If you're headed for one last summer vacation, but can't bring your pet along, check out the newest type of kennel: High-end "hotels" where it's OK to act like an animal.
The Early Show resident veterinarian Debbye Turner visited PETSuites The Pet Resort, just outside Cincinnati, Ohio, where a serene park setting with foliage, a soothing waterfall, and frolicking fish offers a perfect spot for a getaway. Just ask the barking guests.
Resort co-founder Tracy Mason says, "We are a resort; we are a hotel for dogs and cats. So we treat our guests appropriately."
That means that cats stay in "condos," not cages.
"They're condominiums, because they're built in the form of a townhouse, if you will," Mason explains, "They have four levels. If you have an outside room, they get to look out the window onto the bird feeders. Or if you have an interior room, we have aquariums actually built in between some of the rooms and then we have two 90-gallon aquariums where they can enjoy watching the fish as well."
Dogs have a choice: Standard 2-room "suites" or luxury townhouses, complete with ceiling fans, toddler beds, and televisions tuned to animal-themed programming, of course.
"We have a pit bull Lulu who stays here," Mason says as she offers a tour of a suite. "She is not happy when she watches the Animal Planet. It upsets her too much. So we've been asked to keep her television on the Food Channel. And that seems to make Lulu happy."
But if all this seems just a bit over the top, the animals aren't complaining. And neither are their owners.
Dog owner Kris Roach says, "Our dogs love it. They get groomed here and they have a great time. When we're on vacation, they're on vacation."
Prices here start at around $15 a night for cats, $18 for small dogs, and go up to $34 a night for the double penthouse. But it's the extras that bring in the profits - appropriately named private play sessions start at $5 a pop.
Mason explains, "We have the 'Charles Barkley,' which is a ball toss. We have the 'Frequent Flyer,' which is a Frisbee. We have some 'Beauty Shop Gossip' for little friends and we brush them and we talk to them about all the other pets in the facility. We have full-service grooming so whether your dog needs a massage or a nail trim, we have those kinds of services as well."
And since nothing's too good for dogs like Gertie, a stay includes a refreshing frozen treat that she really likes.
And the human clients like it, too. Business at PetSuites' two facilities is booming with three more locations planned to open within the next year. The success of these high-end kennels shows just how far owners will go for their friendly feline or precious pup.
Mason notes, "Our pets have taken on such a role to us now that they never did before. They are family members; they're companions; they're comforters. And I think we feel really good about giving them quality care. I think that makes us feel really good about ourselves as well."
Now, PetSuites Pet Resort is just one of many luxury kennels available to pet owners today. No longer just for the rich and famous, upscale kennels are sprouting up around the country from Jacksonville, Fla., to Milwaukee, Wis., so how do you find the kennel that's right for your pet?
- Get recommendations. Ask your veterinarian or ask the staff at your veterinarian clinic. They know who has a good reputation.
- Visit the kennel first and ask lots of questions. If your pet has special medical needs, make sure the kennel is able to take care of them.