Sarasota's 10 Best Pet Perks

By staff January 1, 2006

DOGGIE DAY CARE Dawn and Peter Brittain run Animal House like a children's daycare center. Three large playrooms are staffed by alpha humans who ensure the canines play nicely. New dogs go through a five-hour "doggie interview" to discover how they'll adapt to open play. Whether your dog stays all day or overnight, he'll come back to you refreshed and panting for his next visit. 42 Vic Edwards Road, Sarasota. (941) 378-3393.

CREATURE COMFORTS Bend no more over bathtubs. Dogma Boutique and Spa offers waist-high tubs for washing your best friend's fur. Choose from four luscious, all-natural shampoos. Owners Roxanne and Barry Lott will help with nail clipping if you're skittish. While there, check out such products as Isabella Kane collars and Stella & Chewy's all-natural freeze-dried food and treats. If Rover acts up during his bath, Roxanne, a canine behaviorist counselor, can intervene. 1816 Hillview St., Sarasota. (941) 957-4241.

PUTTING ON THE DAWG Gidget-Gear by Tiki features retro, classic and downright wacky fashions for four-legged creatures, including workout togs, casual and formal wear, rainy-day gear, and even matching human-pet lounge sets. Laura Anderson and Tiki Beauzay, who named the company after her Bedlington terrier, feature faux furs, velour jogging suits, pet bling and more in designs that are edgy, functional and absolutely adorable. (941) 355-2220.

DOGGIE DHARMA, KITTY KARMA Holistic medicine treats the whole person-er, animal. Cynthia Juday, D.V.M., C.V.A., of the Integrative Medical Center offers not only traditional Western treatments for small animals, but also holistic treatments, including veterinary acupuncture, massage therapy, Reiki, dietary consultation, homeopathy, and herbal and traditional Chinese medicine. Juday designs treatment to "ensure a more vibrant state of health and to assist the patient's own vital force in its healing." 3646 Birky St., Sarasota. (941) 954-4771.

HEAL, SPOT! They can't tell us what ails them, so spiritual healer Lynn McGonagill at Lightworks searches pets' psyches for the source of their phobias and behavioral problems. This CPA-turned-healer says disharmony arises when our "soul fragments itself" (often after trauma), and it's her job to rejoin these fragments with "white light and love that comes from the universal healing energy." (941) 921-3613.

PUPPY RUB Licensed and certified dog masseuse Susan Dudovitz combines traditional massage and acupressure to increase balance, enhance flexibility and energize dogs' minds and bodies. She says it's a skill that most pet owners can learn, and she's happy to teach. "Of all the wonderful things we do for our dogs, massage should top the list." Paws and Relax. (941) 323-5041.

PUGS ON PARADE Folks come from far and wide to watch more than 100 wrinkle-faced, muscle-bound, jaunty canines strut their stuff at the Pug Parade. Past costume contest participants have included Mable Ringling and Donald Trump (complete with comb-over hairpiece). Free, and great fun for humans and canines alike. Proceeds go to the Humane Society of Sarasota County. Feb. 25, 2006, The Adventure Park, Lakewood Ranch. (941) 487-1116.

DAY AT THE BEACH Our beaches are wonderful-unless you're a dog and banned from paradise. Exception to the rule: Paw Park at South Brohard Beach in Venice. Here your pooch can romp in the sand and splash in the glistening Gulf-without a leash. This one-acre, fenced-in park offers human amenities, too, including picnic tables, benches, showers, and drinking fountains. Open daily from 8 a.m. until dusk. South Brohard Beach, 1600 Harbor Drive S., Venice.

THE DOG (AND CAT) WHISPERER Like Dr. Doolittle, Barbara Linick talks to her animals, and they answer with contented grunts and purrs. Linick owns Tamiami Tails, a dog-and-cat grooming salon with a little bit extra-like the cageless waiting area, complete with chenille cushions, classical music and an air purifier. There's also a salt-soak massage bath, all-natural skincare products, and handmade designer bows for the finishing touch. 2811 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. (941) 359-9951.

PORTRAITS OF LOVE Mary Detweiler and Gayle Wardner know how precious a painting of your favorite pet can be; their work captures the personalities of a host of critters for the humans who love them. Examples can be seen at Wet Noses on St. Armands Circle. Co-owner Carol Angelotti says these true-to-life images in pastels or oils are the perfect gift for the horse, dog or cat lover. We agree. 472 John Ringling Blvd., St. Armands. (941) 388-3647.

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