While away on vacation, pet owners imagine their four-legged charges wagging their tails contentedly when they are under the care of Paws and Claws Pet Services. The owner-operator draws from 30 years of animal experience when tailoring pet-sitting services to clients’ needs. Besides fulfilling basic pet needs such as food, water, exercise, and allowing them time to watch Face the Nation, sitters bathe pets, escort them to the vet or groomer, and clean up waste in the yard or litter box. They also turn lights on and off and collect mail to give the impression that someone is home. In line with their commitment to animal welfare, the staff donates 5% of the company's income to the Richmond Animal League for homeless dogs and cats.
Backed by an armory of natural shampoos and soaps, the groomers at Shampooches Salon & Spaw untangle and trim coats, leaving pups to strut out in a well-groomed parade with tongues lolling happily. Flea and tick treatments keep pests at bay, and trimming around the ears leaves pooches ready to listen for the sounds of other dogs barking or coaches discovering loopholes that allow canines in the league.
The Dude Ranch Pet Resort’s “next-generation facility” is the culmination of five years of research and consulting with pet-care professionals and dog owners. Situated on 47 acres of picturesque landscape—including fields, lakes, and forests—the resort eschews cinder blocks and chain-link fences for climate-controlled, stainless-steel villas that won’t attract mold or bacteria. At daycare, charges romp across 15,000 square feet of outdoor play yards that feature double trapdoors. Overnight guests bunk on platform beds in private suites or deluxe villas, surrounded by soothing background music and continuously filtered air. Cats, too, are welcome to rest in their own exclusive area replete with nail scratchers and catnip toys. While pets snooze, the staff remains on duty, walking the halls to ensure dogs are safe and not staying up too late telling ghost stories. The resort also offers grooming sessions and training classes that range from basic obedience to dog-show skills.
To say that Far Fetched Tales' head trainer, Pamela, has a way with animals would be a major understatement. Her 30 years of experience include time spent working on a farm and showing and training horses, and her own prized corgis, Harley and Jo Dee have won seven national titles combined. Throughout her career, Pamela has helped well-meaning dogs overcome a variety of behavioral issues, from jumping and chewing to separation anxiety and poker addictions, using techniques that focus on positive reinforcement. Beyond training neighborhood pooches to sit and stay, Pamela also offers agility training for pets and owners who are interested in qualifying for competitions, as well as pet sitting and training for service and therapy dogs.
Sheridan Stables’s encouraging instructors school fledgling equestrians in the way of the horse during hunter- and Western–style riding lessons, which prepare students to navigate miles of green pastures and trails. A 90- to 120-minute session atop one of the stable’s easygoing horses breaks down the fundamentals of steed steering and spares riders the hassle of converting their mopeds to run on oats. Lights flood the 250'x175' riding arena after dark, allowing nighttime riders to practice jumps or basic riding techniques. Sheridan Stables’ trail rides strengthen horse-and-rider companionship, interweaving with public dirt paths, open fields, ponds, and woods. Trail rides can last as little as one hour or as long as half a day, depending on the rider’s comfort level and whether the horse agrees to pay for lunch.
Whether it's for a routine trim or an extended stay, each visit to Femmes & Fidos begins with a furry version of a red-carpet welcome. Pet pros—all of whom are American Red Cross Pet CPR certified—start with a bit of playtime to get pups happy and relaxed while consulting their people about the dogs’ habits, behavior, and general knee-high outlook on life. Paws ease into padded bathtubs designed to simulate the feel of a mud-hole full of chicken broth and onto cushioned grooming tables. After they've been groomed and re-fluffed, pets romp into their owners' arms smelling lightly of essential-oil-based, aromatherapeutic bath products. Boarding guests snuggle and socialize in lattice-fenced play areas selected to suit their temperament, even if they're aging, anxiety-prone, or behaviorally challenged; the Pet Sitters International members specialize in handling hard-to-please canines.