Offices are reopening and vacation rentals are filling up. It’s great news for travelers and workers eager to get back to the swing of things. But our furry friends, so delighted to spend nearly every moment with us at home this last year, are in for a rude awakening.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. To ease them through the transition, how about treating them to a bit of pampering and fun?
These local doggy day cares and boarding facilities are filled with luxurious amenities, delicious treats and plenty of new friends to distract your pooch. With report cards and live webcams, you’ll be able to monitor how much fun they’re having.
Bay Paws Pet Resort in Clearwater
Lawyer Christina Holtz opened Bay Paws Pet Resort in August 2020. After taking her own pet to a doggy day care, she was inspired by her family’s human hotel business and decided to get into the pet hotel industry.
“We’re an entirely new company and new brand,” she said. “We unfortunately opened right during COVID, which was not part of the plan.”
Despite being new on the scene, Bay Paws has an impressive array of services. In addition to offering boarding, day care, grooming, bathing and spa services, the company has a mobile app that lets humans check in on their pet 24/7.
The goal is to help customers feel more comfortable leaving their animals. The facility has 81 suites for dog boarding. Twelve are private luxury suites, complete with beds that have little headboards and doggy sofas. Empty picture frames are available so families can personalize the space with their own photos. Pet parents can also bring their own blankets and toys from home.
“In looking at the services that we provided with the boarding, we wanted to make it resort style,” Holtz said.
Bay Paws also offers spacious junior suites, executive suites and cat condos. Boarding staff members work from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., so working pet parents can schedule early and late pickups in advance. Employees also are experienced in pet CPR and first aid.
During the day, Bay Paws offers group play, enrichment day care and puppy preschool. Customers can add on natural treats for their pets, as well as puzzle toys and frozen Kongs.
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Bay Paws is looking to expand with second and third locations in the next year or so. For now, find Bay Paws at 13662 Automobile Blvd., Clearwater. Learn more at baypaws.com.
J. Tails in St. Petersburg
A former vet tech and pet store manager, Jessica Garvin moved to St. Petersburg with a Great Dane and struggled to find a place that would watch her dog. She noticed all of the options she found charged extra for picture updates and other services. So in 2014, Garvin set out to launch her own modern pet care business.
At first, J. Tails started with in-home care — dog walking, cat sitting and shuttle services. All pet care came with text message updates, pet pictures for owners during the day and even updates during walks.
“The assurance is there and especially the transparency,” Garvin said.
In 2018, J. Tails opened the Barkyard for doggy day care and boarding. The facility boasts 4,000 square feet of climate-controlled indoor play space, with more than 12,000 square feet for dogs to play outside. During the day, pup parents can use live webcams to watch their animals splash in the wading pools, socialize during group play or jump around streams of bubbles.
After pickup, each pet gets a detailed daily report card. The reports include adjectives to describe how the dog was feeling that day and notes on the activities they did and which other dogs they were friends with for the day.
Customers can also add on enrichment puzzles, a basic commands refresh or tasty treats. (Raw goat milk and cookies from St. Petersbark, bone broth and fresh produce are all on the menu.) In July, J. Tails is introducing a new unlimited membership program, which will include unlimited day care and two baths a month, complete with nail trims and ear cleaning.
J. Tails hosts quarterly events, like an Easter carrot dig, a foam party for humans and dogs and a fall pumpkin smash. J. Tails will also throw your pup a birthday party, inviting a few of their favorite furry friends from day care to enjoy a pet-friendly cake.
To check out events, pricing and how to book a free first day for your dog at J. Tails, 2616 Sixth Ave. S, St. Petersburg, visit jtailssp.com.
Puppy Palace of South Tampa
Of all the amenities at Puppy Palace of South Tampa, general manager Heather Leseney’s favorite is the saltwater pool. The shaded outdoor walk-in pool has no steps, which is great for older dogs. And the saltwater is refreshing for pups, helping with any skin issues.
The owners can tune into their dog’s pool time fun during the day, thanks to a webcam.
Puppy Palace has two locations to choose from (the other one is in Brandon), and offers boarding, grooming and day care.
At the South Tampa location, a large outdoor playground is broken into multiple zones dedicated to big and small dogs. Animals undergo a temperament test to see which play group they’ll be assigned to. Have no fear if your dog is skittish or temperamental. Puppy Palace provides solo day care with one-on-one playtime at no additional cost.
“I make sure that I hire people that do have really good experience,” Leseney said. “I want to make sure that anybody that I have here is going to treat the pets as if it were their own pet.”
To keep dogs cool, especially short-nosed dogs that can’t stand the Florida heat for long, Puppy Palace has mister fans and kiddie pools set up outside. A large indoor play yard features climbing ramps, tennis balls and bubbles.
Boarding is available for cats and dogs. If owners don’t want to bring their own food, kennel food is provided at no extra cost. Dogs that board enjoy extra cuddle time and walks, as well as large suites that each have their own webcam and televisions. At night, Leseney makes sure that each TV screen is left on.
“I feel like it makes them feel like they have company,” she said.
Puppy Palace of South Tampa is at 4313 W Pearl Ave. The Brandon location is at 802 E Lumsden Road. Visit tampapuppypalace.com to learn more.