It was like sending your kid off to kindergarten for the first time. Got all of his shots? Check. Lunch? Check. Favorite toy along for the ride? Check.
Except in this case, Bruno was much younger than your average kindergartner. At six months –- three in dog years -– Bruno the Brussels Griffon was starting his first day of doggy daycare, and we chose a relatively new shop on Murray Street called The Paw Stop.
It wasn’t easy to watch those sad eyes and weight-of-the-world furrowed brow as he was led reluctantly past rows of chow and squeeze toys toward the ominous door at the back of the room.
But then, as I peered through the glass, it was obvious that Bruno’s trepidation turned into fascination. Already, he was ping-ponging across the large room, navigating the plastic jungle gym, sizing up all of his new classmates, testing the tiny trampoline-like devices to nap.
The Paw Stop –- which has since changed its name to Spot –- draws dozens of dogs each day, divided into two groups (large downstairs, smaller upstairs), some arriving on leashes while others via Spot’s taxi service.
On days when we’ve arrived before the 7am opening, Bruno paws at the front door and whimpers until he’s shepherded in. A loving crew of workers -– especially Robert, Eliza and Michelle –- seem to spark a tail-waggin’ frenzy.
And there are reports of his budding romances –- all G-rated, I’m told -– with a few of his friends. Now, this would be easy for me to see if I had the time: Spot provides a doggy cam in which owners can watch their dog all day long; alas, there’s little time for me to check up on him, but I know he’s in good hands.
Since that first day, Spot is part of Bruno’s daily routine. He seems forlorn when inclement weather spurns his Downtown desires. When he returns the next day, it’s as if he’s a heralded hero, as all of his classmates gather around him when he bounds into the room. At those moments, the hair on his back and tail stands straight up.
And hours later, when dusk sets upon the city, Bruno literally collapses before the doggybag hits the subway on the ride home each day.