In 1991, Jimmy and Regina Huggins opened a dog-grooming salon. Sensing the duo’s bond with canines, customers began asking if their dogs could stay for the weekend. The Huggins decided to build a mini dog hotel in their backyard, a place where they felt comfortable keeping their own four-legged best friend, Miss Kitty.
Today, in a larger location, caregivers pamper pups with creative grooming services, baked pet treats, and loving overnight or midday boarding. Humans observe from the lobby as nationally certified master groomers comb, cut, and coif coats according to each canine's personal style. Along with their grooming, stylish pets enjoy playtime and a leisurely walk to flaunt their new looks around the area's hottest fire hydrants. Bakers craft wholesome doggy confections, such as homemade pitter-pat cookies, from whole-wheat flour, eggs, carob, peanut butter, honey, and cheese. Jeweled collars and accessories line the elegant boutique for owners to gild pooches in preparation for dog-show red carpets.
During doggy daycare, pet nannies place four-legged wards with compatible canine friends for playtime in a large, tree-filled yard. At the boarding hotel, pups head outdoors for 20 to 30 minutes five times a day, rain or shine, to prance, socialize, and discuss timeless questions, such as, “Who’s a good boy?” Separate wings host dogs of different sizes and temperaments and each canine guest has free run of a cheerful, private room with linoleum floors, eye-level windows, and cloth curtains. Throughout dogs’ stay, caring staffers administer medication, food, and veterinarian-approved levels of tender loving care.
In the late 1970s, a group of forward thinkers hatched an ambitious plan to bring Chattanooga citizens closer to nature. With the help of the Junior League of Chattanooga, the group raised more than $500,000, and in September 1979, The Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center was born. Since then, the center has invited more than half a million visitors to explore its 317 acres of forests, fields, and streams as well as raising consciousness with educational programs targeted at schoolchildren, summer campers, and scouts. Their efforts have helped to conserve the approximately 50 native animal species inhabiting the park, including bald eagles and endangered red wolves.
State-of-the-art when it was built, the environmentally engineered main building has remained largely unchanged over the past 33 years. Features such as solar-heating systems, southern-facing windows, and 99% natural R-38 insulation continue to model sustainable-building practices to park visitors and squirrels looking to passively heat their nests.
Paw prints are everywhere within Doggtropolis—adorned on the floors, painted onto tables, and covering the feet of canine customers. Within the shop, self-service stations supply everything needed to clean pups, including shampoo and specialized blow-dryers that won't burn dogs' skin or resurrect the '80s perm craze. Onsite groomers can treat pets to express or full-service grooming packages. They trim nails, clean ears, and express glands, with optional services such as haircuts. To complement these makeovers, Doggtropolis can teach dogs basic obedience and how to plot successful coups against cats.