I'm sure you have seen them around your town or a nearby city... doggy daycare businesses. They take care of your dog during the day while you're at work, and will typically board your dog while your out of town as well. When I first saw these places, I thought "boy, people need to know the line that they have crossed when they can't even take care of their own dogs", but now, I have become one of them.
As you may or may not know, I have an active, year-old yellow lab in my house, whose energy is usually bogging down my ability to get my work done at night (Those familiar with my situation may sympathize). On most days, I would come home for lunch to let him out, and then return to work/school, while he is spending around 8 hours a day in a crate. This semester I was not as fortunate to have an hour to come home every day at lunch, and have been forced to bring my dog to one of these places.
While I am frustrated about the cost of these places, I find myself feeling better that my dog is tired at the end of the day, sleeping happily on the couch with me in the evenings, rather than being worried about how to entertain or distract him while I am trying to work on homework. The place that I bring my dog charges about $13 a day when you buy a package deal of 20 days. Additionally, today I had an incident with the daycare place where my dog was bit on the ear after startling another dog. I, knowing my dog's personality, did not think much of it, while the owner of the business apologized many times to me and cleaned his wound numerous times throughout the day. I could tell he felt deeply sorry and guilty about the situation, even though I have no idea how he felt it could have been prevented. Either way, he also offered me 5 free days of dog care due to the hole left in my dog's ear.
While this story does not have much of a point of being green or saving money (besides having my dog bit in the ear that gave me some free days), I was thankful to find my dog under the care of such nice, friendly, and caring people, and an important awareness to have in the world of today's franchises and falling economy is regarding the local businesses in our small towns or big cities that provide a presence in the community like no other. I have no problem giving more money to businesses that give back to the community, are an active member of the community, and provide a level of customer service that you may not get anywhere else. Not too long ago the corporate business did not exist, and all stores were the "mom & pop" type. Consider giving hometown and local businesses a shot at serving you, you may be pleasantly surprised, and helping out your local economy. In a way, its very similar to the idea of "organic" products - only with the business in mind.