Hounds Indulge at Haute Couture Boutique

As the lives of Americans become more hectic, demand more time at work and less time at home with family, our loved ones often become second fiddle. But what if your loved one is a dog or a cat that depends on you to give him or her the love and daily attention they need? Look no further for the ultimate in creature comforts for your best friend. Even the pickiest of paws will be pampered at the posh Salon Poochini in Bay Harbor Islands, FL. This cage-free doggie daycare, hotel, and spa dotes on its pooches to ensure their every need is satisfied while away from home.

Most of the pets who come here fall into one of two categories: 1.) They have owners who work very long hours and don’t have the time to give their pawed-pals proper attention and mid-afternoon walks Monday through Friday, or 2.) They don’t stay at Poochini on a daily basis, but it provides a home away form home while owners are on vacation. One may even think that this mecca of canine indulgence provides more piece of mind for the owners than for their furry friends left behind. In fact, mommies and daddies dropping off seem more emotional than the “kid” they are leaving behind. And why not? This hotel and day care comes equipped with private rooms decorated with plush bedding, sofas and plasma TV’s for viewing pleasure– Animal Planet is the show of choice.

It seems the pets are quite content to spend their time in the fully-outfitted Poochini. On the day of my visit, I found a beautiful Goldendoodle (mix of Golden Retriever and Poodle) on her way out for a stroll, a tiny white Maltese (and regular customer) sitting on the lap of a Poochini worker, and Affen Pincher with a prominent under bite sprawled out on a paisley print sofa, giving me only a brief, nonchalant, over-the-shoulder- glance, as if to suggest I was disrupting his watching “Breed All About It,” on the flat screen in his room. Plus, each suite comes equipped with musical sounds to soothe the hounds. The facility offers everything from Mozart to Bach to Sinatra.

When furry guests get hungry, Poochini will serve pets as instructed by each individual owner. Special dietary needs, or medications will be noted and followed just as if your pet was at home. Finicky eaters shouldn’t fret. Poochini comes equipped with its own snack bar, called Sydney’s Snack Bar; named after a lovable but full-figured black Pug which is a regular at the salon. Whatever the request, the owners of Poochini, Erica and Christie Richter, promise that each guest’s specific culinary needs will be met.

But, feline owners never fear. This pet hotel also offers a separate “kitty quarters” called the “Sanctuary,” where cats can enjoy a peaceful environment away from the dogs, and get quality time with the nannies and supervised opportunities to explore. Caregivers keep a watchful eye on all guests to continually assess their emotional well-being.

Studies have shown that dogs, as pack animals, are extremely sensitive and social beings. It is necessary and natural for them to interact, play and socialize with other canines. These “friendships” help to alleviate the feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. Poochini’s founders have taken this philosophy and used it as a base for their company’s programming. The care center has structured doggie playtime-proven to prevent destructiveness and boredom; as well as dedicated one-on-one time for each pet with a “nanny” caregiver-shown to build trust, comfort, and ease the nervousness related to change in environment.

In the last five years, the concept of doggie daycare has taken off. In a Yellow Pages search of Miami, 10 specialty care centers-not including veterinarian boarding facilities-were found. There is a demand and doggie daycares are popping up all over to supply. However, Salon Poochini was the only facility that touted itself as an ultra-luxury pet pampering boutique. It also showed during my tour that it is dedicated to personalized, private, hands-on attention. Of course, everything comes with a price.

Reservations are required, so call ahead. With proper medical records and vaccinations, your pet can be accommodated for $35 per day, or $55 per overnight, which includes meals and teeth brushing. If your pet stays overnight, he or she must be bathed prior to departure and bath prices start at $25. First time guests will have to pay $25 for a two-hour interview and temperament assessment before being admitted as a client. They must also provide proof of vaccinations, heartworm, flea medication etc.

As if grooming, daycare, overnight hotel and snack bar weren’t enough, Poochini also offers a haute couture boutique of everyday necessities, clothing, treats, bedding, collars and leashes. They also provide a la carte services such as nail clipping, teeth brushing and a 20-minute professional canine massage session.

This facility gets 5-paws!

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