Noelle Nasca (left) and Kim Russell opened the The Barking Lot to share their training and care expertise, as well as their love of dogs.
HAMBURG — Kim Russell and Noelle Nasca are not only dog-lovers, but professional owners and trainers who opened The Barking Lot in Hamburg as a dog daycare, training facility and grooming go-to for area pups and their owners, with the professional experience they have gleaned from more than 25 years in the business and 24-hour immersion in the dog life, thanks to their own crops of canines at home.
“We do real-life training,” Nasca explained, “It’s motivational, reward-based training that’s applicable in real life. We focus on actual problems and what the dogs need to know, in everyday life.”
In addition, Russell specializes in flyball, a multi-dog relay sport in which dogs race against each other. She discovered the sport when her first dog, a mix named Oscar, was “crazy.
“He was just bouncing off the wall,” she said. The energetic, fast-paced game channeled that energy, and Russell got involved in training other dogs, everything from dachshunds to great danes, in the sport, as well.
“If your dog likes playing with toys, they’ll like flyball,” she said, noting that the sport is most popular in Ontario, but is gaining traction locally, as well.
The Barking Lot owners offer both mental and physical stimulation for the dogs, including problem-solving and door respect.
Nasca, a national association of dog training-certified trainer, has taught at multiple locations around the area. She first got involved in dog training as a teenager, and has been hooked, ever since. The trainer, who has four dogs of her own at home, has been training since 1995.
The Barking Lot also has a staff groomer, Paul Furlong who, “cuts the long fur,” according to the pair. The former band conductor at Eden Central Schools works on Tuesdays and Thursdays, although Nasca and Russell can take care of baths, nail trims and brush-outs, any day of the week.
The pair said that The Barking Lot specializes in special-needs dogs: Puppies who may not be socialized yet, dogs who “don’t fit” traditional dog daycare, that don’t fit the bill for large play groups at the dog park.
“We both have multiple dogs in our own households, so we know how to handle them in groups,” Russell explained. “What sets us apart is we’re more specialized. I don’t think anyone else around has the experience, that extra-special touch.”
“Our love of dogs is a given,” Nasca added. “But we have the experience and the safety training. It truly is an enrichment program for dogs. It’s great for people who work long hours, because the dog is already socialized when you get home. If you leave the dog at home all day, you get home and you’ve got 22,000 things to do and your dog is going nuts like, ‘What about me?’ We take care of not only the guilt of not paying enough attention to the dog, but the needs of the dog, himself,” she explained.
The owners said that even those who have not previously considered dog daycare may benefit from that aspect, since the dogs learn how to behave in social situations, as well as gain basic training skills that they may not learn as easily at home.
“We take care of mental stimulation as well as physical stimulation, with problem-solving, new environments constantly. We work on door respect when they’re coming in and out and they have rest time during the day, so they don’t get overstimulated. We help with guidance through social exchanges, because it’s easy for us to see through subtle body language, things only a professional might pick up on, what that dog needs.”
“I had a client come in who said that, after the first day he brought in his dog, the dog just lay down by his feet when he got home, rather than running around wanting to play,” Nasca said. “He said it was like he was a new dog, and it was the best evening they had ever had together. That’s what we want to give people: that peace of mind.”
The pair offers what Russell called a “custom-tailored” daycare for dogs, as well as that social training that can be helpful not only for the pet, but the owner’s peace of mind. In addition, Russell said she offers pet photography and as the business gets going, they plan to host seminars on various aspects of dog training and care.
After building the location from the ground up, Russell said they took pride in constructing it to their own specifications, for safety, security and optimal environment for what they wanted to offer their canine companions.
“We take pride in having a sincere drive to help with pet needs, as well as competitive training,” Nasca said. “Both are very near and dear to my heart, and I can appreciate both. My dogs are not just sport dogs, but sleep on my bed at home, too. For a lifetime, we’ve lived and breathed dogs.”
The Barking Lot opened the first week of June, and is located at 5640 Maelou Drive, off Legion Drive. The business is open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. for daycare, with training and grooming scheduled separately.
Russell and Nasca can be reached at 649-4109 or at www.thebarkinglotwny.com.