Nurturing the Bond Between Dogs and Humans
Dec 28, 2014 10:32AM
● By Gisele Siebold
For Barb Emmett, owner of Godfrey’s Welcome to Dogdom, in Mohnton, dogs are family, and for very good reasons. She explains, “Scientific research validates the therapeutic effects and benefits of human/canine relationships; they can improve our quality of life and overall well-being.”
In 1998, Barb and her husband, Pat, brought home their first golden retriever puppy. Seeking to raise a healthy, happy, well-adjusted dog, Barb’s intellectual curiosity guided her to research canine wellness, exercise, socialization and the availability of quality nutritional products. She also studied off-leash dog parks throughout the United States, gathered testimonials from well-respected national trainers and animal behaviorists supporting the need for off-leash socialization and visited an off-leash dog park in California.
Enlisting the support of 15 fellow dog lovers that served as volunteer board members, Barb formed a group that proposed an off-leash dog park to the Berks County Parks Department and county commissioners. When their efforts were unsuccessful, Barb shifted her attention to other dog-related interests and issues.
Around that time, she and Pat learned about the plight of homeless golden retrievers, and they became volunteers at Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue (DVGRR), a nonprofit that places golden retrievers, goldendoodles and golden mix dogs into new homes throughout eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Pat co-chaired a capital campaign to raise funds to purchase a permanent DVGRR shelter facility, and Barb designed the Rainbow Bridge Memorial Garden on the campus and led its installment team.
After these hands-on experiences, Barb was ready to create her own vision based on her canine research and belief in the importance of off-leash canine socialization. “My vision was to make a place for all dog lovers to celebrate the dogs in our lives: to create a beautiful yet comfortable environment where fellow dog lovers could shop for high-quality, unique dog-themed items that would make both dog lovers and the dogs themselves smile,” relates Barb. “I wanted it to offer super premium dog foods, holistic supplements and healthy treats, and to be a place where dog parents could share stories with others, attend events with their dogs and have fun. My vision became reality when I opened the doors to Godfrey’s in July 2004.”
Godfrey’s Dogdom is a picturesque, four-acre property that includes off-leash dog parks for members only and a renovated, decorated barn boutique with fun and extraordinary gifts. Gourmet treats, dining stations, glassware and dishware for dogs and people can be found in the Whining and Dining Room, where a glass-door freezer houses raw foods and dog ice cream. Dog faces carved into the wooden arms of a wing chair invite visitors to relax in the cozy Living Room and shop for handcrafted items. In the Bedroom, customers will find comfy lounge wear and an assortment of T-shirts and sweatshirts for humans, as well as sweaters and beds for dogs. Natural dental care and bathing products can be found in the Bathroom/Spa Room. Adventure and outdoor apparel, leashes and backpacks are displayed in the Out and About Room.
Godfrey’s also offers services including wellness and conditioning programs, sport classes and nutrition counseling. The Events page on the website lists specialty workshops and seminars offered throughout the year. Pat manages the Godfrey’s training school, Dog is Family K9 (DIFK9) Training, with a curriculum that includes Puppy Socialization, Obedience, Agility, Flyball and other specialty classes.
Barb produces and hosts a television show, Dog is Family, that features topics related to sharing life with dogs; it is aired on BCTV-Comcast cable channel 15 from 7 to 7:30 p.m., the second Thursday of every month.
In 2015, Barb and Pat plan to focus on expanding the Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Services program (KPETS) in Berks County. Over the years, they have worked with Karen Gerth, the founder of KPETS Lancaster. The organization’s mission is to promote the healing and rehabilitation benefits of the animal/human bond. With their two golden retrievers, Charlie and Lake, who are certified KPETS therapy dogs, Barb and Pat will bring the benefits of pet therapy to individuals and organizations in Berks County.
“Offering exceptional services and quality products for dogs and their humans fills my heart with joy,” Barb reflects. “My favorite quote from returning patrons is, ‘This is our happy place.’”
Gisele Siebold is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings magazine, Lancaster-Berks edition who lives in Lancaster.