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Boarding Kennels Go Upscale

It's late afternoon. Miniature feet bustle at the doorway, and energetic faces scan the parking lot with anticipation for their rides.

This is doggy day care at Canine Country Club and Feline Inn.

"We consider ourselves a five-star hotel for pets," says owner Joann Wershaw.

For dogs, boarding is $13-$40 a day. For cats, the cost is $10 to $18 a day.

Canine Country Club is part of a growing trend. "More and more people are treating their animals like children," Joann Wershaw says. "Many let their dogs sleep in bed with them. They're no longer the back yard dog."

So kennel owners are changing old ways of thinking. "It's about treating the animals like your own," says Wershaw.

Older animals or animals recovering from surgery may stay in the care unit. For pet owners spending the holidays out of town, Canine Country Club promises to ensure an enjoyable holiday for the animals: On Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, guests receive a home-cooked turkey-and-rice dinner.

And for the dog who has everything, consider a stay at one of the club's newly renovated casitas: all-inclusive suites embellished with stylish wallpaper, 13-inch TVs with VCR's and a selection of movies. Child-sized beds with lambswool padding give guests a place to snooze in luxury; a green-painted cement floor resembling grass, park benches and plastic trees offer a quiet, quasi-rustic setting.

Even the more modest kennels are nothing to sneeze at. Each comes with indoor-outdoor accommodations, heated floors and lambswool bedding.

And the food definitely beats table scraps; just look at the snacking options. While most owners limit after-dinner delights at home to dry, tasteless rawhide, guests at this luxury hotel have the option of polishing off a bowl of homemade, non-dairy ice cream or savory soup as a daily delicacy.

Then, of course, there's doggy day care. For a mere $10, sociable dogs can spend the day away from the monotony of an empty house.

For Benny, a Rottweiler who's been attending doggy day care for three years, the center is a home away from home.

"He loves everyone," says Benny's owner, Levia Nahary. "He's like Norm in Cheers; when he comes in, everyone yells 'Benny!'"

"We don't treat them like dogs in a kennel," Wershaw says. "We treat them like they're at home."

Cats aren't forgotten either. Their standard kennels come equipped with warm beds and a nice view of a community play area. There are also "condos" with bay windows, outside views, balconies and wooden scratching posts. Cats can stare for hours at cat-oriented nature videos: images of canaries, fish and chipmunks. There is a certified feline veterinary technician on duty at all times.

Canine Country Club and Feline Inn can get pretty expensive, especially for regular clients like Benny and owner Nahary. But neither seems to mind.

"It's expensive, but he's worth it to me,"> Nahary says. "He's been my best friend since he was the size of his own head. I want to make sure he's happy."

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