If a giant hourglass exploded, leaving a sand-hued floor and a temporary break in the flow of time itself, Paradise Grooming would be the result. Against a backdrop of murals featuring palm trees frozen mid-sway beneath a sun perpetually stuck in the warm golden hours, gents grab a brew and try to sink into vacation mode while shears flick through unruly curls. As spheres rocketing across a fully functional foosball table sound a sharp report, scalp massages grab the attention of nostrils by steeping skin in fragrant tea-tree oil that soothes heads stressed from living downstairs from a piano-and-anvil factory. On the way to a private room for a hot-stone massage or facial, guests pause to peruse a menu of manicures and waxing services.
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.
The trainers at K-9 Perceptions train dogs and modify their bad behaviors, helping owners and pets form stronger relationships. While their private and group lessons teach obedience commands such as "sit" and "down," the trainers' main focus is to train dogs for companionship. K-9 Perceptions also trains service dogs and hunting retrievers.
Experienced dog trainer Richard Starks leads pups and their parents in weekly, one-hour obedience classes that pin-down bad behaviors and reward good habits. Furry friends learn basic behaviors alongside various breeds and robotic facsimiles in courses designed to make home life easier. Additionally, pet owners practice methods that curb canine urges to destroy furniture and leave empty milk cartons in the fridge. Richard's techniques reflect his experience with K-9 units as well as his lessons from trainers Matthew Margolis, an author and TV-show host, and Tom Rose, a veteran instructor of both dogs and dog trainers.
In addition to a 10-acre hiking trail and one-arce swimming lake, Dog Wood Park offers a 25-acre enclosed field that lets pooches free to shirk their leashes and gambol with other dogs. Here, a sand pit invites unchecked digging, trees offer ample shade, and two swimming ponds help canines cool off. Though the atmosphere is playful, the park does have a few rules to maintain a safe space for dogs, owners, and mailmen. Male dogs must be neutered, for instance, and all owners must show proof of their pooch’s rabies vaccination. To ensure clean coats and picturesque scenery, bag stations, trash cans, and bathing stations abound.
Although Sue Towler developed a steadfast work ethic during 24 years of service in the United States Air Force, it's her love of dogs that continues to bring out the best of her nature. Before opening The Barking Lot, where she and her staff of canine devotees lovingly provide dog boarding and daycare services, Sue started a home pet-sitting service and a no-kill animal shelter, both of which she still runs. At The Barking Lot, pooches frolic together on a grassy playground during playtime, monitored by the staff in case a debate about the president's dog's foreign-policy experience gets out of hand. At night, boarding pups settle into tiled suites and air-conditioned kennels.
Gazing at potential owners from their temporary homes, Jacksonville Humane Society's dozens of friendly cats and dogs eagerly await adoption by a caring new family. Kittens, such as the 3-month old Tank, beg for coddling and playtime with their wide-eyed exuberance and miniature croquet sets, and adult and senior animals such as Yoshi, wizened in his eight years, lavishes steadfast companionship. To ensure potential pet owners are paired with a four-legged pal of appropriate temperament, the shelter's color-coded Meet Your Match personalized pet-matching service narrows down the adoptable field with a quick survey. Adopting an animal, like asking a potted fern to marry you, is an important life decision that should not be taken lightly, and it entails a slew of responsibilities and expenses. Each furry new chum will require a rabies tag ($20) (necessary for all animals in Duval County) and lifelong heartworm protection ($21–$30 per month).