Top Dog Country Club is celebrating 20 years of puppy vacations.
Rates are all-inclusive. Guests are treated to freshly-baked biscuits and luxuriate at the 39-acre country setting, 6,100-square-foot clubhouse, heated outdoor swimming pool, kiddie pools, wooded nature trail, senior sanctuary garden and more.
Evenings, guests retire to their air-conditioned, air-purified suites, featuring faux-stone heated floors, nine-foot ceilings, 24-hour music (classical, blues and jazz), soft lighting, upholstered orthopedic mattresses and a bedtime snack.
For additional fees, guests can indulge in massages, swim therapy, photography and—sheep herding. Hold on. Sheep herding? We’re not talking about just any high-end resort for you or me. This is Top Dog Country Club in New Germany, where dogs are treated like, well, kings—and have a chance to hone their herding chops, too!
Before opening Top Dog, Jean Stelten-Beuning was a vice president with Marriott Hotels, which required weekly travel. On one occasion, her dog sitter canceled, and she was forced to kennel her dogs. “It was a terrible experience, and so I went to work developing the concept of a vacation club for dogs, spent 10 years planning it—before I had the guts to leave my fancy corporate life,” she says. “That was 20 years ago, and I have never regretted it a single day.”
Stelten-Beuning designed Top Dog to be a place where she would be comfortable bringing her own dogs. “In my view, dogs represent the best of us,” she says.
“ … They give incredibly and make our lives so much richer … for that, they deserve every comfort and lots of fun.”
While the stay is enjoyable, drop off can be another matter. “Sometimes well-intentioned dog parents create separation anxiety in their dogs,” Stelten-Beuning says. “When they get emotional and overreact when dropping their dogs off, the dog reads their energy, senses their anxiety, and that makes the dog upset. [The] best advice is to keep it short, sweet and upbeat. Tell the dog, ‘Have fun, Bailey, and I will see you soon,’ and walk away. The dog reads this as, ‘OK … mom is cool, and I’m at camp.’”
Top Dog and other boarding businesses have been affected by COVID-19 restrictions. “Dog boarding relies nearly 100 percent on people’s ability, willingness and desire to travel,” Stelten-Beuning says. “We have gotten creative with more daycare and pickup and delivery options and with our training program. Because of our location, our large property and our services, we are able to operate with few restrictions and keep everyone safe.”
Due to issues related to COVID-19, plans to celebrate Top Dog Country Club’s 20th anniversary during a September open house at the club in New Germany have been pushed back to Sept. 25, 2021.
Planned events included a canine wellness fair, facility tours, food trucks, pet trust education and Top Dog sound art and training demonstrations. Music at the Pond, featuring Nashville music star Jeff Dayton, food trucks and beer and wine were also in the lineup.
The event was to feature a live auction to benefit the Top Dog Foundation, which has a special place in Stelten-Beuning’s dreams. “The future for Top Dog is that it will someday be owned by Top Dog Foundation and will fund a sanctuary for dogs that have been deemed unadoptable due to age and health … a Top Dog Country Club-style home for them to live out their lives,” Stelten-Beuning says. “Top Dog revenues will fund the rescue of these ElderPups and the people who love them.”