In some areas of Virginia, if you haven’t
scheduled it weeks ahead you’ll have a hard time
finding a kennel to do you the favor of cramming
your dog or cat into a little cage for the
weekend. In Culpeper, you can make
arrangements for your pet at the last moment to
stay at a resort with indoor-outdoor runs,
group-play time, nature walks and swims,
cuddling on a couch, and obedience training.
When you get back from vacation, you can pick
Rex up from his vacation, and he may be better
trained than when you dropped him off.
Mountain Run Kennel offers these services
for a price, and the bill can add up. However, a
basic stay there without any extras is $10 – $18
per day (depending on the size of your pet) – not
much more than you’d pay for the cheapest
A PBS television feature on Mountain Run
Kennel some years ago described it as a
“five-star resort for dogs.” The show featured
Jane Kelso, the owner of Mountain Run. Kelso
grew up in Middleburg, taught English in
Mexico, produced Dutch television, and worked
as a medical technician in Nassau and as a
dairy-goat farmer in Connecticut before she first
saw dogs run in field trials. Kelso began training
retrievers, including two champions, and running
them in trials around the country. Eventually, in
1980, she settled down and opened a kennel.
Kelso devotes much of her time to breeding
Labrador Retrievers and training dogs, including
for the sport known as dog agility – in which
four-legged athletes run obstacle courses against
On the PBS show, Kelso talked about the
importance of nature walks for dogs who need
exercise. She’s seen walking with a half-dozen
dogs (no leashes) out past a pond on the kennel
property. Also on the program, we see
home-made dog biscuits being cooked, claws
being painted with fingernail polish, cats being
held and petted before a wood stove, and owners
bringing a dog’s toys from home along to help
her feel more comfortable.
These features are still available at Mountain
Run, with the exception of the claw painting. The
sign at the entrance to the place says “Boarding,
Grooming, Train-ing.” But grooming is no
longer done there. However, bathing is available.
Sheepskins are provided for dogs to sleep on,
as well as cookies and chew bones. But toys,
blankets, etc., can be brought from home. The
kennel asks that you bring a list of these items
along to help keep track of them. You should also
bring written proof of current vaccinations for
Sally Pomfret is the manager of the kennel.
She’s been there almost 8 years. Kelso now lives
in town, while Michelle Adams, an employee,
lives in the house on the property and takes care
of the animals at night. There are three other
full-time employees and two part-time.
According to Adams, the dogs are quiet at night
and just start barking in the morning. She says
living at a dog kennel is not at all the living hell
some people imagine it to be. “In the evening,
it’s like having double protection.” She has four
dogs of her own in the house.
The kennel is large and spotlessly clean.
During recent sweltering days, the doors to the
outside in each run have been closed in the
daytime and the air-conditioning kept on high.
There are kennels for 70 dogs, which is why it is
possible to call for a spot on short notice. Most
of the cages are indoor/ outdoor. Some are
outdoor only, which Pomfret said some dogs
prefer even in the winter. There are small
enclosures for the dogs to go into if they get
There is also an area with cages for cats and
very small dogs. The cats’ cages are also indoor/
outdoor, and include trees for them to climb.
One customer brings guinea pigs to the kennel,
Pomfret said, but otherwise only dogs and cats
are boarded there.
“A tired dog is a happy dog.”
Individual nature walks, up to two miles, are
available for dogs, large or small, who need
exercise. Group play allows dogs to socialize
with the other residents of the inn. A large,
fenced yard is equipped with balls, a sand pile,
ramps, a wading pool, and even humans for those
dogs who like playing with other species. During
the warmer part of the year swimming is possible
in five ponds that were built for retriever
training. Dogs can be taken there individually to
retrieve or just to swim. Game time is another
option, in which dogs are instructed on crossing
simple obstacles such as an A-frame ramp or a
tunnel, retrieving and catching a Frisbee.
Obedience training is available at Mountain
Run for non-resident dogs as well. A beginners’
course is now being taught from 6:30 to 7:30
p.m. on Mondays by Pepperhill Dog Training.
Call (804) 978-2090 for information.
Mountain Run Kennel allows picking up and
dropping off between 8 and 11 a.m. and 3 and 5
p.m., Monday through Saturday. Other times can
be arranged, but Sundays, holidays and evenings
require an extra charge.
Cats stay for $10 per day. Dogs under 25 lbs
stay for $12, 25 to 50 lbs $14, 51 to 85 lbs $16,
and over 86 lbs $18. Charges begin on the day an
animal comes in. If you pick your pet up between
8 and 11 a.m. there is no charge for that day. So,
although you cannot bring your dog home on
Sunday evening following a weekend trip, you
can go get him Monday morning and not pay any
extra. Pets can be picked up and delivered for
$50 per trip, and $25 for each additional pet.
Special diets can be arranged for $1 per
feeding. Special medications can be given for $1
to $5 per treatment. Professional photographic
portraits of your pet can be taken for various
A nature walk/ swim (30 minutes total) costs
$12, buddy time doing whatever your pet likes
for an hour, including seating on the couch with
a treat, is $18, group play for 15 minutes is $8,
30 minutes $15, game time $8, 15 minutes in the
VID (very important dog) lounge being cuddled
and petted is $6, 10 minutes of obedience
training is $10, individual lesson $50, classes
once per week for six weeks $75, and behavior
Baths cost from $20 to $45 depending on the
size and condition of the animal. A bath includes
ears, nails and anal glands. There is an extra
charge for brushing out and drying long-haired
and matted dogs. Maintenance brushing is $8 per
15-minute session. A flea-and-tick dip is $5
extra. All animals are checked for fleas and ticks
when they arrive, and – if need be – bathed and
dipped at the owner’s expense.
To get to Mountain Run Kennel from Route
29 just south of town, take Route 718 (Mountain
Run Lake Road) and go past Mountain Run Lake
Park and continue to the T-intersection at Route
633. Turn left. You will immediately see a sign
indicating that the kennel has “adopted” that
road, and another sign on which someone has
spray-painted “Woof!” Continue eight-tenths of a
mile and watch for the kennel’s sign on the left at
Retriever Road. You can also pick up Route 633
from Route 522. Call 547-2961 or fax 547-4324.