“What was a quiet section of Michigan 139 in central Berrien County has turned into a heaven of sorts for horse lovers,” writes a reporter for the South Bend Tribune. That 39-acre elysian stretch, surrounded by fertile Michigan vineyards, is Concord Ridge Equestrian Center. There, equines clip drumrolls against the soil on a cross-country course complete with banks and water jumps, and riders on the Natural Horsemanship Course brush up on skills such as posture and honking motions at passing clydesdales. The center’s teaching team dispenses instruction to eager pupils on the three outdoor arenas and two indoor arenas. Students can then take their newfound expertise out onto the network of riding trails or the nine pastures. Chatter about riding apparel and technique drifts from an upstairs lounge, where guests find WiFi, elevated bleachers, and a kitchen.
Surrounded by a lush ring of trees and matted with verdant grass, the 5-acre outdoor area at The Bark Park gives pooches a place to play and relax, either in the company of their owners or under the watchful eyes of the park’s staff. While they run free in the sun or laze in the shade, each guest gets the chance to socialize with other dogs and expend energy that might otherwise be spent on selling their collars for treat money. The canine caretakers also offer a concierge service that picks up dogs for daycare and returns them home after.
Certified farrier Mike Marquis's slogan is "Putting balace back into every step." But Mike isn't a yogi, nor does he treat vertigo. Instead, he works with the animals he is passionate about: horses. Mike specializes in natural barefoot performance trimming to help care for and stabilize domestic horses. Each day, the horses he works and plays with bring him great joy and stress relief, so he works hard to continue educating himself in farrier science and cutting-edge carrot-origami techniques to keep his horses healthy and happy. For trimming appointments, Mike travels to a horse owner's home or barn, where observes the horse in motion and then skillfully trims down their hooves.
In 1997 PAWS Chicago set out to halt the unnecessary killing of thousands of homeless cats and dogs in the region, establishing a no-kill shelter and organizing public-awareness campaigns. More than 20,000 adoptions later, team members still visit Chicago Animal Care and Control every day to take as many pets into their care as they have room for, providing necessary medical attention as well as spaying and neutering services. The Luerie spay and neuter clinic and GusMobile spay and neuter van serve the pets of low-income families and tackle the problem of animal overpopulation in city neighborhoods, catching, treating, and releasing more than 18,000 cats and dogs every year to prevent the unchecked growth of local animal colonies. Through the Adoption and Humane Center in Lincoln Park, PAWS also adopts out animals that enter its shelters. The center maintains a cage-free facility to ensure pets live in comfort and dignity until they can be matched with an adoptive family.
Though lifelong animal lovers, owners Jennifer and Chris Stavrianos' passion for dogs and cats reached a new level of dedication when they began caring for strays around their Westside Chicago neighborhood. The experience inspired them to open Pet Care Plus in 1998. In the 13,000-square-foot facility, pups can scamper across an expansive rubber-surface playground, enjoy training and grooming services, and, in the summer months, head outdoors to frolic in the in-ground swimming pool. Some dogs stay only during the day while their people are at work, but Pet Care Plus also hosts overnight guests of both canine and feline persuasions. Training classes for dogs of all ages are available to keep behavior in check when pets return home. Grooming packages range from simple baths with brushing to a full-service mane makeover complete with nail polish or custom conditioners.
Owner Lindsay Rapp surrounds herself with a staff of canine-whisperers who employ both human and animal psychology to help owners and pets live long, happy lives together. Agility training equips dogs for high-intensity play or auditions for basketball movies, and other courses tailored to families with children keep the peace by preparing dogs for a new baby or preparing families for a new dog.