I am an unrepentant lover of dogs. Unfortunately, work and life interfere with the great joy of watching them have a full-tilt good time, which is why I believe in dog day care.

My dogs spend time with dog friends and humans in a safe place where they can play or relax, whichever their hearts' desire, while I deal with human issues. When I have to travel without them, they sleep in suites, play with friends all day and get breakfast and dinner in bed. Lucky.

If day care or overnight boarding are on your radar, here are some questions to get you started as you search for the right place.

Is the facility clean? Of course there are busy times, and there may be muddy paw prints, but the place should be generally well kept, and any accident must be cleaned up and disinfected immediately.

Can I take a tour? Check out the play and food prep areas, the boarding runs and where dogs relieve themselves. How often do dogs go out for bathroom breaks? How does the staff handle medication? What can I bring when my dog is boarding? What is the facility's procedure in case there's an accident and my dog is hurt?

Does the facility match what my dog needs? High-energy dogs and shy dogs should have separate places to enjoy their respective personalities. Good day care and boarding facilities put together different play groups and lodging arrangements to match the energy and social needs of the dogs in their care, and will find a good fit for your dog.

Are the staff happy to be there? If the people are impatient or seem overly annoyed with answering questions, they aren't enjoying their work.

What's the ratio of humans to dogs? Look for a ratio of 1 person per 15 dogs.

Almost all dogs can benefit from day care, but it takes a little homework on our part to set everyone up for success. Let them snooze or wrestle the stuffing out of each other by day, and you will reap the rewards of a happy, tired, fulfilled dog in the evening.

Ann Warren is a St. Paul-based writer and editor. Her dogs enjoy days and nights at Dog Days of St. Paul. dogdaysinc.com

What's on your mind?
We'd like to hear it. For writer's guidelines, go to www.womenspress.com. Email your 450-word personal essay to editor@womenspress.com.