Posh Puppy Hotel

The small dog lies in the cubby

Let’s face it: When you see something called a “dog hotel,” it’s probably a boarding and daycare facility shined up like a new penny to make it look less like a large concrete room where dogs romp around and more like a playground for toddlers. The phrase “dog hotel” is anthropomorphism gone wild.

Twenty years ago, the “dog hotel” was a kennel where you took your dog when you went on vacation and he stayed there for 15 bucks a day. “Doggie daycare” was your neighbor’s house. Now your dog can stay in a “suite” for 80 bucks a night.

Which is OK. But it’s still not a hotel.

Until . . . The Pooch Hotel. There are five locations – two in Chicago and three in California, including the newest location in Hollywood. Woof la la.

Each dog has his own swanky room, roughly the size of a $2,000.00 a month New York City studio apartment, complete with cushy doggie bed (or a real bed, if you’re willing to pay for the Palace Suite). An overnight stay features turn-down service (a doggie mint on the pillow?) and a webcam where owners can watch their pets from their vacation villa in Bora Bora. From $50 to $100 a night, is this place worth it?

There’s a heated pool for the dogs, aquatic and traditional treadmills, TVs in some of the rooms, sofas, poochberry facials and pawdicures – all extra, of course. But still, how is it different from other dog facilities?

Simply put, the difference is in the hours of operation. Most “dog hotels” are staffed 24 hours a day, but The Pooch Hotel is staffed like a real hotel, ready to check canine guests in and out 24 hours a day. This means that if you have an emergency at 3 in the morning and need to drop your dogs off somewhere safe, you have an option. Brilliance! 

And no, The Pooch Hotel is not paying me to write this, but if they would like to pay me in poochberry facials, I’m sure we can work something out.

Pet owners spend nearly $4 billion a year in daycare, boarding, and grooming – and no wonder, with doggie inns like this one cropping up, where an overnight stay costs more than a decent room in a Vegas casino. But there’s no price on piece of mind.

The Pooch Hotel started out privately owned, but a little digging and I found that it had been acquired last year by the big box pet giant, Petco. Petco also recently rolled out “PoochPlay,” a daycare service inside a Petco store in Totowa, NJ, and will open another on in San Jose, CA, in the summer of 2012. Smart move, Petco.

Mom and Pop operations currently reign over doggie daycare, but there’s a new dog in town. This is significant, because it means that the big stores are starting to truly understand what dog owners are all about. Yes, we want our favorite brands at good prices, but we’ll still pay an extra dollar if there’s a closer store that carries them. But, we are willing to go out of our way for the immediate safety and happiness of our pets.

Could you ever have predicted, 20 years ago, that dog boarding would reach this level of posh-ish-ness? Is that a word? Poshicity? How did we go from “wire kennel run with a concrete floor” to “Presidential Suite with TV, couch, queen sized bed, and turn-down service” in just two short decades? Either we’re in a natural state of pet evolution or it’s the end of the world – I can’t tell which yet.

What do you think? Is this kind of thing over-the-top, or a natural progression of pets as part of the family? If pets are part of the family, why shouldn’t they be treated as least as well as we are? Or are we forgetting that dogs are dogs?

Personally, I’d love to have a dog hotel in my town with 24-hour access. My pooches don’t need the Presidential Suite, but they do need to be safe in case of an emergency. Poochberry facial? We’ll skip that. My dogs eat poop. The facial would just be insulting. Maybe The Pooch Hotel would give me the facial instead? I don’t know what a “poochberry” is, but I’m willing to give it a try.

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