Under the umbrella of Pet Medical Centers, nine Miami-Dade and Broward-area veterinary hospitals provide sophisticated healthcare for furry, feathered, and scaly family members. The hospitals’ specialty services include nonanesthetic dental care, ultrasounds, radiology, and endoscopies. All locations boast surgical operating rooms equipped with windows and cameras to give owners peace of mind, and many of the clinics are equipped with lasers for blade-free incisions. Besides emergency care, the doctors and technicians—some of whom have appeared as specialists on Univision and Animal Planet—perform general wellness examinations and informative nutritional consultations.
Although medical care provides what pets need, boarding services treat pets to what they want. Most locations double as cat and dog hotels, but only one deserves the title of pet resort—at Coral Springs Pet Resort and Medical Center, animals enjoy a climate-controlled dog park with a pool, baths with massaging jets, and expansive canine suites with window views.
Perched on the floor, a dog cocks his head, listening intently to his owner's voice, which is filtering through the telephone a worker holds patiently next to his ear. Though it's not clear whether the pup understood, when the staff member returns to the call, the owner seems more at ease. According to hospital manager Nicole Pierre, putting four-legged friends on the phone is just one way the crew at Homestead Animal Hospital comforts guests and patients—and their owners.
The kennel staff escorts overnight guests to the boarding area, which was recently expanded and renovated to look like a cartoon town. Each private dog condo has its own mailbox and welcome mat, letting pooches continue to feel at home. Cat condos are two levels tall, with window perches that allow felines to observe one another as they lounge. As staff members supervise, all guests romp in species-specific play areas with obstacles that challenge all four legs, soft areas to wrestle upon, and perches to perfect pouncing postures.
Veterinarians employ technologically advanced tools to foster good health among furry companions. Digital x-rays impart almost immediate images, and laser-assisted surgeries minimize discomfort and healing times. Techs walk from an in-house lab, which shortens the waiting time for test results, past an x-ray machine for analyzing pups’ internal health and a high-tech bandanna for analyzing external cuteness.
The professional staff at Central Bark Doggy Day Care draw on extensive training in animal behavior and doggy first aid to entertain, pamper, and groom canine companions. Skilled groomers primp and pamper the worn-out furscapes of canines with shed-reducing Furminator treatments and Barkley Works all-inclusive grooming baths (prices vary based on the dog; call the desired location for pricing). Thorough ear cleanings ($10) and teeth brushings ($10) keep pups in shipshape hygienic fashion and prepare pooches for cuddling or job interviews.
Animal Planet’s Most Outrageous Pet Digs dubbed Chateau Poochie the “world’s most decadent hotel for dogs” for the lavish care with which the staff treats its canine guests. Tiny nails click on the white marble floors of the lobby, where overnight guests check in at a mirrored front desk beneath a crystal chandelier before a staff member escorts them to one of the suites. Each suite is appointed with raised beds and fleece bedding, access to filtered water, and classical music, while most bear flat-screen televisions so guests can keep an eye on their investments in squeaky toy futures. At mealtime, pet owners choose from a freshly prepared menu of roasted meat accompanied by steamed vegetables and brown rice.
During the day, both overnight and daycare charges enjoy playtime at the Social Lounge, where pups are separated by size so they can romp safely on impact-resistant floors as they dive through hoops, clamber up steps, or challenge their tails to a winner-take-all battle royale. They can also enjoy the fresh air in the outdoor garden or schedule individual playtime with someone from the staff.
Chateau Poochie also houses a luxe salon and spa where grooming sessions can be supplemented by facials and pedicures. Therapeutic massages help whisk away tension, and training sessions teach pups better manners. Cats can get in on the overnight luxury in their own three-tiered abodes, and pet parents keep an eye on their furry friends via 24-hour streaming Web cam.
A pudgy labrador trots through his daily exercise routine on a treadmill, while nearby a band of small dogs scampers after each other upon miniature playground equipment. All the while, a dachshund is transfixed by cartoons on a flat-screen TV.This bustling canine milieu was fashioned by Iris and Adam Feingold, an affable mother-son duo who serve as the deans of Dogstown University, a sleek dog daycare and boarding business in Deerfield Beach. Indoor play areas and boarding suites are kept perpetually fresh-smelling thanks to Dogstown University's custom ventilation system, built especially to eliminate the unpleasant odors made by dogs’ cigars during all-night poker games.Die-hard canine lovers themselves, Adam and Iris further ensure their wards’ comfort with luxurious suites in several sizes, each including bedding, fleece blankets, toys, and relaxing music. In addition, they help ease owners’ anxieties with a 24-hour camera system, which allows owners to log on and check in on their pets.
Freshly back from vacation, a customer walks expectantly into the room. A golden retriever bounds clumsily up, its tongue flapping a rosy greeting and mouth stretched far back into a smile. When the dog’s owner takes up the leash, thanks the staff for caring for her energetic pup, and turns to leave, she feels a tug on the leash. Her dog has planted his feet firmly, trying to back into a sitting position—clearly, he wants them both to stay put.
According to proprietor Lisa Schettino, this is an everyday occurrence at Camp Canine. After a difficult experience finding pet care for her own dog, Lisa set out to create an environment that would not only keep critters safe, but make them want to stay. Now, each Camp Canine location has a resort-style atmosphere sprawled over 9,000–15,000 square feet.
Stressed four-legged friends wiggle with glee during massages, shedding stress from squeaky toys giving them the silent treatment. Against a bass rumble of purring, punctuated by canine yips, green-tea and chamomile facials drive dirt from wrinkled faces and soften wiry fur. As they wait for their next spa appointment, dogs can roam freely in a fenced-in play lot. After tearing through a maze of tunnels and obstacles, they splash into the pool and emerge to toss their cool, wet fur, bejeweling the air with spray. An air-conditioned indoor play area shelters pets from extreme heat and teenagers listening to vacuums at high volume..
Owners too can rest at ease during their pets’ vacation, knowing their animals lounge in private rooms with plush bedding and staff watching 24 hours a day. They check up on their furry friends via scheduled Skype sessions and various webcams set up throughout the Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale facilities. Those locations also pick up and drop off pets that haven’t yet learned how to operate a manual transmission.