Rick DuBois left a career in the cutthroat corporate world in favor of his current and more humane profession as the owner and resident "pack leader" at You Luckie Dog! The lifelong pooch aficionado brings more than 20 years of dog expertise—including a stint as a chow-chow breeder and trainer—to his canine daycare, boarding, and grooming spa. "Pretty much whatever a traditional kennel does, we do the opposite," says Rick, who personally groups his tenants into amiable playgroups according to size, temperament, and fastest time swimming the 300-meter dog paddle. The canine resort rejuvenates man’s best stressed friend with physical exercise and socialization, with stays ranging from day-long excursions to overnight boarding. The popular daycare service allows early morning drop-off and pickup as late as 8 p.m., and Rick makes a point of never smacking his customers with dollar-per-minute fees for late pickups. "I know what it's like to have meetings run long while people drone on. I want people to know I'm not trying to nickel-and-dime them."
With a 10,000 square foot roof deck, private suites, and indoor pools, Wag Hotels would be a swanky destination for any human. But as much as they might want to—and as much press as they might have read about the hotels—bipeds aren't welcome to spend the night at either of the hotel's locations. Instead, cats and dogs rule the roost at these luxury pet resorts.
Both locations are open 24/7 and offer more than 5,000 square feet of playrooms where pups romp around. Spacious boarding rooms with flat screen TVs await canines spending the night while two-level kitty condos—designed by feline specialists at UC Davis—keep cats entertained with built-in exotic fish tanks. And for top dogs, Wags offers Golden Gate and Presidio suites, both outfitted with raised Cal King beds and in-room aromatherapy dispensed by employees or a tower of devious cats wearing a trench coat to look like an employee. Animals can even indulge in the hotel's spa, which offers such grooming services as oatmeal shampoos and puppy pedicures.
To ensure each four-legged guest's visit is comfortable, Wag's team employs the Wag Care 360 approach. This approach includes sanitizing the facility regularly and allowing owners to check in on their pets via the hotel's web cams. Wag also provides dog training courses and pet CPR classes.
Aiming to keep the friendship between man and man’s best friend as fresh as possible, SplashHound is home to an easy and fun dog-washing system that helps your favorite canine companion stay clean without splashing your home bathroom in eau de dirt. With the self-serve dog wash (a $12–$15 value), owners don’t need appointments to completely cleanse their dirty pooch, and the only clock they’ll be racing is a broken one. Standing in a well-spaced and waist-high line, six large metal washtubs allow walk-in entry for the biggest dogs while leaving plenty of room for complicated pre-bath exercise routines. After donning a waterproof apron, parents purge impurities from their animal children with SplashHound’s special bathing wand, which conquers the thickest of coats with cleansing hypo-aloe and hypo-watermelon shampoos while also administering a satisfying massage to worn-out cat-catching muscles. After the bath, dogs are blow-dried and pampered at the grooming station.
With 35 years of experience under his belt, Hugh White of Hugh White Training Stables and fellow equestrian Jody Werner impart horse-whispering skills to riders of all levels during fun, expertly taught lessons. After one to three students saddle up, experienced instructors draw on classical training methods to teach basic, intermediate, or advanced skills. Horses paw at yellow sand in huge arenas or leap over jumps in outdoor fields as students trot, cantor, jump, or arrange their mounts in My Little Pony–inspired tableaus.