Dirk Broersma (pictured above) isn’t your average dog lover. He devotes nearly all his time to taking care of not just his dogs— a German Shepherd and SIX
Affenpinschers— but also others, at his
dog daycare, A Walk in the Park.
Broersma started planning his business in 2015, and it officially opened in March of last year. He says in that time, it has grown enormously. He spends seven days a week and most nights at “the ranch” (as he calls it), which offers overnight boarding.
“We’re here around the clock,” Broersma said. “Someone’s here overnight, usually me.”
A Walk in the Park is located at the former Toledo Area Humane Society building in Maumee, with some of the offices converted to bedrooms for overnight staff and the dogs who don’t sleep in kennels.
“We don’t just put them in a box, turn off the lights and go home. That’s stressful for some dogs,” he said.
A Dog Centered Approach
The daycare aims to be “dog-centered,” allowing the dogs to spend the day playing together and with the staff with as much time outside as weather allows.
“This is such a personal business. People love their dogs, like a kid. They have to trust you to take care of them,” Broersma said. “[The dogs] have a place here where they feel safe, other dogs they can relate to, and people that pay attention to them.”
Broersma’s passion started years ago, with a dog of his own, a pit bull named Kiddo. Broersma and his wife Susan got Kiddo certified as a therapy dog, then went on to train other dogs to be therapy dogs.
After his wife died three years ago, Broersma decided to start working with dogs full-time and he began planning A Walk in the Park.
“I learned a lot from my wife, who had a real knack for [training the dogs]. She was an excellent teacher,” he said.
Before the daycare opened, Broersma started a weekly dog walk in Sidecut Metropark that he continues today. Anyone can bring their dog for the group walk, which he says is a way to get to know other dog owners and learn walking techniques, and for the dogs to socialize.
“Once they start walking, all those noses going in the same direction, something amazing happens,” he said.
Socialization is a big part of A Walk in the Park. Broersma says the dogs learn from each other, and often those with behavior problems will go home better behaved. They take in area rescue dogs with behavior problems to train them and improve their chance of being adopted.
Owner and Canine stress
“It’s amazing the number of calls I get from people with problems with their dogs,” he said. “They don’t know how to get a handle on it, the dogs are stressed out, the people are stressed out.”
Broersma says sometimes the problems come from anxiety when dogs are left home alone while their owners work. He is trying to organize more public events to offer ways for owners and their dogs to spend more time together. These include the weekly walks, visits to the Perrysburg Farmers Market, and soon a “drink with your dog” night at Manhattan’s in Uptown.
And A Walk in the Park offers internships for students, teaching them how to groom and handle the dogs. Broersma says they’ve even hired some of the students.
The weekly walking group meets at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday, weather permitting, by the drinking fountain to the right of the playground in the Riverview Area.
1920 Indian Wood Circle, Maumee
419-475-4101 | awalkintheparkoftoledo.com