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The Beast Masters

The Beast Masters

146 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
347 815 1075
8am-9pm Everyday

The 1982 film The Beast Master spotlights a hero who saves the world with his ability to communicate with animals. The movie is a perfect namesake for this downtown doggy daycare, which only hires people with a seemingly superhuman ability to figure out what dogs need and want. Unlike other kennels that simply act as drop off locations for city dogs, the Beast Masters offers a range of services, each tailored to accommodate the needs of every individual dog. The company is open seven days a week, with at least one caretaker present twenty-four hours a day. Founder Adam Romsdahl claims that this is not a job, but a way of life.

Adam sat down with Julia, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, to discuss all the things that make the Beast Masters “not a typical day care.” Bailey, a small black and white terrier-chihuahua mix stationed himself in her lap while he spoke. Tied to a tree in the midst of Hurricane Katrina, Bailey was rescued by Tyler Kent, Adam’s partner in the kennel, and holds the title of “the littlest Beast Master.” Tyler and Adam have been friends since high school, when they realized their mutual hatred for playing on the football team. Both are certified dog trainers, vetted by the CCPDT, one of the world’s leading dog training certification companies. Their extensive experience is the basis for the company’s success with dog training.

As soon as Adam called him over, Bailey approached us, and he remained at ease during the entire interview. Bailey’s behavior exemplified that of each dog in the kennel: social and well trained. This is the product of the Beast Masters training methods and emphasis on “pack mentality,” a philosophy daycare centers rarely employ. Adam shared that socialized dogs tend to be happier, have better relationships with other dogs and humans, and be better trained on the leash. All members must get along to ensure a successful pack, which is why each dog – and its owner – must undergo an interview process before joining the kennel. Adam revealed that one can predict more about how the dog will interact with others by observing how the owner treats it than by watching the dog alone. Smiling, Adam stated, “I can get along with every dog, but I can’t get along with every human.”

Adam re-emphasized that this attention to individual needs sets the Beast Masters apart from other kennels, which often adopt a “one size fits all” approach. The Beast Masters take the dogs to grooming and vet appointments, administers meds, walk them, watch them over night, and pick up and drop off the dogs at their owners’ homes. While the dogs come into the group well-behaved, the caretakers aim to perfect any aspect of the dog’s behavior the owner may be concerned about. They also work to make dogs as comfortable as possible in their time at the kennel, ensuring they are familiarized with every staff member. “I want my dogs to know all my workers,” Adam stated. The Beast Masters staff consists of eight employees, each thoroughly dedicated to the animals. The pack mentality the dogs adhere to extends to the crew as well: “We’re not employed together; we’re in this together,” Adam shared.

Cohesion among the dogs is crucial to the daycare operating smoothly, as dogs are unconfined by cages and free to roam around as they please. “We don’t have cages, we have couches,” Adam said. The space consists of two sectors: the Ruckus Room and the Lounge. Dogs can trot around and play together in the Ruckus Room, or relax on one of the several leather couches in the Lounge. The space can hold a maximum of fifty dogs at a time, half of the up to one hundred dogs that cycle throughout the company any given week.

Dogs are split into smaller walking groups based on their needs. Dogs that walk at a slower pace will not be grouped with runners, and those who require shorter walks remain separate from the trail blazers. The caretakers also aim to secure their dogs’ comfort by eliminating “as many X factors as possible.” They do not go to dog parks or let strangers touch the dogs, as that jeopardizes the dogs’ assuredness.

Adam, who worked as the manager of the pet care department of PetSmart for seven years, shared the secret of training: “All social animals are similar; it’s just about finding the right motivation.” He explained that the biggest obstacle to communicating with dogs is what owners tend to do most often: anthropomorphize them. Owners get frustrated when they apply human sets of rules to dogs, which, in turn, makes the dogs aggressive and scared. “Things we hold as etiquette, we have to teach them.” This does not mean, however, that the Beast Masters coddle their animals; in fact, they utilize a method of negotiation. Adam elucidated his thought process towards the dogs, saying: “I’m gonna be me, and you’re gonna be you, but I’m on this end of the leash.” He finds that the most long-lasting results come from positive reinforcement and trust. Why does he love dogs so much? “A house without a dog is an empty house to me,” Adam admitted, and then went on to say, “There’s no reason not to love them.”