I was really down on our dog. At the age of 4, he had finally discovered we were dumping all the good stuff in the garbage. If he couldn’t get at the trash, he’d eat a bar of soap. Every morning at 5 a.m. he howled for his breakfast.

I decided to turn over a new leash and get our dog the obedience training he needed. I heard that Wet Nose, in Forest Park, provided daycare, grooming and training. I called owner Dave Wieczorek, who invited us to the Saturday afternoon playgroup. Dave’s only requirement was that we bring proof that Coop’s shots were up to date.

While we were getting the shots, we told the vet about Coop’s garbage diet. He said he couldn’t keep his own dog out of the trash, so he bought a can with a locking lid. We picked one up on the way home.

On Saturday at noon, we went to 1401 S. Circle and discovered Wet Nose on the second floor. In August 2007, Dave and his business partner, Fran, had transformed a former laboratory into a 2,000-square foot playroom for canines. They added an equally large outdoor play area on the fenced-in roof.

Coop wasn’t accustomed to cavorting with 20 or so dogs, so he cowered close to us at first. But we weren’t shy about meeting dogs and their owners.

Leslie said that Tucker became very upset if she didn’t take him to play at Wet Nose on Saturday. He also waits by the door when it’s time to go there for his agility training.

Sean was hoping his 8-month old puppy Rocky would work off some excess energy. Rocky had already eaten some expensive eyeglasses and various socks and hats. In fact, the only objects Rocky wouldn’t gnaw on were chew toys.

Nancy brought Emmitt, a stray she found in Forest Park. She prefers Wet Nose to the dog park because it’s well supervised and clean. Plus, it only costs five bucks.

Then we met Dave, who’s been training dogs for 31 years. He used to travel the U.S. entering obedience competitions. Closer to home, he works with local police departments on dog issues.

Dave also serves as a consultant and trainer for animal rescue organizations. Each year, he hosts an adopt-a-thon where people from a three-state area come to Wet Nose to choose from 20 to 25 dogs. Last year, they placed 17 dogs. Dave doesn’t believe in punishing a dog but said a lot of good dogs are not getting the guidance they need.

Coop was tuckered out when we got home and I hoped for a night of peace. At 5 a.m., howling summoned me to the kitchen where Coop had opened the locked garbage can. I told him the next time we went to Wet Nose it wouldn’t be for the playgroup.