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Pawtopia
How and where to pamper, dress, feed and wash your cool cat or yuppy puppy

By NAN BIALEK

 

Your pet can be your confidante, your closest companion in good times and bad. If a pat on the head just doesnít seem to cut it, there are plenty of ways to pamper your pet with style.

Beauty and the Beast

When pets need an extra pop of posh, their owners take them to places like Stylín Companions Pet Spa in Brookfield.

Doggy clients are free to roam in the salon, says owner Melissa Rohda, so they can socialize and relax. When they need a break, they can stretch out on "diva beds" covered in plush velvet and breathe in the air scented with aromatherapy fragrances.

Every furry friend trots out of the place with its own look, based on its personality, and each gets a Furminator treatment to deal with shedding, and a lavender spritz. Pedicures are available in 30 colors, Rohda says, and if the owner wants the petís tail or ears dyed a pretty shade of pink, Stylín Companions will oblige.

A blueberry treatment brightens the faces of dogs with white fur, Rohda says, but almost all dogs seem to enjoy the extra attention of the facial massage that comes with it.

No matter what the owners may order, Rohda says the final decision on spa services is up to the dog or cat. "We never force or push animals to do anything they donít want to do," she says. "Ninety-nine percent of the dogs that come in here, youíll see them pulling their owners to get in."

Rohda is the proud owner of two Bernese mountain dogs, Chopper and Lana.

Cori Hansen, owner of Vanity Fur in Shorewood, offers blueberry facial scrubsfor lucky dogs in the North Shore. The shopís spa packages can include a bubble bathfoot scrub to exfoliate the paws.

"Itís kind of an aromatherapy idea," Hansen says. "You can tell, (the scent) seems to calm them down."

Vanity Fur offers full-service grooming as well as self-service grooming for all breeds, as well as cats. However, cats donít seem to enjoy the attention as much as the average mutt.

"With cats, it usually means getting it done as quickly as possible," Hansen says.

Hansenís mixed-breed dog, Dixie, watches the rubber chicken toys fly out of the shop, a favorite of both doggies and kids alike.

Collar provided by Hounds Around Town, Whitefish Bay.


Walk-in Wash

If youíd rather wash the dog or cat yourself, Flying Fur in Cedarburg can show you sure-fire techniques for making the bath enjoyable for you and your pet.

Owner Cathy Reid notes that the shop features plastic tubs because dogs can get nervous when their nails clatter on the stainless steel variety. Ramps help big pooches navigate their way into the cleaning station without trauma.

Flying Fur supplies shampoos and conditioners, combs and brushes, towels and chamois, as well as high velocity dryers to blow out the undercoat. Dogs who arenít too sure about that should be approached slowly from the back, suggests groomer Monica Umbs, until they get used to the idea.

"It takes a little bit of training and some patience," Umbs says.

Street Chic

Is your pet ready for the runway? Slip her into the latest designer frocks from Hounds Around Town Pet Boutique in Whitefish Bay.

If dresses arenít your dogís style, says owner Lisa Peterson, take a look at the matching collar and leash sets all decked out in fresh summer looks like hounds tooth checks, ruffled yellow linen and blue and white seersucker.

Your baby will be ready to face her fans with a fresh shampoo from Milwaukeeís own opulent canine line, Isle of Dogs. Peterson also recommends Furbulous, a chemical-free shampoo for dogs with environmentally conscious owners.

Match your dogís boudoir to your dťcor with a bed covered in a custom fabric, or give her a private retreat with a doggy bed that looks like a seaside cabana or a gingerbread house with a plump, pink pillow.

Petersonís Bernese mountain dog, Cooper, presides over the shop, while her golden retriever, Sophie, holds down the fort at home.

Me Time

You wonít find "No Dogs Allowed" signs at Community Bark Dog Wash and Coffee Bar in Bayside, where, says owner Andrew Appel, "People just come and hang out with their dogs and have a good time."

Kick back with your buddy and sip Community Barkís special Alterra coffee flavor, Best Friend Blend, named by two winners of an online contest.

Dogs can loll around the Barker Lounge with other canine companions while their humans trade stories about who has the baddest bud.

So far, says Appel, no doggy romances have bloomed. Perhaps the next Movie Night at Community Bark will spark some interest. Appel screens canine classics like "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective" so owners and their dogs can enjoy a night out at the movies together.

The whole point, says Appel, is to build a community of dog fans who just like to be part of the pack. Be sure to meet Appelís 125-pound Newfoundland, Lily, Community Barkís official greeter.

Fine Feasting

To dogs, fine dining means just one thing: treats. Many are not particular about what constitutes a treat, but discriminating pets prefer freshly baked, preservative-free goodies at The Doggy Bag in Oconomowoc.

Owners Lori and Eric Eck have conjured up Ginger Squirrels, Apple CinnaCats, brownies and pizza for dogs, and tuna, salmon and organic catnip munchies for cats. Few dogs can resist the peanut butter sandwich cookies and peanut butter hearts, Eric Eck says.

When itís party time, the Ecks will bake your dog a birthday cake to take out, or to enjoy with a few buddies at the shop. Watch them sink their chops into banana walnut, carob chip or a bone-shaped brownie cake, decorated with your petís name and age.

The Doggy Bag has helped produce Mexican-themed galas with pi-atas, princess parties and a karaoke event that was quite the howl. Entertainment includes bobbing for sausages and contests like "longest tail" and "biggest ears" so that all guests go home with a winnerís certificate, a treat bag and bragging rights.

While youíre at the shop, say hello to Duncan, a muttly mix of water dog, sheepdog and poodle adopted by the Ecks from Fluffy Dog Rescue.

Dream Vacations

When youíre out of town, treat your pet to a luxurious getaway at Spa Paw & Tail Premier Pet Resort and Daycamp in New Berlin. Fair warning, though: Spot may not want to come home.

Thatís because from the minute your dog or cat arrives, says owner Nina Race, they are given the royal treatment. Cage-free suites are furnished with whatever the pet parent brings along, such as a favorite blanket or toys. Dogs sprawl out on cots,and cats explore their two- or four-story kitty condos.

The itinerary for dogs includes all-day indoor and outdoor playtime with customized playgroups based on size and age. At bedtime, guests are gently tucked in for the night with turndown service.

The Seniors Lounge offers distinguished dogs lavish lodging with infrared beds to soothe arthritis or hip dysplasia, says Race.

Race says all-inclusive packages are available, with upgrades like private walks, gourmet treats, massages and facials.

Spencer, Raceís Chihuahua-Jack Russell terrier mix, is the concierge at the resort.

Doggy Dips

Think of it as a water park for dogs. Family-owned Feedbag Pet Supply in Mequon has just the thing for pups that love to make a splash.

The storeís indoor pool, heated to 82 degrees, is available in 30-minute rental increments, says owner Mark Haslam. A Feedbag Pet Supply staff member goes in the water with your pet, and owners are encouraged to hang out on the adjoining deck to interact with their dogs as they exercise in the water.

Haslam says the pool is the perfect prescription for dogs who need to burn off some calories, and for older pet owners who are unable to walk their pooches like they used to.

Feedbag Pet Supply rents the facility for doggy pool parties, Haslam says, and all dogs take a post-swim shower.

The 14-by-26-foot pool is great for teaching puppies how to swim, Haslam says. Dogs recovering from surgery use the pool for therapy, and older dogs with arthritis benefit as well.

Donít be surprised to see Haslamís 16-year-old chocolate Lab, Jasmine, swimming a lap, along with his black Labs, Rosie and Pepper.

Puparazzi

Whether your best friend is a bouncy puppy or a hound with a touch of gray around its muzzle, imagine a professional portrait of your pooch gracing the mantle.

Bob Prohaska of All Ears Pet Photography in Waukesha, and Stephanie Bartz of Wauwatosa, the Annie Leibovitz of dog photographers, both capture the essence of an animalís personality in the tilt of its tail or as it dives fearlessly into a pond.

Bartzís portraits are rendered primarily in black and white for a posh, classic look. Prohaska leans toward color. Both shoot on location to grab that moment when the dog is deliriously happy.

Be sure to groom your dog prior to the shoot and take him for a brisk walk to work off excess energy. Youíll be rewarded with a stunning portrait of your pet to admire forever. m