Professional Pet Pampering
So maybe your pet isn't the cutest in the world. Your furry friend still qualifies for at least some of these services catering to thoughtful or time-challenged owners.
DOGGIE DAY SPA
Every pet appreciates a little R&R. And that’s where vacations and lazy Saturdays usually come in.
But for times when a Hawaiian excursion just isn’t in the budget and your pet needs an escape, a doggie day spa can be the way to go. They make a great mini getaway without having to leave town.
But isn’t a doggie day spa just a fancy way of saying "groomer?"
Not quite. The differences are in the levels of detail and comfort.
Doggie day spas minimize stress by incorporating soothing music, massages and basic peace and quiet. All grooming takes place in a separate room.
Your precious pet can enjoy an a la carte experience, meaning you can customize the spa day. There are "pawdicures," complete with "pawlish" (their words, not ours), whitener and ear cleaning, to name a few services.
Experts say getting a snip here and a good brushing there can do wonders for a pet’s confidence.
According to Erin Dean, owner of Overland Park-based Sydney’s Pet Spa, not only does a spa experience make them look and feel better, it can improve their attitude.
“Dogs that feel better are happier, healthier, act more friendly and are more energetic,” she says. “The same goes for dog daycare. Dog daycare allows your dog to get attention during the day while you’re working with humans and also other pets. This is good to help with the activity level your dog might have.”
Prices vary with the breed and size of the dog. Some locations even have spa days for pets of the feline persuasion.
So an emergency comes up and there’s no way you can get your pet to the vet or the spa. Now there’s a service ready to come to the rescue: pet taxis.
Pet sitters, groomers and even day care centers are offering taxi service for pets needing a ride.
“I was thinking about when someone works full time,” owner and driver at Critter Sitter Connection, Stacy Flannery, says. “You get off work and you have to take your kids to their appointments, and the dog doesn’t always fit in the car when it’s full of kids, and you have to take it to the vet. Then the vet closes at 6 or 7 p.m. So I just thought, if somebody could come and pick your pets up and take them to the vet and the groomer midday, that would be a very useful service.”
All it takes is a phone call. A driver from your favorite company can pick up your furry friend and take it to the vet, groomer, play dates or the Kansas City International Airport. Some services even offer to drive your pet to another state if needed.
With pet taxis, comfort and safety come first. They’re secured in the vehicle with either a seat belt harness or a crate. They get treats and relax to the soothing sounds of music.
And if there’s a pet out of state that you’d love to welcome into your home, but distance is an issue, pet taxis can help reunite or connect new families.
“I don’t charge that much for rescues that are trying to get a dog to a new home,” Flannery says. “They get the rescue rate, which is gas money. It’s just rewarding all around when you’re bringing people’s best loved child, long lost child home to them. It’s just so rewarding.”
Guarding the house from dust bunnies in high places and keeping an eye out for that pesky mail carrier is a stressful job, but our pets are happy to do it. But just like us, age and daily wear and tear can give pets myriad aches and pains.
Veterinary acupuncture, also known as pet acupuncture, seems like a reality show gimmick, but the advocates of medicinal pet poking just might be on to something.
Dr. John E. Rowe at Aid Animal Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., says that when added to other medical practices, acupuncture can be beneficial.
Unlike pharmaceuticals, which can have a laundry list of side effects, acupuncture has no scary consequences and is most successful after a couple of sessions.
Dr. Rowe, who earned his certification in 2005, says acupuncture can be used to control all kinds of pain, especially for pets with arthritis or stiff muscle and joint pain. Acupuncture can also be used to treat stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, disk problems, bad backs, separation anxiety, diabetes — just about anything.
Although the thought of fine needles being placed into various pressure points all over your furry pal’s body might make you uneasy, most pets are pretty relaxed during the process. Some have even been known to fall asleep during sessions. The endorphins released during the session calm them.
Cats, horses and birds tend to be more hypersensitive when it comes to acupuncture, making treatments for those species a bit more difficult. Dogs, on the other hand, have a wider time frame of reactions — fast to slow, just like humans.
Despite the benefits, some people don’t think the pricks are worth the price. Fees range from roughly $65 to $125, but advocates say results pay for themselves in the form of a happy, healthy pet.
MOBILE PET GROOMERS
Parkway Pawlor Mobile Groomer
We love the look of a freshly groomed pet, but not the path of destruction that often ensues while getting that pet to the groomer. Uneasy riders fouling the car with hair or worse can give an owner more of a workout than a Pilates class.
Now there are mobile groomers to add to the growing list of services to cut down at least some of the chaos of pet ownership.
Mobile pet grooming allows for peace of mind for not only the owner, but also the pet.
But perhaps the biggest benefit is the convenience. Mobile groomers come to you and groom your pet in their state-of-the-art vans. The grooming stations are quiet, clean and sanitary. There’s also no cage drying and no other pets around.
According to Anneka Ash, owner and groomer of Stilwell, Kan.-based Parkway Pawlor, which began operations in 2012, mobile grooming services are the perfect solution for those who work at home or can’t get out even on the sunniest of days.
Just how popular are on-the-go pet primping pros?
“Before my first year of being in business, I was already so booked that I couldn’t take on any more clients,” Ash says. “I have a waiting list to get in. So there’s definitely a huge demand for it.”
Most sessions take about an hour or less for smaller dogs, whereas larger pets take a bit longer. For some, the price is a setback, but for others, the price is worth the convenience.
PET REPORT CARDS
Would your pet make the grade?
Some local pet play places offer report cards to document what your pet’s been up to while you were away. But pet report cards are more than a marketing scheme, more than a way to get your email address and send you updates; they’re actually helpful.
Owners view their pets as family. And just like with kids, they like to see what their wards have learned, how they’re doing and how well they behave without them.
There’s a “pawgress report” (that’s what they’re called) for almost everything — day care, boarding, grooming, training, etc. They list activities, mood, favorite playmates, level of play and comments about the pet.
Some locations offer the report cards as a standard service, while others allow for owners to opt in or out by signing a list at the drop-off desk. Whatever the case, pet owners just can’t seem to get enough.
“I mean, there are some people who bring their dog in every single day, and they have for years, and they still want a report card every day,” says Taylor Hirlinger, employee at Overland Park, Kan.-based Pawz at Play. “And it’s just fun because they get to see who they played with. I’ll have a lot of owners come up and ask me what type of dog their playmate is that’s on their report card so they can kind of get an idea.”
Pet report cards are also a good way for the staff to communicate between the different shifts. If your pet seemed a bit anxious, or there was a change in appetite, staffers take note and keep an eye on it.
Most pet places have a trial run before the pet becomes a regular, but in case your pet is having a bad day, employees will talk to the owner directly, just like at parent-teacher conference.
PROFESSIONAL POOPER SCOOPERS
Admit it. The worst part of taking your dog for a walk is that moment when the leash goes slack and the dreaded plastic bag is summoned to service.
Or maybe you confine those unavoidable moments to your own lawn and just walk away, leaving a mine field that, in time, sprouts green mounds commemorating past deposits.
There’s a better way to deal with this unavoidable issue.
For a price, of course.
Yes, there are actually people who are glad to remove and dispose of those backyard bombs.
Once or twice a week, scoopers will make a visit to clean up and haul away the droppings.
And it’s not just houses and apartments they service.
Take your dog to work? No problem. You can hire them to make a pick up at your business as well.
With some scoopers, you can pick which day works for you. With others, there are set days for service depending on where you’re located in the Kansas City area.
Dan Taylor, owner of both Northland Poop Scooping and Johnson County Poop Scooping, says it’s not just about keeping your yard nice. There are also health and environmental reasons to remove pet poop.
He says that dog waste can carry all kinds of bacteria, parasites and diseases. When younger kids play in the yard, they can get it on their toys and eventually their hands. We’ll skip the details about what could happen next.
Not only can dog waste be an inconvenience, but in some cities the law requires pet owners to remove it on their own or hire a service.
Mowers and landscapers won’t pick it up, and expecting a lawn mower to do the job just turns it into a waste spreader.
Sure, poop scooping might be a dirty job, but in the end, it benefits everyone. And if the price is right, consider turfing the task to an expert.