BY STEPHANIE WILLIAMS | PHOTO BY JENNIFFER MERIDA
Imagine a summer job where the words “Would you like fries with that?” or “Quit peeing in the pool!” will never escape a teen’s lips. Instead of longing to catch a beam of sunshine all summer toiling away at McBurgerTime, days are spent outside running and playing in rolling fields with plenty of sunscreen and Man’s Best Friend. Orchard Kennels, approaching its 20th anniversary serving canines throughout the greater Rochester area at its Walworth location, not only provides superior care and obedience training for large dogs (35 pounds and over, please!) but also has built a reputation as a safe and fun environment for animal-loving teens to foster the same attitude toward working that they would toward their personal leisure.
“There are plenty of kennels out there, but none of them I felt were adequate for large and extra large dogs. My biggest criteria for [the environment at Orchard Kennels] is that the dogs have fun and are treated as if they were my own,” says Deb Wolf, founder and owner of Orchard Kennels. “We let dogs be dogs here. Anyone who works here must understand this philosophy.”
The array of services Wolf provides for dogs is wide and varied – beyond a boarding facility for Border Collies, Greyhounds, Saint Bernards, and other large breeds, Wolf has grown her business into a grooming center (little pups are welcome), a retail facility displaying products Wolf can faithfully recommend to her clients, and a series of positive reinforcement-centered obedience training classes in partnership with Denali Dog Obedience Training. In addition to these services provided, Deb is an active figure in the local canine community, supporting local organizations from the Wayne County Humane Society and Walworth Recreation, to rescue and adoption initiatives through the Golden Retrievers Rescue Operated with Love Statewide, and the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of the Finger Lakes.
“I loved working at Orchard Kennels especially because it gave me the opportunity to play with dogs,” says Hannah Williams, 21, whose family did not allow dogs in the house growing up. She has accredited much of her current success as a nursing student to the season she spent working with Wolf.
“The job gave me a better sense of responsibility, taught me to have respect for all living things and helped me realize that I enjoy taking care of animals as well as people. When I finally get to own a dog myself, I’ll be able to apply what Deb taught me in regards to how to correctly control a dog without scaring or hurting him. She taught us basic obedience techniques to keep dogs from getting out of hand, while still allowing them to be themselves.”
Only previously working in a local burger chain with little variance from protocol, Hannah’s biggest takeaway from Orchard Kennels was the ability to breathe when faced with the unexpected. “Some of the dogs could be unpredictable – we worked with dogs who wouldn’t want to come back inside after playtime, and even had one who tried to escape the Kennel by jumping over a wooden barricade,” says Williams. “I would not have been able to resolve issues like this working by myself. These out of the ordinary experiences taught me so much about teamwork and how to think on my feet in the workplace in regards to adapting to different situations.”
Orchard Kennels, 1570 Walworth-Penfield Road (Route 441), Walworth
(315) 986-1605 – www.orchardkennels.com