By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer–
Even before their doors opened on November 19, 2022, Muddy Paws Pet Resort was booked for Thanksgiving weekend. There is room to grow at a 3700-square-foot facility at 1200 West Ward Avenue. Owner Savannah Ham currently offers boarding and daycare for all sizes and breeds of dogs.
An added treat is Ham’s almost two-year-old son, Maverick. He greets you and can carry on quite an engaging interaction. He opens the laptop, hands out business cards, and will take your money if you offer it.
Burroughs graduate Ham was born and raised in Ridgecrest and has always been around dogs. “Since I can remember, we’ve always had pets. My family bred basset hound puppies, so we’ve always had all different breeds of dogs.” Her experience with family pets gave her useful knowledge, “We had a Pomeranian that was diabetic so that we can give insulin injections and everything like that.”
Muddy Paws is the only boarding facility in Ridgecrest. Ham worked for three years with a pet boarding facility and was in the process of planning her own when her employer closed the business in 2020.
Naming the business a pet resort is a reflection of the care the dogs receive. During their stay, they have their own 5’x7’ suite. “They are made of brick with a screen door, so they’re not kennel style. We have an indoor and outdoor play yard. We have heaters for the winter and air conditioning in the summer.”
Ham works closely with the dog owners to make sure the dogs will enjoy their stay. She says, “The dogs don’t have to be dog friendly to come, just people friendly.” If they aren’t dog friendly, they get their playtime outside and in the play areas. “Before you board for the first time, we do a five-hour trial daycare to make sure that they do okay in the facility before you leave on a trip out of town.” The dogs learn that their owners are coming back, and that helps abate their anxiety when they come for a stay. “We have lots of treats like Kong for nervous dogs. It keeps their brains engaged.” Kong is a hollow rubber toy that gets stuffed with treats and frozen, so the dog has to work at getting the treat. “We’ll always work with them and try to adjust and make the dog comfortable. We don’t want any dogs to be scared here.”
Muddy Paws has discounts for long-term stays and add-on features, which include a bedtime story, popsicles, and daily personal updates on how your dog is faring. They have fun events. “For Valentine’s Day, we’re doing Valentine’s treat exchange, so each dog that comes to the daycare will bring their own dog treats or little Valentine’s cards to share with their dog friends here. We do pack plays on Tuesday, so all dog-friendly dogs come on Tuesday; we group them up together, so they get playtime.”
Part of the reward for owning a boarding facility is watching the dogs go from nervous and scared first-timers to excited and happy return visitors. The smallest dog they house is a tiny chihuahua, Rigo, and the largest is a 3-year-old Great Dane, Bill. They stay during their owners’ vacations.
It is a good idea to make your reservation for your dog early if you know the dates you plan to be out of town. They schedule a year in advance. They are fully booked for Presidents’ Day weekend and already have bookings for November and December.
Opening a boarding facility had always been Ham’s dream. She loved her previous job and opened her grooming facility after training with Maria, who now works at Desert Dog Pet Store in Ridgecrest. Adding a retail section, a grooming station, and boarding cats are all in the long-range plans.
Owner Savannah Ham and her two-year-old son Maverick attend to a resident dog currently staying at the resort.