‘Kampers’ roam and relax at Kamp Kanine

By Kristina Houck

Play and sleep. Sleep and play. That’s a dog’s life at Kamp Kanine.

“They play; they take a nap. Then they all play and take a nap again,” said Denelle Smalley Curry, co-owner of the Encinitas-based day care center for dogs. “It’s pretty fun.”

For more than five years, Kamp Kanine has offered day care and boarding services for North County pooches. With almost an acre of cage-free space, the facility features nine large yards where “kampers” are placed in appropriate play groups with day care staff supervision.

“Our biggest asset is really our property,” said Smalley Curry, a Carmel Valley resident. “There’s not a lot of camps that have this much space for the dogs to run.”

Bonnie Rubin, along with Smalley Curry, opened Kamp Kanine next to the Rancho Coastal Humane Society. Located at 389 Requeza St., Rubin leases the space from Rancho Coastal and hosts Barktoberfest, a fundraiser for the Humane Society every year.

Rubin also co-owns John’s Natural Dog Training with her husband, John Rubin, who has offered private and group classes since 1990.

Smalley Curry became an intern at John’s Natural Dog Training while studying sociology and Spanish at UC San Diego. She had been taking her chocolate-colored Labrador retriever puppy, Kronk, to training classes.

“I asked them if I could intern and they let me,” said Smalley Curry, who worked as a trainer at John’s Natural Dog Training for 10 years. “I never left. I’ve been with them ever since.”

She and Bonnie Rubin now have 18 employees that care for roughly 100 dogs from 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at Kamp Kanine.

In addition to day care and boarding services, Kamp Kanine offers baths, field trips and obedience training for additional fees. The facility recently opened an agility yard and now offers agility classes on Saturdays.

“Every dog that comes here comes a minimum of once a week,” said Smalley Curry, whose four dogs, Kronk, Spanky, Pac Man and Jaws, are frequent kampers. “We try not to think of it as a babysitting service. All these dogs know each other. Our counselors know them. We really focus on cohesive pack dynamics and socialization.”

Kamp Kanine offers pick-up and drop-off services, discount packages and multi-dog discounts.

“It’s a strong family business with family ethics,” Smalley Curry said. “We care about every dog like they are our own.”

For more information, call 760-207-5267, email or visit