When David Adamonis and his wife first took their chocolate lab Ellie to a doggie day camp, the concept of dog daycare was foreign to them. “We’ve always had a dog and we were the ones who provided the exercise, the stimulation,” Adamonis explains. But Ellie had endless energy; it didn’t matter if the couple spent an hour before and after work, and even during lunch break, to play with her – it just wasn’t enough. So, when a friend recommended Camp Bow Wow in Bellingham, they decided to give it a go.
That evening, driving home a tuckered pup, Adamonis’ wife turned to him with the idea of starting up their own dog daycare. At first, Adamonis laughed – his wife had a full-time job at her family business and he was the executive director of a junior golf organization. But the idea stuck, and after initially exploring a mom-and-pop model, Adamonis decided to go bigger. He pitched the franchise concept to friends and soon-to-be business partners Paul Butler and Wes Skorski, and in May of 2016, the trio opened their own Camp Bow Wow location in West Warwick.
Adamonis describes Camp Bow Wow as a “one-stop shop” when it comes to dog care: They offer daycare, boarding, training, and even grooming services. Pet parents can check in via live webcam feeds, known as Camper Cams, to see their pups frolicking with friends inside their spacious, climate-controlled play areas, which even boast an air purification system. It’s like an all-inclusive stay for your dog (including flexible check-in/out times!) without any of the surprise additional fees.
“Our motto is ‘Where a dog can be a dog!’” says Adamonis, who jokes that he has thousands of dogs because he considers each one that passes through one of his own. “We want dogs to be excited to come here, have fun being here, and be conked out by the time they hit Route 2.”
According to Adamonis, in early 2020 they were averaging 100 dogs per day. When lockdown started, it was a huge hit to the industry: Working from home and limited travel meant pet parents didn’t have the same need for dog daycare. However, with fewer cases, vaccine rollout, and slow return to the office and vacations beyond state borders, Camp Bow Wow has seen a considerable uptick in customers coming back these last few months.
“I like to think of us as an extension of the community,” adds Adamonis, who tries to involve Camp Bow Wow locally in as many ways as possible, whether it’s sponsoring a Little League baseball team, donating to a charitable drive, or partnering with local rescues. He’s particularly eager to resume their annual Adopt Till You Drop event, where shelters bring their adoptable dogs for attendees to meet and (hopefully) take home. Adamonis looks forward to the potential of bringing the annual event back this fall.
In the five years of running Camp Bow Wow, Adamonis reflects on his favorite parts: Watching the dogs grow up as they return year after year, seeing pet owners become friends after their pups have, and interacting with countless dogs each and every day.
“Dogs unfortunately don’t have the same lifespan as we do, and people can lose perspective of that,” says Adamonis. “I come in here every day and it keeps me in check. I’m like hey, we’re lucky to have them as long as we do…they’re here to have some fun, and we try to make it a good place for them.”
Camp Bow Wow • 3 Keyes Way, West Warwick • 401-250-3595