I am very grateful we found Solo Dogs! Jill Olkoski offers a one-of-a-kind experience for dogs and their humans. Before we heard about Jill, my husband and I were unable to go on vacation since we couldn’t find appropriate care for our dog-reactive rescue dog, Ebony.
From the first moment we walked through the door, Jill catered to Ebony’s fears as she explored her home and yard. After Ebony was satisfied, Jill got down on the floor to make a formal introduction. Ebony fell in love with Jill and is always excited to see her.
Jill went above and beyond to alleviate our near neurotic fears for Ebony’s well-being during boarding. For instance, I worried that Ebony would think we were abandoning her. Jill quickly offered to take her for a couple of evening visits without us so Ebony could see that we were always coming back for her.
Jill handles all of Ebony’s special needs (reactivity, anxiety, allergies, medications) with compassion and ease. I am ecstatic that we are now able to go on vacation – guilt free – knowing that Ebony is in the care of someone who joyfully delivers the same level of safety, care, and compassion that we provide.
As an added bonus, Jill offers tremendous peace of mind by sending daily videos, pictures, and text messages. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand (reassuring and delightful) words!
A home away from home for my dogs…
Jill recently watched both of my special needs weims, Tillie a senior dog and Hudson a shy, reactive dog. With two very different special needs dogs, trusting someone to provide the necessary care and attention for each was near impossible until I found Jill. Dealing with Jill and Solo Dogs has been delightful, start to finish; from the prompt responses to my initial inquires, flexibility with scheduling, and openness to boarding two dogs, one who is wary of strangers, to picking up my dogs because we left before she was available, as well as picking up medications, bathroom rugs for traction, and mattress covers for pee leaks, Jill does it all. I initially went into our meet and greet hopeful that this was the boarding situation I had always dreamed of for my family and returned home from my trip realizing it was that and more.
During our meet and greet she spent 3 hours getting to know my dogs and asking me questions to ensure she could provide the safest environment for them. Jill was a pro when meeting Hudson, who is not fond of strangers. I had provided introduction suggestions and while most people laugh, Jill completely understood. I approached with Hudson, while she sat on the floor with her head down and bananas in hand (one of his favorite treats) waiting for him to approach her. Needless to say she quickly gained the trust of both my dog and I.
Not only does Jill take the time to understand your dog and their needs, she also takes steps to improve or modify her spaces to best accommodate them. Within a day, she understood the bond between my dogs and determined ways to facilitate them being close together while also meeting their other needs – confinement for Tillie who has both mobility and incontinence issues and access to the yard for Hudson.
Jill’s past experience with senior dogs also leaves her with a true understanding and appreciation of old dogs, even the not so glamorous parts like pee and poop. I was extremely worried that Tillie’s incontinence would cause damage to Jill’s house or constantly cleaning up would become a nuisance. Jill was extremely patient and took it all in stride. She strategized different confinement options and then tried them all until she found one that kept Tillie happy and the house clean. Many of Jill’s solutions were also immediately useful at home.
Solo dogs is committed to providing the BEST care possible for your dog during the length of their stay as well as once they are home. Jill really went above and beyond expectations in almost every way during their stay and the steady stream of pictures and videos I received during the trip confirmed it. I highly recommend Jill and Solo Dogs to anyone with a special needs dog, who is looking for someone who treats boarded dogs like family. My family is finally able to travel without worry or hesitations.
Shannon O’Brien, M.S.
SoloDogs is a one of a kind experience for special needs dogs. Our dog Lucky, is a rescue Cocker Spaniel, who is very shy, fearful, and reactive with strangers, so boarding has always been a challenge.
When I first considered calling SoloDogs, I actually thought Lucky was too severe a case, with too many idiosyncrasies for anyone else but my wife and me to be expected to remember and fully respect. On the off chance that he would be approved, I gave Jill a call, and I think it was one of the best decisions I ever made on Lucky’s behalf. After a very in-depth phone conversation, followed by a detailed intake form, I already felt on the right track because Jill was asking for the specificity I often found myself insisting on telling to other boarding facilities in hopes that they would maybe retain half of it. That attention to detail present from the intake questionnaire onwards is something that truly sets Jill apart. She has told me again and again, the more details we provide her regarding his needs, the better!
As any owner of a fearful dog will tell you, first impressions are hugely important. When Lucky and I first met Jill, she did everything right. She gave him space as he explored the house and the yard, and allowed him to get used to it. Then she got down on his level, still maintaining deference, not looking at him, and then something pretty amazing happened. Instead of feeding him treats, my usual operating procedure with strangers, she gave him toys—her idea, not mine, and it worked like a charm, you could actually watch his suspicion decrease and the tail-wagging increase every time he returned to Jill to take another toy from her. By the time we left our first meeting, Lucky felt comfortable enough to fall asleep in the corner, surrounded by about a dozen toys, and Jill could move around freely without being barked at. But this is Jill’s greatest asset with these dogs, she is very intuitive and intelligent, thinks deeply about each dog based on it’s own individual situation and needs, and in doing so, comes up with things that make you say, “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?”
After a successful overnight where Lucky slept on Jill’s bed (never thought he would get that far), we went out of state for a week. Lucky had to be in a cone due to a few hotspots, and Jill managed this, as well as his medications, supplements, and very specific meal configurations perfectly.
I’ll never forget when we came to pick him up, and found them sitting in the sunshine, out in the garden, Jill scratching Lucky’s belly, Lucky’s blissed-out expression with his little white paw raised in the air. As we left, my wife lifted Lucky up, and he gave Jill several kisses, and had this moment where he placed his paw on her shoulder and just stared at her. I know he was saying thank you.
A common feeling, and frustration, of many owners of special needs/ reactive dogs, is “I just wish someone else could see my dog when he is just with me, at home, then they would know what a wonderful dog he is.” After multiple several-day visits, Lucky now sees Jill as one of family. He is excited to arrive, and sad to leave. When we get text and picture updates from Jill, and I see the same clownish, happy go Lucky behaviors as when he is at home with us. Nothing is better than that.
Solo Dogs is an amazing resource for dog owners and I have recommended Jill to many friends. Jill gives my dog Zeek personalized, first rate care and I know I can trust her completely when our family is out of town. Jill’s home and yard are so dog friendly – when we pull into her driveway, Zeek jumps out of the car, excited for the time he will spend at Solo Dogs with Jill.
Recently she cared for Zeek while he still had stitches in his head and on his abdomen from a recent surgery and her care was extraordinary. She even ordered a Comfy Cone for Zeek to replace the hard plastic “cone of shame” the vet provided – and had it delivered overnight – so that Zeek (and Jill’s legs and furniture) would be more comfortable during his stay. She noticed the hard plastic cone was a little short, and Zeek was licking and causing skin irritation. The new cone Jill got for Zeek really promoted quick healing!
Anna Deliganis, M.D.
Jill is very intentional in her dog boarding approach – from the comprehensive intake questionnaire, to the meet and greet and the trial overnight stay. Every step is designed to ensure that she gets to know the personality and needs of the individual dog. Her level of attention to detail is rarely found in a canine caregiver but necessary for keeping special needs dogs safe and happy. She delights in watching the dogs open as they get comfortable in her quiet environment.
I know many of Jill’s dog clients from my Ahimsa Dog Training classes and private lessons. I see how truly relaxed they can be when I see pictures of them at Jill’s home – stretched out and snoozing on Jill’s bed, exploring her back yard and playing with new toys. Several of my clients have used Jill’s Solo Dogs boarding services and have been so pleased that they promptly booked more vacations! My clients tell me how confident they are with their dogs in Jill’s care and how grateful they are to have found her. They can now take a vacation with worrying about how their dog will do while they are away.
Wynona Karbo, CBATI/CPDT-KA Owner of Ahimsa Dog Training in Seattle. Wynona has a degree in Experimental Psychology and specializes in the prevention and rehabilitation of dogs with fear and aggression. Wynona is a co-host of “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs” on KIRO 97.3 FM.
I had the pleasure of first meeting Jill in July 2014. Jill had contacted me to begin in-home acupuncture treatments for her dog Sagan, who was 13 years old at the time and had experienced a vestibular episode, which impacted her balance and mobility. As I entered her home, I was amazed at how Jill configured her house and outdoor space to provide a safe, positive environment for Sagan. As I learned more about Sagan and her history of being dog-reactive, I truly began to appreciate the efforts Jill took to keep her secure and happy.
Over the next 15 months, I had many opportunities to visit Sagan and Jill. As Sagan’s physical and medical needs shifted over time, Jill made whatever accommodations were necessary to keep her mobile, comfortable, and safe. Jill was very dedicated to Sagan’s needs and I have every bit of confidence that this dedication extends to the dogs in her care through Solo Dogs. Jill is calm, attentive, and loving. I cannot imagine a better situation for a special needs dog who requires that extra level of care and security. I recommend Jill and Solo Dogs without reservation!
Dr Sara Render Hopkins DVM, CVADr Hopkins owns Compassion4Paws which specializes in In-Home Veterinary Acupuncture, Hospice & Euthanasia Services.