When The Comfy K9’s staff of animal behaviorists planned the layout for their luxury dog-boarding lodge, they tried to put themselves in the shoes of their four-legged friends. They thought it might be nice to frolic around a 3,000-square-foot indoor park during six-hour daycare sessions, so they built one and lined it with artificial grass. They also thought it might be nice to play with like-minded pups, so they made sure that it would be easy to separate their guests by size, temperament, and age. This level of careful planning is most evident in the overnight boarding lodge, where dogs bunk down on elevated beds in suit rooms. Each room is separated from the others by a wall of opaque glass blocks, which allow in plenty of light yet spare dogs judgmental looks when they change into pajamas with cats printed on them.
Speaking of cats, they also enjoy comfortable quarters—albeit in a separate area of the building. Owners can schedule appointments for grooming and therapeutic massage during their pets’ visits, or stay on for training sessions conducted by experienced instructors.
One dark and stormy night, Dr. Lee Woods, DVM received an unexpected visitor. Spooked by the clamor and rain, a doggie-daycare regular had burst through her owner’s storm door and run to the other place where she felt safe: Broadway Animal Hospital.
Dr. Woods, whose work on behalf of homeless animals earned him a humanitarian award from the Humane Society, established the hospital in 1991. The recently remodeled facility soon earned accreditation from the American Animal Hospital Association—a distinction held by only 14 percent of animal hospitals. Here, Dr. Woods works alongside several animal specialists, including a certified canine massage therapist, a groomer, and a professional bacon chef. Services range from immunizations and boarding to surgery, emergency care, and house calls. From 2010–2013, the Daily Camera recognized Dr. Woods's hospital with a gold award for best veterinarian.
Raised on a New Mexico ranch, Jordan Di Marco has been an animal person her whole life. After starting Dogma Catma Pet Sitting as a side job while in college, she soon realized it was her calling. Understanding that pets are most comfortable at home, Jordan and her staff provide services that include pet visits while owners are away. During that time, they feed, medicate, and walk the animals. The staff also offers 12-hour overnight stays as well as grooming services and fish-tank maintenance.
Pet owners know that the best thing a doggie daycare can provide is peace of mind. At U Lucky Dog, they do more than promise that dogs will get lots of exercise and human interaction; they allow owners to check on their four-legged friends with live streaming video on their website, with cameras situated on all play areas in the 18,000-square foot facility. Because of this, 5280 magazine named U Lucky Dog its Editor's Choice for Best Doggie Daycare 2012.
Before admitting a pup to dog daycare, knowledgeable staffers evaluate its temperament to determine its best playmates. During the day, dogs frolic in indoor play areas as well as outdoor ones with elevated turf, obstacles to climb, and toy cats to plot coups against. The UVAIRx system purifies the air, extracting germs and other contaminants for a more sanitary space. Overnight guests enjoy kennel-free dog boarding with elevated beds and a schedule that includes play and nap time. Cats can also bunk down in their own exclusive area to plot counter-coups.
The privately owned Overland Animal Hospital & Pet Resort spans 17,000 square feet of facilities that more resemble a boutique pet hotel than an animal clinic. Claiming accreditation from the American Animal Hospital Association, Overland’s general practice veterinarians see to pet health with services that range from vaccinations to pet hospitalization. The boarding facilities cater to both canines and felines even during the holidays, comforting lodgers with heating, air conditioning, and unlimited access to the outdoors for dogs. Onsite webcams similarly comfort owners, letting them check in on their furry friends.
Dogs can also come to daycare, where they get to romp with similarly sized pooches during hours of outdoor play. Individual daycare programs are available for pups who prefer working on their memoirs to frolicking with other dogs. Further services include professional dog training and grooming, during which staff only use hypoallergenic products.
Founded in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1996 by pet owners who were sick of bothering neighbors to care for their furry charges when they were busy or away, Out-U-Go! keeps beloved animals happy when their owners are unavailable. Certified members of Pet Sitter International, Out-U-Go!’s fully licensed and bonded pet professionals undergo a rigorous screening process, putting in time at the company's Dog Walk University to learn how to deal with willful pets, calmly handle emergencies, and internalize animals’ fear of vacuums. New customers start off with a free meet and greet, with sitters coming to the house to meet dogs, cats, and smaller critters and discuss special needs and routines. Services range from daily walks to full-time housesitting to pet-taxi rides to groomers, vets, and kennels.