If Caitlin got to choose where to stay, the Alpine Dog Ranch would be the place, paws down.
It's waaaay out in the boonies. The directions tell you, 5 miles from the freeway on Tavern Road/Japatul Road. It's more like twice that. Here's what it looks like from the satellite view:
After you leave Japatul Road, there's another half mile before you run out of pavement, then something like a mile on a rough and bumpy dirt road that you'd probably need 4-wheel drive to negotiate in bad weather.
A lot of people must think it's worth it, because they're fully booked next week and couldn't take Caitlin for a test visit.
The owner, Thomas MacKinnon, is a transplant from South Africa with a lovely, lilting accent. Tall and suntanned, with a scruffy beard, he looks as though he might just have arrived back from a trek on the veldt. He greeted us with a cheerful smile, and conducted us on a mini-tour of his 4 acre property.
Caitlin found the pond right away and jumped right in. Here's a photo from his website of dogs in the water:
She spent most of the time we were there, leaping in and out of the pond with another dog, and scrambling up and down the rock face behind, beside a spring-fed waterfall. I would imagine that the property is gorgeous in the spring, while everything is still green. Even in its dry-season state, Caitlin thought it was wonderful.
Tom says he gets up at 6:00 a.m. and hikes with the dogs before breakfast. They have the run of the property until about 7:00 p.m. in the summer. Then they retire to their "bunkhouse," a small building furnished with a couch, several cots and some crates, which are left open during the night. The dogs can sleep wherever they wish.
The only time the dogs are crated is while they're being fed. There's someone with them all the time, and, since he and his wife and children live on the property, they're not left alone overnight.
His prices aren't too different from other boarding facilities, but since he charges you for a full day, both for the day you check in and the day you check out, it looks expensive to me for anything other than a fairly long-term stay.
I liked him a lot. I liked the facility. I don't think I can afford him, at least not very often.