Thoughtful Design Through and Through

Published in: Update - Issue 3 - 2015 »   

Special Features of the New Canine Development Center

Exterior shot of Canine Center showing the back entrance for breeding stock hosts

Litter Return Entrance

To say that a lot of thought went into the design of the new Canine Development Center would be an understatement. The truth is that a lot of people put a lot of careful consideration into every design element of the renovation.

Leader Dog team members were involved in every step of the design process. They worked alongside architects Animal Arts Design and Fusco, Shaffer & Pappas, Inc., to ensure that the new facility will provide the environment necessary to increase the mental and physical health of our dogs without going over budget.

In late October of 2015 we began moving dogs and people into Phase 1 of the new Canine Center. This movement clears the way to start work on Phases 2 and 3. Phase 1 of the building has many great features that can be categorized into four distinct areas:

  • Safety
  • Health
  • Cost savings
  • Leader Dog customized

Puppy Area

Puppies in the new Canine Center inside and outside by the open garage door in the puppy area

Puppy Bays

Caring for the smallest future Leader Dogs is a lot of fun but also a lot of work! One important design feature of the new puppy area are the low-walled, dual-sided puppy bays that allow for cleaning one side of the bay while the litter plays, sleeps or eats in the other.

Three of the bays include access to outdoor play pens via glass-paneled overhead doors. To keep puppies from being injured by a lowering door, doors can only be lowered by a person manually pressing the “down” button. When the button is released, the door immediately stops lowering. Door sensors like many people have in their homes cannot be used because the puppies would be able to reach them and most likely chew on them. Puppies will be puppies.

A young female Leader Dog employee presses a button to lower a glass tiled garage door in the puppy area

Overhead Doors

All puppy bay entries have custom-made Dutch-door gates that fully open to let puppies through or allow staff to open only the top portion to easily step over the gate without worrying about puppy “escapes.”

Puppy bays are equipped with LDB-designed feeding pens that fold tight against the wall when not in use and manually open and lock into place for feeding time. Each pen is large enough for a puppy and a food bowl. Puppies are taught in their breeding host home that they must sit to be fed. This practice is continued at Leader Dog, so as each puppy sits, it is picked up and placed into a pen with its food. It’s amazing how quickly puppies learn this impulse control skill in order to be fed.

A young female Leader Dog employee pulls a set of connected low walls on hinges away from a low wall in the puppy area. The connected boxes open to form individual stalls for puppies to eat in

Puppy Feeding Pen

A new litter return entrance was incorporated into the building solely for the use of breeding hosts who are returning puppies. Puppies will be kept isolated in this area until they are examined by Leader Dog’s breeding specialist to make sure they do not have a cough or viral illness before joining the general population.

Veterinary Clinic

The veterinary clinic had to be designed to meet many of the same standards as human hospitals. These standards are to ensure the well-being of the dogs and the safety of the people working in the area. For instance, the X-ray room has lead-lined walls, a 4.5” thick concrete pad above the ceiling and specially sealed lead-lined doors to protect against radiation leaks.

The surgical suite has a specially built pass-thru window that is used to send specimens and equipment into and out of the suite during surgeries. Because only one side of the pass-thru is open at a time, the sterile integrity of the suite in maintained.

Throughout the Facility

Photo of the floor in the Canine Center showing a large print inlaid in the floor

Cementitious Resin Floors

When it comes to dogs, high humidity is not only uncomfortable, it tends to give them more ear infections and acute moist dermatitis (hot spots). To maintain a low humidity level in the Canine Center, equipment and materials that would help reduce the amount of water needed for cleaning were chosen.

Several clinical sinks were installed in Phase 1 for fecal waste disposal (they will also be included in Phases 2 and 3). Waste is scooped and flushed down the clinical sink and the floor just needs spot cleaning with disinfectant. This process greatly reduces the amount of water needed for waste disposal and will reduce both humidity levels and our water bill.

Photo of a wide white sink attached to a wall near a hose and some kennels in the background

Clinical Sink

Humidity will be further reduced by introducing air conditioning to the entire facility. In addition, the HVAC systems can circulate up to 100% outside air, which is healthier than indoor air that can be two to five times more polluted than outside air.

Choosing flooring to use throughout the entire Canine Center required a lot of research. The design team visited hospitals, kennels and veterinary clinics to see various types of flooring and find out firsthand how well it holds up under heavy use and how easy it is to maintain. The product chosen, cementitious resin, is a permanent floor that is 100% waterproof. It is non-porous which means that unlike concrete, there aren’t any holes for bacteria to grow, so it promotes a much healthier environment. Another benefit of cementitious resin is that is does not need to be re-sealed like concrete, saving us both time and money.

Close-up photo of a numbered keypad on a wall with buttons for 60, 30, 15, 10, 5, and 2 minutes, with an on/off button at the bottom

Programmable Switches

As many people experience in their own home, the ability to have 24/7 control over lighting and temperature can save a lot of electricity and reduce energy costs. This is why control zones for lights and temperature were included throughout all three phases of renovation. Occupancy sensors turn lights on automatically in areas with a lot of human movement but limited canine movement, such as food prep areas. If movement is not detected for a predetermined amount of time, lights will automatically turn off.

In areas with a lot of canine movement, programmable switches allow people to preset a specific amount of time before lights automatically turn off.