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October 12, 2013

Area facility gives every dog its day

By Cathy B. Koplen Contributing writer
The Daily Star

---- — Tucked in a knoll at the foot of a ridge in East Meredith is a canine-care facility that treats dogs as if they were children.

Coyote Hill: Dog Grooming, Boarding and More is the actualized dream of entrepreneur Sarah Cummings. Dog-care packages include options such as a dog-themed movie after snack time, soothing music during kennel time, wading in a small pool in the warmer months and hikes along nearby mountain trails.

“I really enjoy my dogs and I love being around them,” Cummings said. “I have always done something that involves dogs. They are really my passion.”

Cummings is a veterinarian assistant. She also is active with therapy dogs as well as canine rescue and a foster program. Coyote Hill was created in 2012 to reflect Cummings’ understanding of dogs.

“Look at this little guy here. Pebbles is a rescued pit bull,” Cummings said. “So many times pit bulls get bad reputations — some communities have even forbidden people to have them. Yet those dogs were bred to babysit little children who were left at home while the mother and father had to be out in the fields harvesting. They are gentle and loving by nature. But they are loyal and people have exploited that and trained them to be mean.”

Before moving back to her grandmother’s home in East Meredith, Cummings worked at a veterinarian clinic in Troy. She saw numerous pit bulls at the clinic and began to foster-home the animals. She is an active member of Out of the Pits, an organization that seeks to educate the public about the American Pit Bull Terrier in addition to rescuing and rehabilitating dogs that are in need.

“Pit bulls who are used to fight either have been trained to fight or they have not been socialized,” Cummings said. “You have to socialize your dog; they have to learn how to get along well with others. Training programs are great for that, or bring them to doggy daycare.”

Cummings also works with a border collie rescue. She has two rescued border collies that she works in agility competitions. They are therapy dogs as well, and Cummings takes them to visit retirement homes and hospitals. In addition, Cummings has a couple of pit bulls and a cat in residence. 

“Dogs were bred for a purpose and they liked to be worked,” Cummings said. “You have to know your breed and be able to provide the stimulation that dog needs. My border collies can’t help it, they have to herd, and so agility training is great for them. They like to get direction and perform tasks.”

Cummings believes that a busy dog is a happy dog. They like to interact with their people. It is also important for dogs to become socialized to other people and dogs. She advocates puppy kindergarten and dog owners pursuing the American Kennel Club’s ‘Canine Good Citizen’ certificate.

Coyote Hill is equipped with a modern grooming station built as an addition to the back of Cummings’ house. There is a sizable run full of dog toys. Inside, carpeted kennel boxes face a television that shows dog-themed programs. Throughout the house there are treat jars in strategic locations.

“It really is a passion,” Cummings said. “I have studied the behavior of dogs and I know when they are happy, and that is when they are living a comfortable, balanced and healthy life.”

For more information on Coyote Hill, call 437-9607 or visit coyotehilldog.com.