The Dude Ranch Pet Resort’s “next-generation facility” is the culmination of five years of research and consulting with pet-care professionals and dog owners. Situated on 47 acres of picturesque landscape—including fields, lakes, and forests—the resort eschews cinder blocks and chain-link fences for climate-controlled, stainless-steel villas that won’t attract mold or bacteria. At daycare, charges romp across 15,000 square feet of outdoor play yards that feature double trapdoors. Overnight guests bunk on platform beds in private suites or deluxe villas, surrounded by soothing background music and continuously filtered air. Cats, too, are welcome to rest in their own exclusive area replete with nail scratchers and catnip toys. While pets snooze, the staff remains on duty, walking the halls to ensure dogs are safe and not staying up too late telling ghost stories. The resort also offers grooming sessions and training classes that range from basic obedience to dog-show skills.
While away on vacation, pet owners imagine their four-legged charges wagging their tails contentedly when they are under the care of Paws and Claws Pet Services. The owner-operator draws from 30 years of animal experience when tailoring pet-sitting services to clients’ needs. Besides fulfilling basic pet needs such as food, water, exercise, and allowing them time to watch Face the Nation, sitters bathe pets, escort them to the vet or groomer, and clean up waste in the yard or litter box. They also turn lights on and off and collect mail to give the impression that someone is home. In line with their commitment to animal welfare, the staff donates 5% of the company's income to the Richmond Animal League for homeless dogs and cats.
Colleen Seely, a horse trainer and judge for local equestrian shows, channels her love for the gentle creatures into Fox Pointe Farm, L.L.C., which she opened in 2005. The 27-acre expanse houses two arenas—one lighted with professional footing and the other sandier than a hermit crab's beach house—as well as two barns' worth of stables, grassy pastures, trails, and a swimming pool. Within the tranquil setting, Colleen and her staff train and board steeds for showing at local venues or the farm's own school. Focus shifts from horses to riders during lessons for all ages and abilities, in addition to summer camps for avid athletes. Some overnight camps span an entire week, during which 10 girls bunk in the air-conditioned Fox Den cabin after a day of riding.
Backed by an armory of natural shampoos and soaps, the groomers at Shampooches Salon & Spaw untangle and trim coats, leaving pups to strut out in a well-groomed parade with tongues lolling happily. Flea and tick treatments keep pests at bay, and trimming around the ears leaves pooches ready to listen for the sounds of other dogs barking or coaches discovering loopholes that allow canines in the league.