Our current attending vet is:

Dr. Ann Holshouser, DVM, Riversong Holistic Veterinary Care 828-862-8450

All emergency situations are handled through one of the 2 Emergency Clinics in our area; each is about 30 minutes away. REACH and Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital.


Per the North Carolina Statutes, “No person shall operate a public auction or a boarding kennel unless a license to operate such establishment shall have been granted by the Director. Application for such license shall be made in the manner provided by the Director. The license period shall be the fiscal year and the license fee shall be seventy-five dollars ($75.00) for each license period or part thereof beginning with the first day of the fiscal year.”

This means that one must be licensed and inspected annually by the State in order to board dogs overnight. Spring Valley Farm is proud to be a licensed boarding kennel. We have always worked with the state in order to honor the laws of North Carolina. We, of course ARE a licensed boarding facility. We welcome the required annual inspection. Inspections ARE ALWAYS random, and help to constantly focus Spring Valley Farm’s staff’s energies on safety, proper care, feeding and watering of our boarding guests, proper sanitation, proper space, proper temperatures, proper use of construction materials and techniques and on and on…


Spring Valley Farm Dog Care is a unique dog care facility. First of all…where else can your dog go and play in a fenced field that is many acres? And play in a creek if they want to? And chase a golf cart around, like in a doggy dream? They can run and run and run here, like no where else. They can play and run and act silly. When they need a break, they can rest in the shade and watch the other dogs play. There is room for the ball lovers to run as fast and far as they can to get that ball, there is room for the wrestlers to act the fool, and there is room for the older ones to watch the action from a safe spot. Small/calm/timid dogs have room to do their thing without being over-run by wilder/bigger dogs. We view dogs as complex and unique living beings with needs. I classify these needs into: physical, mental and primal.

Physical needs are met with feeding and proper exercise. While your dogs are boarded they have several play groups in which an experienced handler is engaging with your dog. Ball loving dogs get balls thrown; lap dogs get one-on-one lap time. Water lovers get to play in the creek, weather permitting. Every time your dog comes out of their crate, they get human touch and attention. The boarded dogs go out 5 times a day every day!

Mental needs are met with following a routine, listening to directions and being in a ‘pack’. As an example, I may re-enforce the ‘sit’ & ‘wait/stay’ command while playing ball or in going through a door or gate. I have designed many ‘games’ to exercise the mental needs of a dog. If a dog is exhibiting negative behavior, sometimes just giving them a ‘job’ to do is enough to bring them around.

Primal needs are numerous and we consider these as very important for the well being of any dog:

  1. Dogs have off-leash freedom in acres of fenced grassy land. Here, we recognize that dogs are motivated more by freedom than the popular notion that dogs are motivated by pleasing the human. If the latter was the case, we would never have challenges with dogs pulling on leashes, jumping on us, running away, barking, etc. Additionally, being off leash reduces possible aggression. As dog trainers have stated: If you want to teach a dog to attack, hold them back from getting to where or what they want to reach. This revs them up to want it more! So, dogs lunging and pulling on the leash is actually teaching a dog to become aggressive.
  2. Dogs are able to co-mingle with other compatible and socialized dogs. They are in a ‘pack’ which is natural to the canine. After all, they were born and raised in a pack. When we bring a dog home with us, we become their pack. Dogs WANT to be in a pack.

While dogs board here, they are being observed so that we might know how best to address their needs while they are with us, whether it is in the physical, mental and/or primal levels. We want your canine companion to come back for future visits and we invest our time and energy into making that possible. The other idea is that this is like a vacation or camp environment. When your human children went away to camp, they usually returned home tired, dirty but smiling and filled with adventurous stories. When your pup gets home, they will likely be very tired, and happy, and they may be dirty depending on what they choose to do while here! If you do not want your dog to potentially ever get wet, or potentially get dirty, DO NOT bring them here.


Ideally, this is what I’d like to achieve as it is my feeling that people – and dogs – have the capacity to co-mingle peacefully and most importantly, respectfully. The reality may not always reach this ideal, but it does give us a goal to work toward and hopefully, to obtain. I work, step-by -step with your pets to show them the natural joy and peace of being all together harmoniously. If this unity isn’t achieved we do have several different play lots to use for the various compatible ‘packs’.


Often, I do have several groups of dogs, at least initially. Each time a new dog comes in or out, the dynamics of the ‘group consciousness’ alters. It is for me to determine how the groups are to be formed. First is relying on the owner’s information provided to us in writing. Second, is utilizing my years of experience combined by observation and sensitivity in order to establish an ideal pack play-group.

I may start my inquiry to fit dogs into their pack by putting small dogs with other small dogs. However, holding to that rule does not honor the individual or the pack, nor can rehabilitation occur. Let me explain this comment. I might have a small dog that loves to be with big dogs. I might have a gentle giant that loves small dogs. Let’s say that we have an ‘ankle biter’ here. The little dog dashes about barking at large dogs. So, I may select a gentle giant to come into a lot with the ‘ankle biter’ where I can closely observe and teach the little one how to be respectful around big dogs. As we progress, I’ll introduce all the dogs to the little one until the dog is safe. Additionally, the larger dogs have learned to be respectful of little ones.

At some given time in the future, let’s suppose a little dog that used to be a ferrous ankle biter, meets up with a big dog that would eat it for lunch. With the little dog’s behavior rehabilitated, and as long as the owner does not pick up that little dog but is relaxed and knows how to act, it could well be the one accomplishment that will prevent such a sickening and heart-wrenching accident from occurring.

Hopefully, over time and succeeding boarding visits, everyone will learn how to meet, greet, play and engage with one another harmoniously and with great fun. Everyone will be safe. Everyone will leave behind insecurities, fear and negative behaviors. YEAH! Yes, this takes extra time and effort. Yet, your dogs are worth it and since we treat all dogs as if they will be boarding with us throughout their lives, we are willing to take extra steps to ensure a happy future.

The exception (always an exception) that I personally make is that with the elderly or dogs with any health restriction. To put them in an active pack could be detrimental. However, rather than to isolate them to one of the play lots, I will use one of my core pack dogs or one of the visiting dogs to accompany them. No dog is ever isolated from ‘a pack’.


No. I require an initial appointment in which we can all meet one another.

What we offer is not for every dog. Some dogs will be safer or better suited for a traditional kenneled environment. A dog could be an “un-natural alpha dominate”, meaning that they assumed that position, often because the humans did not fill that role. The dog, out of defense, had to assume it. They bring with them an energy and/or aggressiveness that isn’t safe for the pack. There can only be one pack leader and that job and position must be mine, for the safety of myself, the pack, and the Staff.

Whichever boarding facility the owner chooses, the first priority needs to be based with the ‘safety first’ principle. For example, if you know that your dog can/will/has chewed through a fence, jumped a 5 foot fence, or torn up crates and can not be safely confined, taking them to a regular kennel would be advisable. If your dog bites other dogs or humans, a regular kennel is the best choice. Not only is the safety of your dog a serious consideration but so is the safety of the other dogs, in addition to having regard for the Staff caretakers.


To determine whether your dog will be ideal for this environment, ask yourself several questions:  Has your dog ever growled at or bitten you?  Has your dog ever attacked another dog?  Is your dog crate trained?  Is your dog used to being with other dogs and humans?  Does your dog jump fences and dig out to escape?  If so, you may consider a traditional kenneling environment for your pet until you have taken dog training and behavior rehabilitation which can help remedy these problematic situations.


All dogs are crated when we are not outside with them. These crates are in a building with a closed door.  The building is heated, cooled, insulated, and safe and cozy. The building’s grounds are also secured by fencing.  I LIVE on the property, and I have a very intense guard dog, a border collie sheltie mix named Polly. She lets me know when anyone, or anything, arrives. My other dogs Kenya and Izzie keep the couch and bed warm.


It is good policy to never assume that a dog won’t bite. I assume a dog will bite. And I do my utmost not to provoke or push a dog into that position. I recommend a few safety checks when around a dog.

  1. Never go up to a new dog and pet it. The old saying, ‘let the dog lie’ fits nicely here. Rather, allow the dog to come up to you and ask for a pet or ask the owners if it is okay to pet their dogs. When humans do this, it is somewhat akin to going up to someone’s wife and giving her a kiss. She might slap you or the husband might punch you. Knowing the boundaries and honoring them is wisdom and shows good character.
  2. If you want to meet a dog, kneel down putting your side to them. That is an invitation, akin to extending your hand out to shake someone’s hand. You have the freedom to take the next step or not.
  3. Don’t make direct eye contact. That could be translated as ‘words of war’; an aggressive act.
  4. Don’t talk. Especially, don’t baby talk. High pitches voices and sounds can turn on the prey drive of a dog and initiate problems. The exception is those who raised their dogs with baby talk and then the opposite could be true; the dog could consider a regular voice to be aggressive and/or threatening.
  5. Don’t ever reach through a crate, gate, fence or window to pet a dog. If you can’t resist, stick your hands in your pocket or put them behind your back. If you do not have such self control, when you get bitten, don’t blame the dog.
  6. A wagging tale is NOT a sign that you are safe. Take your time and get to know the dog.


NO. Yet, there are considerations with this. I have two smaller lots that are State approved for leaving a dog unattended for about 20-30 minutes. This means that the area has a 5 foot fence and is doubled fenced. Prior to making that choice, I would have to know the dog’s habits very well. Dogs can be left alone for an extremely brief period in all the other play lots (I can go get a glass of water or to the bathroom, for example, if I needed to). On a typical day, they are NEVER alone.


The only people allowed in with the dogs are those who have been hired and trained to that capacity.  If a customer requests to observe the behind the scenes happenings, they follow the rules of “no eye contact, no touch, no voice” initially, until everyone is adjusted well. NO ONE is allowed to come into the area where the boarded dogs are playing, or housed, without my permission. I know that I could come off as a “hard nose” with this boundary but please know that I am accountable and responsible first to other people’s pets–their well-being and safety.

Children are not always safe in this setting and will be asked to stand on the other side of the fence, at least 2 feet away.


If I ever happened to have just one dog boarding here, I will either put one of my core dogs in to keep them company, or bump them up to the Deluxe Quarters boarding…my house. We have never had just one dog here. We usually have at least 10 on the very slowest of days. No dog is ever left alone or isolated, unless there is a health issue that puts the pack at risk, and they must be quarantined. Very rare. I also use radio music at all times in their room, as dogs don’t like deafening silence.


I am very flexible between 7:30 am and 1 pm, and from 4 pm until 6:30 pm. We are closed daily from 1-4. WE ARE OPEN BY APPOINTMENT ONLY!!! YOU CAN NOT JUST COME WHENEVER YOU WANT TO. If you find that you will need to arrive early or late by more than 10 minutes, you must call or text me to let me know, AND hear back from me that it is ok. Do not arrive early or late without permission/acknowledgement, or you may find that you have to wait for us to finish what we are doing before we can get to you. For example, we may be bathing a dog then. Or we may have a playgroup going, or we may be doing a feeding…there are many, many chores here, all day long. If you tell me you are early, or late, we will work around it as best we can. Again, do not just show up early or late. We also may charge you a $25 fee if you do this. EVERY client has my cell number and I carry it with me at all times. Please text or email or call me if you will be late or early. The BIGGEST challenge we face daily here at SVF is people not keeping their appointment times. Would you tell your doctor that you will see him next Tuesday “between 12 and 2”? Uh, no. You have to make an appointment. If you showed up for your Doctor’s appointment that was scheduled for 12 at 11:30 or 12:30, do you think they would stop treating their current patient and drop everything to attend to you? No way! Neither can we!


Someone WILL be here at your scheduled appointment time. If you find that you will need to arrive early or late by more than 10 minutes, you must call or text me to let me know, AND hear back from me that it is ok. I live here, and when I do leave it is usually when a Staff Member is on duty. But if planets align and you have an emergency on a night that I am not here for a few hours and you must drop your pup off on the way to the Hospital for example, and I am not here: Drop them off in the Agility Area and close the gate and leave a message on my cell phone. By the way…we are closed every day between 1 and 4. This is when I attempt to get “desk work” done, yard work, grocery shop, etc. So please do not ever come during that time. Again, you must ALWAYS make an appointment for drop offs or pick ups. If you are going to be late or early, you have to get my permission for the new time. EVERY client has my cell number and I carry it with me at all times. Please text or email or call me if you will be late or early.


Arrive on time. If you are early or late, we may be busy with a task and we cannot just drop everything and come to you. You may have to wait. If you gave me a “one hour window of time”, and I actually (reluctantly I am sure) allowed you to do that, know that I’m around the place doing some chore, but I am not sitting by the window for an hour doing nothing but looking for you. I WISH I HAD FREE TIME HA! I’ll be busy with some task and when you arrive, I will finish up asap if not immediately and come to you.  Our goal is “curb-side service”: You let me know when you book your appointment exactly what time you will arrive, you do that, and we’ll be ready and waiting for you the exact moment you have given us. Your belongings and dog will be delivered or taken from you, whichever the case might be.


No. No one has permission to enter the boarding property when I am not here, and you will not be able to gain entry, either. No dogs are kept in my home, ever. There could be an exception, and I will try to work creatively with you to come up with a plan. One person brought their dog’s crate and arranged for me to leave their dog in the crate in the Dog Store, which is covered and ventilated, with the door open, as they were arriving at a time I was unable to accommodate. We can work anything out!


My first basis of any decision is for the safety of all dogs.  Your dogs and their well-being come first.  You are second. This does not mean that you are not important to me, but my priority is to keep the dogs safe, not run to you if you are early or late for an appointment. If I am with the boarded dogs by myself, I will not leave them to check your dog in just because you decided to come an hour early without telling me. I will finish up with the dogs, safely, and then check your dog in.


I love my dogs, deeply and completely. I’ll still get teary eyed over talking about my beloved Fermina, one of the most perfect and completely wonderful dogs I have ever known, and don’t get me started on how awesome my current dogs, Polly and Kenya and Izzie, are! No doubt, you love your dogs just as much as you love your off-spring. I’m right there with you and completely understand.

However, let us for a moment move into another reality dimension. Canines are a mammal ~ an animal. Next, they are the breed or breed mix. Add nurture to the existing nature, and you have an ANIMAL that may not be able to think and rationalize before acting. Humans have been trained to think first before acting. Yet, in spite of that, we still snarl, growl and even bite our loved one’s heads off sometimes. I know very few people that have not had a disagreement or an argument with someone else; very few that have not been angered and fewer yet that has not dished out a punch, shove or verbal attack towards another. And if someone thinks that climbing the corporate ladder is not laced with a dynamic interplay of pack positioning, think again.

Yes, a fight is possible. Yes, it has happened. It is rare that blood is drawn, however, it has happened.  Even my personal dogs have been attacked, bitten and had blood drawn from visiting dogs with the owners claiming that their dog is friendly and socialized and would never do that. And I’ve watched my dog get in a fight. We do all we can to monitor the actions of all the dogs yet sometimes, life happens in spite of us. And when it happens, it happens fast and sometimes at that exact second I bent over to pick up a toy/ball/poo or fill a water bowl.

Most fights are a result of over-excited dogs, dogs assuming a leadership role they should not have, or fear-based dogs. Another cause of dog fights is improper training, pent-up energy due to lack of exercise, or inexperience of pack life. We strive to maintain an environment that eliminates fear and anxiety, which we find is the number one cause of fights. Also, we do not allow aggressive dogs to board with us.


First, the fight is broken up and both dogs are removed from ‘the field’ and crated. I’ve never been bitten by a dog while breaking up a fight; one must exercise caution and know-how. This takes wisdom and experience. I am sure I will get bitten one day. An Employee was bitten once. Next, each dog is examined. This is not always easy as some dogs could threaten to bite me or have such a thick coat, it is difficult to find anything. If necessary, we seek medical attention. The engaging dogs are put in different areas and monitored very carefully. The owners are notified if there is a medical reason to do so. Most fights are over in a flash and no harm done to either dog. I keep a store of first aid tools on hand. If it is possible for me to treat a minor situation, I do so. If it is out of my scope of licensing and training, the dog is taken either to their vet or the emergency vet.


Many people would prefer that their dog be kept out of a crate, many even want their dogs to stay with me in the house, and to sleep with me on my bed at night or to come into my home and sit on my lap.  We do not do that. First, I have 3 dogs already. And they do not like for their home to be invaded. And I have enough cleaning to do just from them! And I need to have my own private Home Life. Also, being a licensed facility, we are bound by the rules of such and are not allowed to give that service anyway! All dogs must be in crates in the boarding room during their rest periods. However, know that your dog will receive wonderful care and won’t feel deprived, alone or isolated. They will know that they are a part of the pack at Spring Valley Farm, a temporary member of the family, and do find contentment and safety with such. They are around a human much of the day, get petted, held and played with, fed and cared for as if they were our own. When they are in the crate resting, it is just like they’ve curled up in some corner of the house or under a table. They go out 5 times a day, and 3 of those times are for a LOOOOOOONG time, many times more than an hour. They are exhausted and ready to sleep until the next playtime comes! You would be amazed to watch what happens when the playtime is over: They RUN up the stairs into the boarding room, go easily (usually) into their crates, and within a few minutes they are all asleep or on the way.


To answer this question would require writing a book!  A simple answer is:  I don’t know.  As mentioned above, I make decisions to the best of my ability and I may not understand why I did it at the time I made a particular choice.  Dogs don’t speak words but they do speak through body language.  It is my job to use observation and listening skills combined with years of experience, to bridge that human and dog gap.  I am constantly learning.  Medical doctor’s care is called a “practice” for a reason; they gather learning or ‘wisdom’ through experience.  I do the same thing.  I also am willing to try different things to find out what combination works and how to best support your dog while they are here so that it is an enjoyable and positive experience for everyone.  For me, when the dogs are happy, I am happy.


There is SO much riding on the owner in regards to your dogs boarding experience! As our aim is to have a stress-free, enjoyable visit, we ask that you help in this process. You can play a very positive and important role on the behalf of your beloved dogs.


It is recommended that you have your dog crate trained. Crate training information can be obtained through your personal trainer, online sites or with us. When a dog is not crate trained, this is what we see:

A. A dog that injures themselves by pushing against the crate door or in eating their bedding.

B. Whining, barking, restlessness which creates an environment of high stress to every living thing around. If your dog barks or whines too much in the crate, we will not let them come back. We can not allow them to drive the rest of the dogs, and us, crazy.

C. Putting the dog handlers at risk for a bite or having personal property damaged.


This is a very painful and sad condition for your pet; one that does not need to be a reality. No one wants their beloved pets be in pain, especially when it is so simple to help them move out of it! The poor things need our help and only we can help them.

Of course, please feel free to work with a trainer, however, in the meantime, consider one option:

Simply, begin with mastering the “sit” and “wait” or “stay” commands. Use each room of the house, each direction in your yard, behind fences, doors, cars, with owner in sight and out of sight for longer and longer periods of time – consistently and “religiously” until your dog has mastered self-control. This training can be very effective if you do this by using their accustomed food (perhaps laced with a bit of ground chicken or yogurt so it is additionally enticing) where the dog “works” for his food.

Achieving this level may very well be the one thing in removing fence climbing, escape artist and high anxiety tendencies – replacing them with calmness, trust, joy, contentment, security and self control.

Realizing that this subject requires a book, not a short paragraph, and is only one of many options, it is one of those “quick fixes” I’ve used with great success with boarding dogs in the past.


Dogs feel what the owner feels. The result is that they simply act on those feelings. Leaving our beloved pets at Spring Valley Farm is a good thing; the dogs do very well here and are happy and content little campers.

Whenever we are able to simply be in, what I term, “neutral”, everyone benefits. Neutral is a term imply a state of pure being, one without reaction or action, void of emotions, full of peace, calm, trust and confidence. So, it might be, when we make our internal shift out of worry, doubt, guilt to simply going to “Grandma’s Farm” of adventures and goodness or being in neutral, you’ll be giving a wonderful gift to your beloved pooch!

Please know that if your dogs don’t do well, you’ll hear from us! We will not sugar-coat realities or hide truths from you. If your dog just doesn’t fit here and would do better some place else, we will tell you and assist in finding that perfect match. SVFDC is NOT about the money; it is about service of the dog first – your dogs.


Some people will begin their dogs on supplements prior to boarding. You can contact Dr. Ann with Riverside Vet Clinic for support.


We want our dogs and customers to feel that they are coming to a safe and fun place. These are some additional ideas which may help build trust and confidence, before their first full stay here:

  • Owners may wish to begin bringing their dogs to the Dog Park (please be sure all forms and records are given to the office and let us assist in the procedure of entering into the Dog Park)
  • Owners may wish to do a half or full day of day care, or an overnight boarding, prior to the full boarding. This is STRONGLY recommended.


Let me share what my experience has been. Each new dog moves into this environment differently. Some feel so comfortable that there appears to be no stress at all. Some take one night before they are absolutely comfortable. Some of the harder ones take three nights and I could count those dogs on one hand. Yet, once they find their comfort level, they never have to go through it again. Usually, dogs love and thrive in this environment and with each succeeding visit, displays excitement and desire to come into the pack. As much as I hate to break our human bubbles, they really have such a good time, there is very little home-sickness.

What is so marvelous about dogs is that they are prone to happiness. They happily live in the moment, can grow, change, adapt, thrive and be happy. They are endearing souls that can accept another human, look to another human for its care and well-being. They are courageous in that they constantly rise to love and will trust anyone who has earned it. They are amazing souls. I could only wish as much for all of us humans!


Yes and No. I am not a trained trainer and do not have all those initials behind my name so don’t feel qualified to refer to myself as a trainer. All I have is the experience and wisdom of raising and training my own dogs, all the mistakes I’ve made along the way, lots of little tools in my tool bag and hours working with dogs every day for many years. I observe your dog and their behaviors and what they tell me. I am also seeing your dog out of their normal environment and have a different perspective.

If I see a potential problem arising with your dog while boarding with us, or have any ideas that might support your pet, I’ll gladly give you my perspective. Although dogs will get my assistance during their stay in correcting any behaviors that put the group dynamics at risk, we do not take difficult cases for boarding and rehabilitation. I am also willing to help support your training attempts while your dog is here.  Just let me know what you are working on and we’ll do all we can to continue with that special attention while they are here.

You may have heard the phrases: “There are no problem dogs; just problem parents” and “The dog is never wrong”. I know that the solution to any problem in my life can only be handled by me. Likewise, dogs need the owners to step up to the plate and take leadership and responsible roles with raising their dogs correctly. Mostly, owners need to be willing to change, grow and learn. Otherwise, the dogs can not change and grow.


Dogs, children – all of us – do act differently in different environments. A behavior not seen at home can come forth while here. One reason (there are many) could be that our dogs have the owners well trained. It is common for the owner to deny this fact. Let me show you an example that may help you. A long time ago, you could have attempted to take a bone from your dog and he growled at you.  Your automatic response could have been to pull away and take the position that it is the dog’s bone and you have no right of ownership. At that very moment, the dog was given a leadership position; we have thereby, been trained.

We may think that the dog is not aggressive but the reality is that whenever the dog is dominant and leads or controls the human behaviors, they are more likely to display aggression while they are here.  Here, I own the bones, not them. Here, I must be able to remove something from their mouth that could be dangerous to them or could cause a potential fight with another dog, while not being bit myself. Here, I need to be able to crate a dog so they’ll be safe.  Here, I need the dog to come when it is time to come and to quietly and safely catch a dog that is too shy of humans. I may be challenging a dog when I take leadership role and they may not like it. To support your dog in overcoming these ‘challenges’, I always advise getting them into a group lesson, learn more about dog handling, and to expose your dog to different environments and people.

What are your hours?

 730 AM to 1 PM, and 4PM to 630PM, every day, BY APPOINTMENT. No we will not do an appointment at 7 am, no we will not do one at 7pm. Unless there is a TRUE emergency.

Medical Care While Boarding:

We are not vets. Yet people will ask us to do things that take years of schooling and testing to get a license to legally do! If your pet has medical needs that we can reasonably be expected to be able to legally perform: medical care fees outside of normal dispensation of pills will be assessed on a case-by-case basis depending on the need for care; Inquire within for details regarding your pet’s needs. We know how to give pills, liquid meds, and give insulin shots. Beyond that, we need to have a discussion.