throughout the day, so we know what their needs are,” Frazier said. “We look at every dog as an individual.”
Canine Cabana is open 365 days a year, including holidays. Its hours are 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The public is welcome to tour the facility at any time.
Dogs rule at Canine Cabana. They’re the very reason the place exists. It’s a happy place with a happy mission.
“We’ve honestly never met a dog we didn’t like,” Duncan said. “There’s no question about it. We love them all.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/caninecabanafl/ or www.caninecabana.biz. You can also call 813-672-9663.