South Charlotte

Her job has really gone to the dogs

As the youngest of four children, Debbie Vitale, 45, is not featured in a lot of family photos. Those that do include her, however, inevitably capture her cuddling one or more of the family's four dogs.

"I have always been a dog lover," said Vitale, which is a good thing since her current job actually has that as one of its requirements.

"If I could have written up an ideal job description for me, it would be this job," she said.

Her position as the Camp Scout, akin to the director of marketing and public relations, for Camp Bow Wow Charlotte Metro, a 7,500-square-foot doggy day and overnight camp, is "a perfect fit."

The first perk of the job is that Vitale gets to bring her own dogs - Nikkie and Ollie, two Newfoundlands who weigh a combined 350 pounds - to work with her.

Nikkie and Ollie had to first pass the initial interview that all canine boarders - both day and overnight - are given before they are allowed to stay.

Trained counselors look for signs of aggression and introduce new dogs to both same sex and opposite sex dogs to ensure they can get along with them both.

Depending on a dog's size and temperament, one of several options awaits each canine guest.

Play areas of various sizes, all of which lead to an outdoor area, are available in addition to private rooms and the teacup room for dogs weighing 10 pounds or less.

Cameras are set up throughout the facilities so that the dogs' owners can check on them, via their cell phones or computers, any time they wish.

"It is totally addictive," Vitale said of the doggie cam, adding that a daily report card (D-Tails) on each dog's day is also provided to clients.

A full day of canine fun at Camp Bow Wow costs $26, while a half day costs $16. Overnight services cost $40 but include the day of drop off and the day of pick up. Grooming and training services are also available for additional charges and rates drop when more than one dog is dropped off.

Vitale, a graduate of Boston College who grew up in Charlotte, also promotes Camp Bow Wow throughout town, visiting dog parks and animal rescue events, handing out bandanas and treats.

She often generates buzz when she pulls up in the Doggie Day Care van that is adorned with a wrap featuring several adorable dogs.

"I get to combine my love of people with my love of dogs and talk about something I'm passionate about," Vitale said.

That includes Camp Bow Wow's mission to foster dogs through Project Halo and other rescue groups and put them up for adoption.

Part of Vitale's job is to get to know the clients so she can post twitter feeds and updates about them on Facebook.

For a dog lover like Vitale, that comes easy. She enjoys her job, which she has playfully rephrased "barketing and puplic relations," but interacting with the canine clients is her favorite part.

Camp Bow Wow promises its boarders "a Dog Gone Good Time," but the same could be said for its employees.

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