Frolic celebrates grand opening with a bark


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Kids can bond with service dogs at this new Upper East Side spot


Photos



  • Kids and dogs at Frolic. Photo courtesy of Frolic




  • David Maher, Frolic client happiness manager, with Galileo and Lina Lerentracht, Frolic director, with Patience. Photo: Charmaine P. Rice




  • Taking Patience through the agility course. Photo courtesy of Frolic



It's an animal lover's dream on First Avenue between 80th and 81st Streets.

For cat owners, there's Feline Health, a cat-centric veterinary practice. Right next door is Biscuits & Bath, the popular doggy day care and wellness center. And on October 3, Frolic joined the furry fray, opening its doors to welcome kids and their parents.

Launched by Biscuits & Bath, Frolic offers educational programming geared to children ages 4 to 12, with space for hosting birthday parties and special events. The heart of Frolic's programming is centered on the service dogs adopted from the Guide Dog Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Smithtown, Long Island that has trained and placed guide and service dogs for over 70 years.

The Frolic dogs include Patience, a yellow lab Golden Retriever mix, and Galileo, a black lab. Two more dogs are slated to join the Frolic family. “Patience and Galileo are service dogs and [are trained] to help people with special needs. Though these dogs did not obtain the certification needed to become service dogs, they were raised as working dogs and we want them to keep that honor,” explained Lina Lerentracht, Frolic's director. “These dogs formally undergo what is known as a “canine career change” and they are going to be utilized in programming for kids.”

Lerentracht holds a master's degree in child development and early childhood education. Prior to overseeing Frolic's programming, she ran her own day care center in Brooklyn for 16 years and is an experienced volunteer with animal rescue groups, having fostered more than 40 dogs in the past year.

To get the word out, Lerentracht canvassed in the immediate area, going to nearby schools, local shops and attending events geared to kids all over the city. “I literally attended every kid event this summer,” said Lerentracht. “Word of mouth has been great. The first birthday party we hosted came from a Biscuits & Bath client and the one following that came from a school administrator who I reached out to. We're now booked through November and December.” An open house on Halloween allowed kids and their parents to come in, trick-or-treat, meet the dogs and tour the space.

During the birthday parties, Lerentracht begins with explaining Frolic's mission and how the dogs are adopted from the Guide Dog Foundation, followed by a brief lesson on how to properly approach a dog. A stuffed animal dog is on hand to allow more jittery kids to practice before Patience and Galileo are brought out by their trainers who remain alongside the dogs throughout the party.

The dogs demonstrate their learned behaviors including sitting, staying, turning on the lights, opening the door, and giving kids high-fives. Kids have the opportunity to take the dogs through an agility course. Photo-ops and a dance party further encourage the kids to interact directly with the dogs.

Frolic offers an “Ambassadorship Program” for kids who love dogs, eager to learn more, and potentially explore future career paths working with dogs. Kids are designated as ambassadors after completing the program's three levels.

For the younger set, smaller classes comprised of three or four kids include “Tea time with Patience,” which gives them the opportunity to have a tea party and cuddle with Patience. “Hero day with Galileo” encourages kids to put on superhero outfits while they learn about all the heroic things Galileo is trained to do, such as open doors, turn on the lights, and bring things to people.

Frolic recently hosted an event with a local Girls Scout troop who made signs for a local adoption event and decorated dog collars for a rescue group.

“Unleash your inner dog is our motto,” said Lerentracht. “Kids can come here and have fun while learning about dogs.”


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