Picture it: You begin the work day with a face-to-face client meeting, but the moment your clients exit their cars, they're charging at you, smiling ear-to-ear and drooling in anticipation of what the day will bring. That's the everyday reality for Darrious Thomas, and he makes no bones about it.
The driver of Canine Country Club’s Bark Bus, a chauffeur service that picks up pooches in The Heights and west Little Rock for doggy daycare, Thomas is a military veteran and dog-lover who's set on doing this job as long as he can.
Thomas makes his first Bark Bus pick up at Panera Bread at 7 a.m., and then he’s off to Sissy’s Log Cabin where another group of excited dogs will be ready to board at 7:30 a.m.
“They see the bus and they’re like, ‘Oh, we gotta go’ and they’re dragging their owners halfway across the parking lot to get in and get a treat,” Thomas says. “The owners trust me because they know I love their dogs and they know I’ll take care of them.”
It’s a convenient service for dog-lovers who want their pet to get some exercise and socialization. Thomas notes his perfect driving record — not even as much as a parking ticket — as he safely escorts his crew of 10-15 who ride comfortably in their individual crates.
He knows his passengers well. “Some are laid back like Brother, he’s quiet. Tux barks when you open the door, but he’s harmless. When Max Barnett gets out of his car, he spins around in circles and flies into the bus waiting on his treat. And little Leo, most of the time he’s pottying and running to the van at the same time, he’s so excited. When we pull up to the club, they all bark out-of-this-world-volcanic-crazy because they know where they are and they’re ready to play,” Thomas laughs.
After a day of romping across four-and-a-half acres, swimming in the in-ground pool and a nap or two, the Bark Bus riders head home for the day. One excited morning pup, Duchess, is almost as ready for the ride home.
“I have to grab Duchess when I drop her off in the evening because she’s so excited to see her mom, she jumps at her,” Thomas says. “She’s had a fun day, but she’s ready to go home, and we’ll do it all again tomorrow.”
With that, Thomas and the canines call it a day, knowing what fun tomorrow holds.
Canine Country Club’s Bark Bus runs Monday - Friday. For information on reservations, doggy daycare and boarding, visit the Canine Country Club website.