(First published in the May 16, 2019 issue of City Pages)
Doggie daycare and training facility opens next to Wausau’s proposed dog park
The Bark Academy: Britany Sciborowski, left, and Missy Kelly say their own dogs, Willow and Lucky, help with the teaching process at the new location.
There’s a reason the two main figures at the new Bark Academy, beyond having worked together for years, seem to finish each other’s sentences. Missy Kelly and Britany Sciborowski, both certified dog trainers, are sisters.
About the same time they wanted to provide pet daycare in addition to training, and needing more space than was available at their Merrill Avenue location, they got wind of a plan to build a dog park in Wausau, on city-owned land behind the post office on Forest Street. And they were pleased to also learn there was a building with space available right next door.
Their new location is in the center of town, yet with nobody next door who would be upset with occasional dog barking. Indoors, they have 5,000 square feet of play area with separate large pens for dogs that might be significantly different in age, size or attitude. Outdoors, they have another 5,000 square feet of fenced play area that soon will become the first facility of its kind in the area with grass for dogs to run on.
Kelly says the extra space is good for dogs with a personality issue, like low confidence around other dogs. That pet can be separated, at least at first, in a different room or behind a fence. It also gives them plenty of room for training sessions.
Dogs brought there need to have been immunized against rabies, distemper and bordetella (also known as kennel cough). Interestingly, dogs brought to daycare at The Bark Academy won’t cross Plumer Street to play in the new dog park, if it’s built. Sciborowski says The Bark Academy can assure customers that all the dogs in their building are free of those diseases, but couldn’t make the same assurances at a dog park open to the general public.
Business hours are weekdays 6 am–6 pm, with assigned drop-off and pick-up hours in the morning, lunch time, and afternoon. They will take dogs that are reactive or have behavioral issues. Both women are certified trainers, but Kelly, who is the owner, has done it longer (for 10 years) and prides herself in helping problem dogs. With a laugh, she says, “Humane Officer Bishop and I have become very good friends.”
Dogs that come in for training are split into classes for puppies, intermediate and advanced, each class consisting of six sessions. They joke that in most instances, the dogs can behave and learn, but, “the training is mostly for humans.” They also offer canine good citizenship (CGC) classes to qualify as therapy dogs.
The Bark Academy will hold a grand opening celebration Saturday, June 1, from 1-3 pm, with brats and hot dogs. Guests are asked to leave their dogs home that day.