|Article Author: Angie McKaig|
Pet resorts have come a long way, but here's how to make them better by Angie McKaig
Let's face it, most dog owners would rather not have to board their beloved pets for any period of time, for any reason. But there are times when it's neccessary. Luckily, the cold, antiseptic kennels of the past aren't our only option in today's world of pampered pets.
More luxury pet resorts are opening every day, and many offer carry luxury features like gourmet treats, swimming pools, TVs in each room (playing Animal Planet, of course), and grooming services. Even regular kennels are beginning to offer luxury rooms for more discriminating owners.
But I say the industry can do better. Where is the Ritz-Carlton of the doggy world? I haven't found it yet, but I believe it would be a wonderful addition to the world of pet resorts. Here's what I imagine the ideal pet resort would be like:
There are many truly luxurious dog beds being made now by dozens of different manufacturers. The ideal pet resort would have at least one of these beds in each room (perhaps two of them in some rooms so that playmates or siblings could stay over). The beds would be topped again by luxurious pillows and cashmere blankets for the little ones to dig into for maximum snuggly comfort. A soft (washable, obviously) rug on the floor would give Fido or Fifi the ability to loll about on the floor as well as on the bed. A stuffed animal that your pooch could sleep with would be provided as part of the service, and could come home with them when their stay is over.
In a dog's life, food and water play a very important role, so:
Several different brands of bottled water would be ideal: San Pelligrino for the posh pups, Evian for those a little less cultured. Water would of course be made available to them at all times.
Gourmet meals prepared by a real gourmet chef (who has understanding of a dog's nutritional needs). Sure, kibble would be available for those who want it, but ideally I'd like to see homemade meals prepared individually for my pet when it's time for dinner. Perhaps the resort could offer a menu of different gourmet meals from which owners could choose. And I'd like at least some of the meals to be completely organic and include things like kelp, blueberries - ingredients you see in holistic dog food today.
Gourmet dog biscuits for treats is great, so long as some are organic. Perhaps other options for those puppies on a BARF diet.
Full spa services
While most resorts offer some kind of grooming services, I'd like a full-featured spa menu available to my puppy, including:
bathing and haircuts, nail grooming - the usual suspects
special treatments for coats (hot oil, oatmeal)
In their room, a TV and VCR would be a must—perhaps even a DVD player. The resort would have dozens of dog-friendly films to choose from so that owners could arrange “movie nights” as well as have the option to choose the TV programming that is played during the dog's stay.
The ideal resort would have both outdoor play areas as well as indoor for times when it is too cold or wet to play outside. These should be large and well groomed with lots of space to run. Structured play times or agility training with staff would also be ideal. In these play areas, staff-to-dog ratios would ideally be very small, to allow maximum interaction with the dogs who enjoy it. My puppy can play fetch for hours. It would be wonderful to find a place that could accommodate that. And finally, a swimming pool for those puppies who love to make a splash would make playtime even more fun.
Access for owners
One feature I've seen more recently is the addition of web cams into rooms of some luxury pet resorts. This enables owners to log into a special members-only area of the pet resort's web site to be able to “check in” with their pampered pooch while separated from them. Ideally, this would be available as well as several web cams within the spa and play areas so that no matter where Fido or Fifi is at the moment, anxious puppy Moms could see how their babies were doing.
Obviously, all these services would come at a premium. I've no doubt, however, that many owners—myself included—would be willing to pay a premium to know that their loved ones were not only cared for, but pampered and made to feel at home during their time apart.