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.
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.
Firehouse Animal Health Center provides an extensive list of veterinary services for pets of all walks of life. Dog and cat owners can turn to Firehouse in search of simple checkups, diagnostic testing, vaccinations, dental care, and surgery. The on-staff veterinary team works together to diagnose and treat each patient, reflecting the clinic’s collaborative approach to making decisions about a pet’s health and whether or not it is actually the reincarnation of the Unsinkable Molly Brown. Pet parents can pick up prescribed medications on site, as the staff maintains a pharmacy replete with these remedies as well as nutritional supplements, shampoos, and flea and heartworm preventatives. Though a love of animals is an obvious prerequisite for a career in veterinary medicine, the staff at Firehouse Animal Health Center takes its dedication to four-legged companions a step further. Staff members regularly support animal charities and adoption centers, and they also provide complimentary initial health exams for animals adopted from Austin-area shelters and rescues.
Behind the glass-paneled bakery case at Doggie Deli & Spa, baked bones and confections get canines salivating in the grand tradition of Pavlov's bell. Natural treats from Bark Stix, Whole Life, and Stella & Chewy's share shop space with collars, leashes, and toys, as well as a carefully curated selection of dog food so delicious pups will have to teach their humans not to beg. The spa half of the shop welcomes pooches and their owners for self-service washes powered by an assortment of shampoos, sprayers, and a high-velocity dryer.
Entrust your domesticated darling to the caring hands of Westlake Animal Hospital's veterinarians, many of which are avid pet owners themselves. They'll gently pet your pet's skin, ears, eyes, and teeth, carefully hunting for any health concerns. Along with recording your animal's vitals and weight, your veterinarian will provide valuable insight into your beastly best friend's nutritional needs and address any questions or concerns you may have. In about 30–40 minutes, you'll be able to walk out the door confidently with the lowdown on your low-to-the-ground pal.
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).