On a recent sunny day, Shih Tzu Mozart is being introduced to dachshund Dash, poodle mix Buster, beagle Bailey, and mixed breed Reilly. The happy crew of dogs is enjoying play time in the large yard at Free Range Boarding, romping in the grass, playing chase, and engaging in some get-to-know-you sniffing.
Free Range Boarding is the kind of farm you envisioned your beloved dog visiting as a child, with lots of open space to run and play surrounded by the rolling hills of the Palouse. It’s not your typical kennel.
Owner Amy Fumetti-Levine designed Free Range Boarding as a dog bed-and-breakfast. There are no cages here. Dogs have their own suites, and play together in one of three large yards. The staff-to-dog ratio never exceeds 1 employee to 15 dogs. It’s a new concept for the Spokane area, and, although only open since June 1, Free Range Boarding is already attracting clients from as far as North Idaho.
“It’s basically a luxury dog hotel,” said Fumetti-Levine. “It’s modeled on European standards.”
Located just off the Palouse Highway, the barnlike boardinghouse has an old fashioned vibe. But step inside and this cozy home-away-from-home is high-tech. Each room offers a 24-hour webcam for doting fur baby parents to check in on their pups. A state-of-the-art air handling system features continuous air exchange to prevent illness and keep the facility smelling fresh. Sound-dampening insulation in each suite prevents dogs from being stressed out by the sounds of their neighbors.
The 18 suites named after different trees (aspen, alder, willow, etc.) feature one-of-a-kind watercolor dog portraits, raised cot beds, and doggie-level windows. Up to three dogs from the same family can stay in a room. Extra services include cuddle time sessions, frozen treats, and tuck-in service.
All dogs must pass health and behavior screenings to make sure they will be comfortable at Free Range Boarding and are able to socialize with other animals. Even so, dogs are further divided into play groups that take into account size and temperament.
“Even though they are all great dogs, they have different play styles and may not all mix,” said Fumetti-Levine.
In addition to boarding, Free Range offers dog training and limited grooming services.