The Cushy Life of the Westchester Pet

Outrageous oppurtunities to lavish love- a lotsa cash- on your most lovable and least demanding family member



A Pet’s Guide to the Cushy Life

 

Loving Westchester pet owners let their animal

affections run wild (and their wallets empty)

with designer clothing for Fido, gourmet food for Fiffi,

and emotional counseling for Fluffy

 

By Karen Odom

 

Whoever said, “It’s a dog life,” didn’t spend much time around Westchester’s pampered pooches. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, we spent $34.3 billion on our animal companions last year—and a large portion of that cash went for things a lot fancier than kibble and kitty litter. Among the new “must-haves” for pampered pets are: digital ID tags, faux mink coats, monogrammed sweaters for dogs, designer cages and manicures (with nail polish!) for birds, feline spas, plus leather pet carriers with cellphone and water-bottle holders. You might say there’s no shortage of dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, and other animals that are living high on the hog (er, person) these days.

 

Here are some of the local ways to say “I Love You” to your pet, if money is no object.

 

Fancy Foods»

Nothing says love like a good hot, home-cooked meal. That goes for dogs, too. Janice Campbell’s new, Manhattan-based Doggy Chef business (917-312-4198) features fresh, all-organic ingredients (primarily purchased from—where else?—Whole Foods). Sample meals, proportioned to the size of the dog, include turkey burgers with vegetables and brown rice, spaghetti and meatballs, and chicken soup. Doggy Chef meals, which average $21.95 each plus the cost of delivery, can be freeze-packed and shipped. 

 

Daycare»

To help your dog behave better—you know, share his toys and bones and not bite when another dog comes-a-sniffing—Best Friends Pet Resort and Salon offers a doggy daycare program in half of its 40 facilities, including Norwalk (520 Main St., Norwalk, CT, 203-879-1010) and Chestnut Ridge (269 Red Schoolhouse Rd., Spring Valley, NY, 845-371-4000). This spring a new 21,000-square-foot center is scheduled to open in White Plains (1 Brockway Pl.) with an on-site veterinary clinic, a grooming salon, bathing room, and 194 two-room suites or luxury villas for boarding. “It may sound a little frivolous,” says Best Friends spokesperson Deb Bennetts, “but dog daycare really is a good program because dogs are so social. Otherwise, dogs get bored, frustrated, or suffer from separation anxiety, which can result in bad behaviors at home.” To enroll your pet, you and your pet are “interviewed.”

 

In addition to the mix and mingle opportunities at her doggy daycare center, Tails R Waggin’ (22 Haven St., Elmsford, 914-345-3385), owner Sis Magner offers her daycare clients the option of an overnight stay in an intimate setting, namely, Magner’s own bedroom (“I have individual pillows for each dog but most end up sleeping in my bed. They have the run of the place”) as an alternative to kennel boarding at an additional cost of $10 over the $30 daycare fee.

 

Loving Care»

Like their human companions, pets apparently enjoy a soothing massage, too. That’s the specialty of Patricia Nally Tagle, licensed equine and canine massage therapist, who owns and runs Asvassage (923 Saw Mill River Rd., Ardsley, 917-385-0577). For $75, Tagle provides a one-hour hands-on “therapeutic” massage, and, what’s more, she does it at her client’s home.

 

Who Let the Dogs Inn?»

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you have to leave Fido at home. Thanks to the Love That Dog program, launched in 2003 by Starwood Hotel and Resorts (the Sheraton parent company), dogs (and sometimes cats) can lie next (or pretty darn close) to their owners at the Sheraton, Westin, and W hotels in North America; the Stamford Sheraton (2701 Summer St., 203-363-2200) and Westin (One First Stamford Place, 203-967-2222) are closest to Westchester residents. Starwood treats its four-legged guests to the level of luxury its two-legged guests are accustomed, offering custom-designed pet beds plus doggie robes, leashes and collars at some Westins, and a check-in package of doggie goodies and turn-down bedtime treat at W hotels.

 

Other Westchester area hotels that welcome four-legged companions include the Renaissance Westchester (80 W. Red Oak Lane, White Plains, 914-694-5400), Tarrytown Hilton (455 S. Broadway, 914-631-5700), extended-stay Summerfield Suites Westchester by Wyndham (101 Corporate Park Dr., White Plains, 914-251-9700), Rye Town Hilton (699 Westchester Ave., Rye Brook, 914-393-6300), Marriott’s Residence Inn Westchester (5 Barker Ave., White Plains, 914-761-7700), and Holiday Inn Mount Kisco (1 Holiday Inn Dr., Mount Kisco, 914-241-2600). Non-refundable pet fees range from $10 per day to $100 for the stay.

 

Talking with the Animals»

Pets are known to help relieve depression in their human companions, but what about their own emotional needs? “Animal communicator” David Louis (518-674-0057), an “intuitive” counselor, says he helps animal lovers understand and make decisions regarding their terminally ill pets, manage emotional issues like separation anxiety or self-destructive behaviors, resolve relationship issues and bring peace within a multi-animal home, or just provide greater insight and deepen the relationship with a beloved pet. Louis will come to your home ($100 plus travel expenses for an hour session) and work with your pet in person or do a phone session using a photo ($75). He also claims to be able to contact the spirits of deceased pets. Louis’s clients are primarily dogs, cats, and horses, but he also works with birds, ferrets, reptiles, hedgehogs, and “a chicken here and there.”

 

Limo Service»

Can’t get your precious pet to the vet or a play date? Call AA’s Portable Paws (845-526-3131). Based in Putnam County, Portable Paws also services Westchester and Fairfield Counties, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. Although core hours are between 10 am and 3 pm Monday through Friday, owner Alice Armao says she follows a flexible schedule “within reason,” including providing airport runs at 4 or 5 in the morning, and even Saturday service for $10 extra. Armao, a retired NYPD officer, transports dogs, cats, birds, and even snakes, as long as her own safety can be ensured. Rates range from $40 to $70. Fees for service to and from area airports: Westchester and Stewart (start at $105); LaGuardia (start at $115); JFK ($125); and Newark (start at $135).

 

Designer Duds»

Sisters Eva and Eleonor Hallströms’ Hartsdale business, E&E Hallström Haute Couture (6 Carlyle Pl., Hartsdale, 914-949-2781) specializes in handmade fashions for “dogs with discriminating taste.” Of course, these fashions may be just a wee bit smaller than yours, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself trying to squeeze into them. E&E Hallström’s limited collections (no more than 10 per outfit, split between 4 sizes) and one-of-a-kind custom creations are made to ensure, Eva Hallström says, “the chances of ever encountering another dog wearing the same design will be very slim” (after all, how do you think your dog will feel showing up at a Bark Mitzvah in the same frilly black number as the next door neighbor’s dog?). Fashions run from $90 to $240.

 

If your pet has haute couture taste, but you have an off-the-rack budget, consider All Paws (31 Purchase St., Rye, 914-921-1690), a “gourmet pet store” that offers the pampered pet all things fun and fashionable, including a pet “barkery.” Your pet can be outfitted in a shearling coat ($100), cashmere sweater ($72), or formal wear, not to mention a Burberry collar ($34), coat ($60 or $120), leash ($34), and bed ($90). There are even pearl collars for about $300.

 

Photography»

Photographing animals is Michael Henes’s pet passion. A veterinarian by trade (he founded and ran Croton Animal Hospital), Henes launched Mike Henes Pet Photography (914-271-6855) three years ago as an outgrowth of his interest in photography. What began as a sideline eventually evolved into a bona fide business, and Henes now splits his time between veterinary work and photography. His photos are taken in natural settings—he prefers working outdoors in his customers’ backyards or in parks. “I’ll just shoot and shoot and shoot. I may take 200 to 300 pictures.” Henes charges $175 for the shoot itself, plus the cost of individual prints ranging from $15 for a 4” x 6” print, to $60 for an 11” x 14” print; specially priced multi-picture packages are also available.

 

Time to Party!»

For those special occasions in your pet’s life that you want to celebrate, there’s the Bow Meow Barkery and Munchinette (466 Ashford Ave., Ardsley, 914-693-1110) that specializes in all things celebratory. The fare includes cannolis, peanut butter goobers, and paw fingers, or other delights like Dog-Iva chocolates, ice cream sandwiches, turnovers, and burgers, all from $.50 to $3 each. Owner Joey Horan is ready to cater your pet’s special event with personalized “cakes,” trays filled with favorite treats, gift baskets, or doggy bags for party guests. The usual rules of event planning apply: place your order well in advance, allow plenty of lead time, and be flexible.

 

If, after an afternoon of partying that’s gone to the dogs, you have extra special cleaning needs, call The Golden Horn (350 Mamaroneck Ave., Mamaroneck, 914-670-6666). Its specialty: removing pet stains from Oriental and other treasured rugs. Stain removal can run anywhere from $100 to more than $2,000, depending on the damage. Rugs are returned within two weeks.

 

For cleaning wall-to-wall carpeting or upholstery, try USA Carpet Cleaning in Buchanan and Cortlandt Manor (914-788-1824). “We’re not miracle workers, but we do a good job,” says co-owner Sharon Salameh. To minimize permanent damage from pet mishaps, Salameh suggests Scotchguarding carpeting and upholstery as a preventive measure; when mishaps do occur, have rubbing alcohol or baby wipes on hand to immediately tackle stains. Salameh’s No. 1 tip: tackle the stain right away.

 

All Dogs Go to Heaven»

When the inevitable day comes to say goodbye, the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery (75 N. Central Park Ave., Hartsdale, 914-949-2583), the country’s first pet cemetery, has been the final resting place for beloved pets since 1896. Says Director Ed Martin, “We’re really providing a service—making people feel better from their loss.” And if you really can’t bear to say goodbye to Fluffy, you can elect to have her cremated remains returned to you in a tasteful tin. Depending on cremation or burial, the costs can range from $250 to $1,600—plus a $37 annual plot maintenance fee.

 

Freelance writer Karen Odom owns no pets but has the ultimate respect and admiration for those who do.

 

The County’s Most Popular Pooches

 

Make no bones about it: Westchester has gone to the dogs (we adore ‘em).

A look at some of the county’s most common canine breeds

 

Golden Retriever

The Big Woof: Medium-length, fluffy light-to-dark golden (duh) colored coat

Weight: More than you’ll want to carry  Height: About knee high

Animal Attraction: Real sweet but, let’s be honest, real dumb, thanks to years of inbreeding

Pet Peeve: Expect to find blonde hair on every piece of black clothing you own

Cause for Pause: Besides low IQ? Hip dysplasia

Fun Fact: Frequent award-winning obedience competitors; fabulous with a Frisbee 

Most go to heaven after: 10-12 years

How much is that doggie in the window? $700-$800

 

Bichon-Frise

The Big Woof: Softly curled fur (think a relaxed perm), usually all white with some beige or gray

Weight: About the same as a newborn babe Height: (M) 9-12”; (F) 9-11”

Animal Attraction: Clever and spunky, plus nearly hypo-allergenic

Pet Peeve: Can be snippy and difficult to housebreak 

Cause for Pause: Prone to have watery eyes, cataracts, skin/ear ailments, epilepsy

Fun Fact: Look great in a Burberry tote

Most go to heaven after: 15+ years

How much is that doggie in the window? $300-$500

 

Cocker Spaniel

The Big Woof: Sport those signature long silky ears and wavy soft medium-length fur in black, black-and-tan, or a mix of colors

Weight: 15-30 lbs. Height: (M) 15 1/2”; (F) 14 1/2”

Animal Attraction: Make good family members; confident yet obedient

Pet Peeve: Prepare to sacrifice your Oriental rug

Cause for Pause: Vulnerable to cataracts, glaucoma, and trick knee

Fun Fact: Oprah Winfrey’s chocolate cocker is named Solomon; Charlize Theron’s two cockers answer to Denver and Delilah

Most go to heaven after: 12-15 years

How much is that doggie in the window? $300-500

 

Shih-Tzu

The Big Woof: Tiny with a double coat of long fur on the outside and even warmer under coat

Weight: 9-16 lbs. Height: Up to 11”

Animal Attraction: Don’t let the small size fool you; they make good watchdogs

Pet Peeve: Snappy if surprised or peeved; tend to wheeze and snore (could be overkill if you’re already sleeping with your spouse)

Cause for Pause: Can suffer with ear, eye, and respiratory problems, spinal disc disease, and can gain weight easily

Fun Fact: Bill Gates and Vanessa Williams are among many Shih-Tzu fans

Most go to heaven after: 15+ years

How much is that doggie in the window? $300-500

 

Yorkshire Terrier

The Big Woof: Purse pocket-sized with long, soft, wispy fur, usually black and tan

Weight: 7 lbs. Height: 6-7”

Animal Attraction: Easy to train (and tote around)

Pet Peeve: Aggressive to strangers (both the two-and four-legged kind); like to bark and can be difficult to housebreak

Cause for Pause: Sometimes victims of bronchitis, early tooth decay, and delicate digestions

Fun Fact: Pop Princess Britney Spears mothers a Yorkie named Baby

Most go to heaven after: 12-15 years

How much is that doggie in the window? $500-800

 

Labrador Retriever

The Big Woof: Muscular; wear yellow, black, or chocolate-colored coats

Weight: Let’s just say, won’t fit in your attaché case or suitcase, for that matter

Height: Tall enough to sniff visitors where they shouldn’t

Animal Attraction: Loving, smart, and easily trained, ergo the favorite guide dog breed

Pet Peeve: Will eat anything not nailed down; as pups, may make your neighbor’s kid with ADHD look catatonic

Cause for Pause: Frequently victims of hip and elbow dysplasia and eye disorders

Fun Fact: First lab Seamus Clinton’s coat color happens to coincide with our favorite flavor—chocolate

Most go to heaven after: 10-12 years

How much is that doggie in the window? $700-$900

 

Cockapoo

The Big Woof: A poodle and American cocker spaniel hybrid

Weight: Varies, with minis weighing in at less than a stuffed Vuitton carry-on Height: 14-15”

Animal Attraction: The party animals of the dog park set

Pet Peeve: Put the groomer on speed-dial

Cause for Pause: Prone to skin problems

Fun Fact: Ashley Judd snuggles with a pair of ‘em 

Most go to heaven after: 13-15 years

How much is that doggie in the window? $300-800

 

Beagle

The Big Woof: Small-sized with short fur

Weight: (M) 22-25 lbs.; (F) 20-23 lbs. Height: (M) 14-16”; (F) 13-15”

Animal Attraction: Like a good date: affectionate and not too intrusive

Pet Peeve: Don’t like to be left alone so, unless you live on a sprawling estate, your neighbors may grumble about their loud howls

Cause for Pause: Vulnerable to heart disease, epilepsy, eye and back problems, chondroplasia (dwarfism)

Fun Fact: Were the best friends of former U.S. Presidents Grover Cleveland and Lyndon B. Johnson

Most go to heaven after: 12-15 years

How much is that doggie in the window? $300-500

 

Dachshund

The Big Woof: Three types (short, wired, or long-haired); long but with absurdly short legs (a.k.a. “hot dogs”)

Weight: Standard variety? About the same amount you packed on during the holidays (that was 20 lbs., your scale said, yes?) Height: Standard variety–14-18”

Animal Attraction: Spunky and loyal

Pet Peeve: Protect your rhododendrons (they like to dig) and your visitors’ fingers (they can be quick to bite)

Cause for Pause: Spinal disc problems, heart disease, urinary tract problems, diabetes

Most go to heaven after: 12-15 years

How much is that doggie in the window? $300-$500

 

 

Poodle

The Big Woof: Medium to large with tight springy curls of fur in black, brown, white, café-au-lait, or apricot color

Weight: (M) 45-70 lbs.; (F) 45-60 lbs. Height: 15” or more

Animal Attraction: Highly trainable, smart, and fun-loving

Pet Peeve: Don’t like to be left alone

Cause for Pause: Some genetic diseases, allergies, skin conditions, prone to bloat

Fun Fact: Have been used to sniff out truffles

Most go to heaven after: 12-15 years or more

How much is that doggie in the window? $300-$500