A mechanic opens the hood of a car, inspects vital fluid levels, and carefully removes a four-week old kitten. Now known as Mercedes—named after her former automotive residence—she is a permanent resident of South Tampa Puppy Palace. Pet owners, dogs, and cats may spot 2-year-old Mercedes wandering throughout parts of the large facility, whose webcam-equipped boarding suites (for cats and dogs), dog runs, and play yards have the capacity for more than 150 animals. The facility's custom-built saltwater pool gives pups a 20'x30' tub to splash around in without their owners worrying about chlorine's potentially harmful effects on coats, skin, and tails' wagging patterns. The play yards also feature canopies under which dogs can cool off with fans and misters.
Led by manager Tiffanie Ivins, a former veterinary technician, South Tampa Puppy Palace's personnel include a retired veterinarian and a handful of experienced groomers. All the staffers use their extensive training in canine CPR and interpreting body language to carefully supervise dogs' playtime and prevent unwanted ear nibbling. In an effort to help dogs without permanent homes, South Tampa Puppy Palace also assists three area rescue groups by offering foster care to pups still waiting to find loving families.
The professional staff at Central Bark Doggy Day Care draws 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.
Mark and Sheryl McEachern, owners of the Woof Gang Bakery location in Lutz, opened their shop in hopes it would become a place where pet owners enjoy visiting with their furry friends. "We plan on knowing all the neighborhood dogs by name," Mark says. Bubblegum-pink walls and a chandelier hanging from the ceiling give the shop the feel of a clothing boutique, though displayed trays of dog biscuits and homemade canine cakes leave no doubt as to the store's intended clientele. Helping pet owners provide holistic food for their animals is a priority at the shop, with plentiful dog- and cat-food choices in natural and grain-free varieties. The McEacherns also stock their shelves with chew toys and accessories, perfect for doggy birthday gifts or house-training recognition ceremonies.
Since 1988, the staffers at Pet Supplies Plus have welcomed millions of furry critters of every stripe—from llamas and monkeys to potbellied pigs—into their animal-friendly stores in Pinellas Park and Clearwater. They design their shop so that both pets and their owners can easily navigate the inventory of more than 10,000 items. Wide aisles give leashed pups enough room to roam, colorful signage keeps shoppers moving in the right direction, and low shelves allow dogs to sniff out their preferred brand of rawhide chew. A self-serve dog wash enables guests to scrub their canine companions' coats to a youthful, puppy-like shine, whereas grooming services enlist professionals to tackle tougher jobs, such as brushing out matted fur or convincing dalmatians to stop mixing white and black after Labor Day.
A private, women-only gym, American Woman Fitness Center encompasses workout warriors with strength and conditioning equipment. There’s also fun fitness technology such as the Jump-Q, a semicircle of steps where members can compete against their own time or each other. For boxing and kickboxing, there’s the score-keeping 3 Kick that lights up areas to be kicked and punched. Rounding out the trio of workout toys is Heavy Ball, which challenges exercisers to maneuver and move medicine balls into a series of lit-up slots while being timed. American Woman Fitness also takes surveys from their members to customize fitness classes to their desires.