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All dogs go to heaven

Chicago Canine Club offers luxury for pups, community service for adults

"Bruno" Denton spends time at the Chicago Canine Club in Burr Ridge on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. The Canine Club offers doggie daycare, boarding, grooming and training.
"Bruno" Denton spends time at the Chicago Canine Club in Burr Ridge on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. The Canine Club offers doggie daycare, boarding, grooming and training.

They’re man’s best friend and usually get the best of attention from their owners, but the Chicago Canine Club in Burr Ridge has made even the richest of breeds jealous.

The luxury getaway for dogs features everything a human would look for when booking a four-star hotel. There are suites, an exercise area, luxury bathes and the play area is even designed like a country club. A posh paint theme lines the walls, and on the floor is a large dog head featuring an ear and nose as a sand trap and the eye as the green.

“We wanted to set up this place like a doggie country club, just like a human country club, where you’re treated with the very finest,” said manager Erin Herbert of Western Springs.

The Canine Club, 16w129 83rd St., started in 2008 and was designed to be an additional revenue stream for Community Support Services in Brookfield, which provides services to people with developmental disabilities.

CSS President and CEO Diane Farina White said one of the unique features of the organization is the offering of a seven-week training program that takes place three times a year, usually with between two to five people with disabilities, to teach participants how to work with canines. Once the program concludes, each person becomes certified and can then find work in the community.

Currently, there are two people working at the Canine Club who have gone through training.

“What they love about it is being responsible and being able to play with the dogs,” White said. “We have one individual who can run dog groups and another individual who is responsible for the cleanliness of the kennel area, so he’s kind of a maintenance support individual there.”

Not only are the canines beneficial to those in the program, but they also benefit from their care.

“The dogs are very gentle with those who have disabilities,” Herbert said. “They tend to want to sit by them, be by them and they’re a little bit calmer and a little bit easier to handle when there’s someone with special needs sitting by them.”

One unique feature, and one of the greatest things someone can witness, is the dogs running on treadmills, either for exercise or to calm them down.

“It is an owner request,” Herbert said. “We have it two different ways — the owner can come and put the dog on the treadmill themselves, which is a little lesser of a charge, or our staff can put the dog on the treadmill at the owner’s request.

“Sometimes if a dog comes in and it’s very excited or has a lot of energy our staff will just take the initiative and put the dog on the treadmill for maybe 10 minutes and get a little bit of his excitement out so he can go into the groups a little bit easier,” she added.

Caroline Leban of Darien is a regular who brings her two, 2-year-old Westies to the Canine Club about once or twice a week. She said the dogs love the socialization.

“They have all kinds of different activities that they put them through and they have groups they (the dogs) go in,” Leban said. “Many times they’ll split ours up because one is bigger than the other.”

Leban said one of the things that stood out to her as opposed to other dog care centers was the staff.

“Everyone seems so happy when they come in and they just make everyone feel good there; they just have a wonderful staff,” she said. “They know exactly how to treat them."

On Sunday, the Canine Club had a Halloween open house, which featured vendors catered to the dog industry, a local veterinarian to answer questions for those in attendance, retail specials, live music, art on display and a raffle.

Herbert said the open house had a great turnout and one of the nice things was seeing the surprise reaction that several canine customers had when they saw handmade paintings of their dogs from those with disabilities.

“There’s doggie daycare and there’s doggie daycare, but they’re really high tech and do a great job," Leban said. “I can’t say enough about them.”

About the Chicago Canine Club

The Chicago Canine Club started in 2008 as a way to generate additional revenue to support Community Support Services, a Brookfield-based organization that provides services to people with developmental disabilities. The Canine Club also hosts a training program devised to help CSS participants develop job skills, with curriculum including the basics of handing, caring for and working with dogs.

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