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The dog whisperers of Little River

If you’re out walking around Little River, you’ll probably run into them — an athletic duo strolling up and down the train tracks, calmly strapped to at least 20 dogs. The dogs never bark or fight. The pair of humans is in full control.

They call themselves Barkhaus, and they’re Miami’s ultimate dog whisperers.

Two years ago, Andres Monasterios and Natalie Sanchez’s lives were totally different. Sanchez was a veterinary technician, and Monasterios did contract construction work with his father. Dog owners themselves, the couple would take care of their friends or co-workers’ dogs as a side gig. 

“From there, it took off, we saw that we were good at it and enjoyed it so we quit our full-time jobs,” Sanchez said.

Together, they opened Barkhaus, a dog boarding and daycare service. Since opening their doggy doors two years ago, they’ve been perpetually booked. They typically have 10 dogs in boarding at any given time, and can reach 30 for daycare hours. 

That’s a whole lotta pup. We sat down to learn how they care for so many animals at once, and how the hell they get them to sit so perfectly still for those sick Instagram shots

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS We wake up at 6:45 a.m. and feed the pack breakfast. A few of the dogs will be up by then, stirring and playing. We put the food down one by one and call their names in order of whoever is the calmest. It’s the time we work on their sit-and-stay. After breakfast, they take a nap. It’s super important that after they eat, they rest. We give them time to digest the food. If not they’ll end up vomiting or have diarrhea. When they’re here with us, we give them structure, rules, and affection. Dogs need structure. Without that, they’re lost in the world.

THE LONG WALK After their nap, around 8 a.m., the daycare dogs start showing up. We let them all play for a bit, then by nine it’s time for our morning walk. We try to leave as early as possible. The length of the walk fluctuates by day and the weather. They can be anywhere from three to 10 miles, depending on the pack and how they’re feeling that day. On an average week, we put in about 60 miles of walking, but there are some weeks we do 100 miles. It goes anywhere from one to four hours, sometimes we’ll stop and chill. We’ll let the dogs take in the sights and smells. Morningside Park is one of our favorite parks to hang out in.

POOP DUTIES Most of them go in the morning, so it’s not like we’re picking up tons of poop when we’re out for their walks. As soon as a dog goes, we pick it up. We try to keep it as clean as possible.

PACK DYNAMICS  Dogs are pack animals, they like to hang out with each other. But they also need leadership, and that’s where we come in — we’re constantly watching them and correcting their behavior. When we go for our walks, even if we come across stray cats or random people, the dogs listen to us. Sometimes a train will go by and or make a loud noise, but we just tell them to sit, and they listen and watch. We’re the leaders, but among the pack, there’s a few different dynamics, kind of like a high school lunchroom. We’ve seen some cliques form, like there’s a group of girls that always plays together. When they’re here, it’s like a tornado. But there’s also the bros, they might not play but they kind of kick it. Sometimes you’ll get two different Rottweilers who have never met and somehow they hang out together. Or you’ll see three Great Danes naturally chill, it’s weird. But the whole pack is always together — big dogs and small dogs. We don’t separate them because it teaches the animals how to behave, not just around one or two dogs, but all different types and sizes. Sometimes you’ll get a dog that has anxiety, and we’ll take them out for an extra long run or walk. It’s like a person who has anxiety — if they have too much energy pent up, exercise can release that.  Being around other dogs also really helps them.

CHICKEN FIGHT! By the time we get back from our walk, we don’t hear a single bark. The dogs are super zen. Around 5 p.m., some dogs will get picked up, but for others it’s playtime. The ones that like the water will maybe go into the pool. It’s really funny, we have a Ridgeback here and when it’s in the pool it always jumps on the Bloodhound’s back, like they’re playing chicken fight. The taller dogs just chill and hang out on the side like humans.

 

SLEEP TIME  The dogs are all inside by 7 p.m. We feed them dinner and take them out again once at 9 p.m., and then we put them to bed. Every night when we go to sleep, we’re surrounded by at least 10 dogs. Then we wake up and do it all over again.