Bobbi Colorado and her husband Ken Beggs watched as their sly raccoon protégé crept across the room just as they had taught him. Having reached the whirring treadmill's power source, he yanked the cord out of the wall, sending actor Brendan Fraser flying over the top of the machine mid-sprint. The raccoon—who filmed this scene for 2010's Furry Vengeance —is just one of many animal actors mentored by the husband-and-wife team, who have been training domestic and exotic critters for more than 35 years through their business The Wild Bunch.
Often disappointed by the kennels they visited to find dogs for their projects, the pair decided that they would open a better one themselves. They soon set up Bobbi Colorado's Canine Camp on their 10-acre property, building six spacious tree-shaded play yards and large sleeping quarters. The camp is designed to be "a safe, fun, happy place, so when you go away, it's your dog's vacation too," says Colorado. During stays, canines play together outside or nap in the sun while under 24-hour-a-day supervision. The staff members also post photos and videos of the frolicking pooches online so that their owners can check up on them. In addition to boarding, the camp also offers training classes to teach dogs basic obedience or train them for work in movies, commercials, and print ads.
Besides their pet boarding business, Colorado and Beggs' love for animals drives them to train rescue animals for roles, often saving them from euthanization. For the movie Secondhand Lions, for instance, Colorado recruited pigs from a slaughterhouse, and afterward sent them on to work with autistic children through an animal-therapy program.
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Fetch offers a bevy of boutique accoutrements for four-legged companions. Collars and leads are available for precarious pups and dignified dogs, and include classic distressed leather collars ($32+) and nylon rep neckties ($20). Or opt for the dainty-looking FabuLeash ($12), which can support up to 100 pounds of pull force. Pamper your pooch with all-natural grooming products, or reward canines with organic dog biscuits and gourmet dog treats such as the beef-flavored Carnivore Kisses ($12) or veggie rawhide ($6). Artistic kittens, meanwhile, can pounce on the catnip pollock fish ($9), while aristocats daintily dine on Kitty Kaviar ($3.75).
One of the hardest parts of going on vacation is worrying about your pets at home. The trained staff members at Happy Mailman Kennel work to allay this fear with a whole menu of services that keep pups safe, entertained, and socialized while you’re away during long holiday trips or just days at the office. Their indoor and outdoor facility allows pets to roam around throughout the day with dogs matched according to their size, temperament, and ability to find loopholes in basketball rule books that allow dogs to play. Owners can rest easy knowing that every canine in the facility has been screened to make sure play time is safe and fun. Customers can provide their own bedding and food or opt for the facility’s twice-daily feedings with Flint River Ranch all-natural dog food.
Happy Mailman Kennel’s professional dog walkers slip out of the shop to exercise pets left at home during the day. The staff also includes a groomer with 20 years of experience who can scrub down dirty pets, cut hair, and trim nails in house. Happy yips drift from a self-service grooming station stocked with all the supplies needed to keep dogs clean.
For four decades, the family-owned Cactus Pryor's Canine Hilton Boarding Kennel has lodged and pampered pets on a six-acre spread of land. Accredited by the Pet Care Services Association for going above and beyond the role of gracious host, the kennel accommodates its guests with climate-controlled indoor and outdoor suites, blankets, organic food (including homegrown catnip for felines), and continuously monitored water bowls. Classical music piped into the kennels puts cats and dogs at ease, and a 15,000-square-foot play yard permits canines to romp among a selection of toys.
The animal-loving technicians interact with their charges regularly to keep them from growing bored, and can administer grooming services to prevent pets from growing soul patches and starting blues bands. Obedience training and daycare visits also ensure that pups remain active, yet aware of social etiquette.