Mike Kelly had a sore back, not to mention torn-down shower curtains, a decimated bathroom, and clogged drains, all courtesy of his 160-pound newfoundland, Gordo. He decided to start a self-service dog-wash business, not simply for his own sake but for other sore, slobber-riddled dog owners as well.
And so In n Out Self Serve Dog Wash was born. There, pet owners find a series of green-walled semiprivate stations that house walkup tubs for a variety of dog sizes, including a couple of extra-large sizes to accommodate massive pups or several small dogs that became stuck together after an ill-fated jelly-sandwich incident. Equipped with washing hoses and shampoos, dog owners can disrupt muddy paws and fur before rinsing and styling their pooch's pompadour with a high-velocity, no-heat blow dryer. Or they can seek out the help of the shop's professional grooming services, which include nail trimming, ear cleaning, and packages with breed-standard trims.
Occupying a 21-acre plot in the middle of Mercer County farmland, MayBelle Stables invites aspiring horseback riders to learn the sport in a serene, outdoor setting. Anchoring the land is the original, 1700s-era barn, which reminds riders of the farm's long history as they learn to ride in the Western Style. Hour-long lessons cover the style's basic techniques and customs while students are in the saddle, and also touch on such out-of-the-saddle skills as grooming, tacking, and counting horses until they fall asleep. Once riders become proficient in these skills, they can direct their steed onto the 1,600 acres of Mercer Meadows parkland, a neighboring ecological preserve with plenty of horseback riding trails.
Signature service: Veterinary care
Staff Size: 2–10 people
Average Duration of Services: 30 minutes or less
Brands Used: Boehringer Ingelheim vaccines, Abaxis in-house diagnostics
Pro Tip: Please bring your pet's previous medical records.We look forward to meeting you soon.
Sisters Lizzy and Megan head up the grooming team at Dog Wash Depot. Here, dog owners wash their pups at the self-service stations, which are stocked to the hilt with all-natural cleansing products, fluffy towels, and grooming tools such as combs and hair dryers. Lizzy, Megan, and the rest of the grooming staff are just an "pardon me" away from dispensing grooming advice if needed, whether it's guiding the owner in holding the hair dryer properly or just repeating "Good boy, good boy" so the owner knows he's done a good job. The staff also gets pups into factory-issue form through services ranging from a simple wash-and-dry to a full grooming package that includes a haircut and nail trim.
The giant tree in the front yard of Amber Beech Kennel towers over the expansive grassy lawn, covering the ground with copious shade in the summer or piles of crunchy leaves in the fall. Either way, pups are going to cavort like crazy underneath its sprawling branches. At Amber Beech Kennel, the dog-loving caretakers play with the dogs during boarding, grooming, or training sessions. Aside from making sure pups are properly cared for, educated, and cleaned, Amber Beech also sells pet supplies such as treats and leashes in their onsite shop.
It's rarely a good idea to indulge dogs with cookies and cakes—unless those cookies and cakes are made specifically for them. That's exactly the case at The Paws of Nature, where owner Kirsten bakes homemade treats for pups. Kirsten and her friend, Michele, had the idea to create a neighborhood pet store with a twist. Today, the twist they envisioned comes in several forms, such as community education programs, conveniently designed self-serve washing stations, and a stock of healthier food choices for pets—including, of course, baked goodies.