Thu Dec 07, 2006
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Pampered Pooches

Give your dog the VIP treatment
Story and Photos by Shannon Wilmot

Toronto is full of dog lovers, and why not? Your four-legged friend is always willing to clear his of her schedule to spend time with you, is a loyal companion even in bad times and patiently listens to all your problems. And now you can reward your pet with a little extra. These three businesses are dedicated to providing the healthy, active and glamorous lifestyle your dog deserves.

Tire Biter , 104a&b Scollard St., Yorkville, (416) 920-9663

If you want to give your best friend the VIP service, why not go where the stars do. Courteney Cox, Jason Bateman, Keith Richards, Jason Priestley, Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Alba, Steve Martin, Denise Richards and Geddy Lee have all been customers of Tire Biter Inc. in Yorkville.

For almost fifteen years Tire Biter has offered doggie services such as daycare, walking, boarding and grooming. “I do believe our experience sets us apart,” says owner Emily Cartwright. Doggy Daycare is available Monday through Saturday. Customers can choose to bring their dog six days a week or just a few times a year. Every daycare dog is required to pass an orientation and meet strict health requirements including up-to-date vaccinations and an extra inoculation against kennel cough. Cartwright, who used to work as a vet technician, says dog owners that use daycare should always make sure kennel cough inoculation is a requirement as this bronchial infection spreads quickly. Once accepted, dogs spend the day playing in large indoor rooms or in a fenced in outdoor area. There is also a doggie lounge, a quiet area where dogs can unwind from a busy day of socializing and wait for their owners to pick them up. Owners can check in on their pets between noon and 2 p.m. via a webcam and Cartwright says a lot of customers really appreciate that feature.

Tire Biter also offers grooming services, kennel-free boarding (or as they call it, Doggie Slumber Parties) and dog walking. Doggie Walks usually consist of three dogs and are available to those living south of Eglinton Avenue., east of Bathurst Street, west of Mount Pleasant Road and north of Wellesley Street.
At the end of any of your dog’s Tire Biter experiences (daycare, walking, grooming) you will receive a note letting you know what your dog did while you where gone - whether he met any friends, what bath time was like, who he played with or what kind of trouble he might have got into. Cartwright says the Tire Biter difference is, “we strive to make our customers happy and go out of our way to do that.”

Want something else to take home? Stop by Tire Biter’s Chi-Chi-Chic Boutique. Yes, there are some frou-frou items but Cartwright stresses that she likes to sell what is useful. This includes boots and hand-knit sweaters for the winter, life jackets for the summer and doggie seat belts for all year long. The boutique also has a nice selection of beds, collars, leashes and toys.

For more information on Tire Biter’s services and products click here .

Pawfect Spa , 124 Willowdale Ave., (416) 222-7721

“They thought we were crazy,” says Elsie Tang of those who knew her and Christina Tsui in 2003. That’s when the life-long friends left successful careers to start Pawfect Spa Limited. Tang, a computer consultant who loved animals and Tsui, an engineer who dreamed of running her own business broke ground and opened a small shop in Tang’s backyard. In 2005 they moved to a larger location on Willowdale Avenue. And today this dog spa is a thriving business in North York and the recipient of a 2006 Chinese Canadian Entrepreneur Award for Best Start-Up, which is proudly displayed at the reception desk.

In addition to basic grooming and bathing services Pawfect Spa offers a number of more unusual pampering experiences dedicated to treating your dog like royalty. Dogs can get pawdicures and have their hair coloured. Hair-colouring is particularly popular at Halloween and Christmas and is safe for the dogs, says Tang. A recent addition to the spa’s services is the Mud Scrub. Canines are slathered in a scrub made of mud from the Dead Sea, Eucalyptus oil, aloe and other ingredients. After 10 minutes and a rinse off, your dog’s coat is left silky and smooth. At only $10 (on top of your base price for grooming service) this treatment is an inexpensive way to give your canine the lush life.

Pawfect Spa’s most popular service is the Furminator Shed-Less Treatment. When canines receive this special bath, blow-dry and brush every four to six weeks it reduces 60 - 80 per cent of shedding. Owners are amazed how much dead hair is removed – Pawfect Spa packs it up in a clear bag for customers to see when they pick up their pet.

At Pawfect Spa even basic washing and grooming comes with extra quality. Instead of clippers, staff uses scissors to make sure your dog is not only getting the right cut for the breed, but the right cut for its particular body as well. Just like every human is different so is every dog, says Tang. Tang is a certified master groomer and although employees are also certified she does in-house training to meet “Pawfect Spa standards.” The spa also has about 30 different types of shampoos and a hand-fluff drying machine to leave your dog going home clean and beautiful. Dogs are also sent home with a bright yellow bandanna or bow courtesy of Pawfect Spa.

Tang and Tsui explain they listened to customer’s complaints about other groomers and then worked hard to make the Pawfect Spa experience different. Tang and Tsui, who own rough collies, plan to someday open additional locations in the city, provide the royal treatment to more of Toronto’s canine residents. To find out more about how your dog can get treated like royalty click here .

Urban Dog , 37 Parliament St., (416) 850-9077

It’s hard to own an active dog in the city. The Labrador Retriever, one of Canada’s most popular breeds, requires extensive exercise and almost all dogs require more play then a lonely apartment or condo can provide. Enter UrbanDog Canine Fitness & Spa.

Urban Dog features a 4,000 square feet playcare area with non-skid athletic flooring where your dog can spend all day running and playing with his of her friends. There are two play areas – one for large breeds and one for small. However there is lots of socializing between all dogs. If an older or less active larger dog gets tired of the constant action in the large-breed room they spend time with their smaller friends. You can also bring new puppies to playcare so they can meet different types of dogs of all different sizes. “It’s more like a dog park than a daycare,” says co-owner Susan Rupert. At UrbanDog pets are never crated and never left alone. The screening process to get into playcare is extensive. “We don’t make it easy and people appreciate that,” says Rupert. And if you want to find out what your pooch is up to while you’re at the office you can log on to the webcam between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily. Rupert says the webcam gives owners a sense of security and once when they were tracking hits to the site they saw 100 visitors in an hour. Playcare is available six days a week. Overnight services are also available for when you are out of town.
UrbanDog also has a spa for grooming and bathing appointments and a boutique full of beds, collars, leashes and tasty treats. UrbanDog has many popular brands of food and treats: Go Natural, Wellness, Fromm (with raw fruit and veggies in it), N-R-G (dehydrated dog food – raw or to cook). The boutique also offers choices for dogs suffering from allergies and all products are chemical and pesticide free and made with human grade materials – meaning you could eat it. Baked goods from local dog bakeries are also available. And speaking of treats, there’s human ones too – You can enjoy a cappuccino or espresso while you wait for your pet.

More that a fitness centre and spa, UrbanDog is often used as a community centre. It hosts birthday parties, complete with a meatloaf birthday cake with cream cheese icing and dog bone decorations. Who’s Walking Who, the dog-training group, holds events at the centre four nights a week. And the play area is rented for many doggie social events such as the Pugalug Halloween Party – Pugoween.

For more on UrbanDog’s services and products click here .

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