Skip to main content

North Hills Monthly

Lucky Paws’ Staff Sets Pet Resort Apart

Nov 30, 2017 01:16PM ● By Vanessa Orr

: The Stanley Cup visits the staff of Lucky Paws Pet Resort. Photo courtesy of Brianna Lynn Design and Photo.

When you drop your pet off for doggie daycare or boarding, you want it to be a happy experience for the animal. At Lucky Paws Pet Resort, it can also be rewarding for the owner. 

“It’s the highlight of my day; I love it when I drop Willie off and get to look in the window at 40 dogs of different sizes and breeds all playing together,” said Brian Cohen, who has been taking his German shorthaired pointer to the pet resort for the past three years. “He jumps out of the car and runs in the door—he definitely gets excited.

“The people here are really nice; they make all of the difference,” Cohen added. “When my last dog passed away, we were all in tears. They hurt as much as I did because they really bond with your pet. What better place to leave them?”

Gretchen Fieser purchased Lucky Paws in January 2014 after working for 12 years for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. In addition to luxury boarding services, the resort includes doggie daycare, a dog park, a salon and spa and training programs. And then there’s the pool.

“No one does doggie daycare like we do,” said Fieser. “We have a 23,000-gallon, zero-entry saltwater pool open from May through October that gives the dogs a great place to splash and play, and even learn how to swim,” she said. “We also have a lot of room, because we want dogs to be outside and active; and we don’t mind them getting wet.”

Cathy Stechschulte’s 5-1/2 year old Lab, Rosie, doesn’t mind being wet either. “As soon as we walk in the door, her whole body starts wagging,” said Stechschulte. “She loves that she can run freely and play with other dogs, and she loves playing in the pool.”

Pets staying in the Pet Hotel have a little more structured schedule, with all of their activities including play time, snuggle time, daycare or a massage, mapped out the day before. “This maximizes staff time spent with the animals and assures the owners that nothing will be missed while they are away,” said Fieser of the facility that boards both dogs and cats. “For example, first potty is by 6:30 a.m., followed by breakfast and outside time. The dogs go outside for bathroom breaks a minimum of seven times a day.”

Both Cohen and Stechschulte take advantage of all of the services provided at the resort, including grooming and training. “It’s so wonderful to have everything in one place, and the facility is just beautiful; it’s always clean and well-maintained,” said Stechschulte.

Lucky Paws’ groomers specialize in challenging breeds like doodles. “They are true animal lovers, and spend a lot of time with the dogs, especially those that are nervous or unsure,” said Fieser. “Once people try them once, they don’t go anywhere else.”

The training classes are also very popular, and range from basic obedience classes for puppies to therapy dog classes and scent training. “Training is a great way to bond with a dog, and it’s also a great way to tire them out using their brains instead of their muscles,” said Fieser.

Dr. John Osheka, who works with a canine search and rescue group, teaches the scent class. The dogs learn to detect three distinct smells—birch, clove and anise—which are put on cotton swabs and placed in boxes. The dogs are rewarded when they correctly identify a scent. “They indicate that they have found the scent, and when that happens, there’s a big party and they get a reward,” laughed Osheka.

He added that any breed of dog can learn to do this. “I’ve taught golden retrievers, German shepherds and beagles to do it, and also a little corgi, who was just tremendous. He was a riot,” said Osheka, adding that age is also not an issue. 

Cohen’s dog, Willie, was uncomfortable around people he didn’t know, so Krista, a Lucky Paws’ trainer, worked with him to desensitize him to those types of situations. “She spent a lot of time bringing him into the lobby and getting him used to unfamiliar people, and now he’s to the point that I can take him to work with me,” said Cohen, adding that Krista even provided training in his own office. 

While most dogs adjust well to the attention they receive, all animals (and their people) take part in an interview process before staying at the daycare. “It’s important to know that not every dog is meant for daycare; like some people, dogs can be antisocial and not enjoy being around others. We want to make sure that it doesn’t cause them more stress,” said Fieser.

Lucky Paws also works to lessen stress on owners by allowing them to leave dogs for half-days or full days, and doesn’t have a specific drop-off or pick-up time. “We are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and they can come and go at any time,” said Fieser. “We try to be as flexible as possible to fit into our clients’ schedules.”

And while all of these amenities are nice, what truly makes Lucky Paws stand out is its pet-loving staff. “The prerequisite for everyone we hire is that they must love dogs,” said Fieser. “They have to be willing to get their hands dirty or to get a little wet; it’s not about sitting on a couch throwing a ball. We do a lot of enrichment activities—like blowing bubbles for the dogs—that not only give them exercise, but keep them interested and excited to be here.”

“I like everything about the facility, but the staff for me is what’s most important,” said Stechschulte. “They’re friendly and professional, and they really interact with the dogs. I’ve had four Labs, and I can say that this is the best experience for pet care outside of our own family.”

To learn more about Lucky Paws Pet Resort, call 724-728-1484 or visit  The resort is located at 2273 Lovi Road in Freedom, PA.