Pet owners in the region have no shortage of choices for pampering their four-legged, winged, and furry friends. Here are just a few of the more distinctive products, services, and places to try out.
Frozen dog treats at DownRiver Ice Cream
Located on the edge of the Great Marsh in Essex is DownRiver Ice Cream. The shop caters mostly to two-legged creatures, but owner Amy Ahearn wanted to expand the menu a bit.
So when she and her husband opened DownRiver six years ago, they came up with Rosie’s Treat, a scoop of their vanilla ice cream with dog biscuits on top, for $2. The ice cream is packed into a dome-shaped lid, preventing overly anxious pups from eating the whole thing in one bite. It makes dogs work harder, giving owners time to eat their ice cream.
DownRiver Ice Cream, 241 John Wise Ave., Essex; and 120 Newburyport Turnpike, Rowley; www.mydownrivericecream.com; 978-768-0102.
In Newburyport, burger and fries for dogs
For dog treats that do not resemble cardboard, there is Just Dogs of Newburyport, a five-year-old shop that decorates baked dog treats of all shapes and sizes.
One popular combination is the burger and fries. The fries ($2) are wheat-based, hand-cut, and flavored with Parmesan cheese. The burger ($3) consists of two shortbread-type treats for the bun, and a rolled-oats patty flavored with carob. The “ketchup” and “mustard” are yogurt-based coatings.
Owner Judy Hoover said the treats are made weekly and are all of human-grade quality. “What you’ll find is we use fewer ingredients, and it’s actually better for you,” she said.“I spend more time looking at what the dogs are eating than I do for myself.”
Just Dogs, 37 Pleasant St., Newburyport; justdogsnewburyport.com; 978-465-8400.
Leslie’s Retreat in Salem a perfect space for dogs
Open space is not easy to come by, let alone spaces meant especially for dogs. But that is what Leslie’s Retreat Dog Park in Salem is.
The park opened thanks to the work of the nonprofit Salem Play Areas for Canine Exercise (SPACE), and with donations from companies and people in the Salem area.
To use the park, owners pay $25 for a yearly Pooch Pass for each dog, which must be licensed and have rabies and distemper vaccinations. “It’s an important safety consideration,” SPACE board member Bart Hoskins said about the Pooch Pass. “The money goes to park upkeep and maintenance.” Leslie’s Retreat is open to residents of any town.
For more information, visit salemspace.org.
First-class products at Gone to the Dogs in Wakefield
At Gone to the Dogs in Wakefield, owners who want their furry friends to stand out can choose from such hard-to-find brands as Around the Collar, which features premium collars, harnesses, and leashes.
Owner Gina Swansburg, who opened the boutique nearly seven years ago, also can order custom designs from Around the Collar, including travel bags that are not available in the store. She said the brand has become more popular since the economy took a hit and consumers have looked for alternatives to more expensive brands.
Her store also carries Susan Lanci Designs, which specializes in high-end products for smaller dogs. Ceramic dinner bowls, sweaters and jackets, bedding, and dog toys can all be found at the store.
Gone to the Dogs, 55 Albion St., Wakefield; www.gonetothedogsgifts.com; 781- 245-6787.
Custom dog beds at Lilly & Abbie in Melrose
For people who want their dog to sleep on something a bit plusher than the average dog bed, there’s Lilly & Abbie of Melrose.
Customers can choose between two shapes, two fillings, four sizes, and more than 250 fabrics. For those with something specific in mind, owner Michelle Lessing can make a bed out of materials provided by the customer in the dimensions requested. Prices start at $125.
Lessing has about 20 years’ experience doing custom window treatments, and she began exploring other ideas when her sales took a hit during the recession a few years back.
“I thought it would be interesting to do something a little different,” Lessing said. So, in 2010, she started Lilly & Abbie, naming it after her two black Labs. The company also makes custom dog collars and leashes.
Lillie & Abbie; lillyandabbiedogbeds.com, or call 781-665-8331.
Traveling pet spa comes to you
Marco Ferreira wanted to eliminate the time pets spend traveling and waiting in cages, so he hit the road and brought grooming services directly to clients’ homes.
“When you go to people’s homes, you become a part of their family,” says Ferreira, stylist and owner of Romeo and Juliet Mobile Pet Spa. Services include baths, haircuts, and teeth cleanings, not to mention “pawdicures,” glitter nail polishes, baby powder cologne mist, feather hair extensions, and a bow or bandanna “to finish the look.”
Prices range from $5 manicures and blueberry facials to a $110 full grooming “royal treatment.” The mobile spa serves the Metrowest area, and accepts dog and cats “small enough to fit in the van.”
Romeo and Juliet Mobile Pet Spa; www. romeoandjulietmobile.com; 781-354-4875.
Barktoberfest at Nelson Street Park in Plymouth
All things canine will be celebrated early next month, when the Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce hosts the fifth annual Barktoberfest. The free event will include live entertainment and demonstrations as well as competitions such as loudest bark and fastest tail-wag.
“Last year was one of our biggest,’’ said Bob Nolet, the chamber’s director of communications and events. “We had over 2,000 people [who] came over the course of the afternoon.”
Barktoberfest organizers encourage only one dog per handler at the event. All dogs must have a current rabies vaccination; proof in the form of a valid tag or certificate must be available upon request.
Barktoberfest, Nelson Street Park, Plymouth; Oct. 4, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; www.plymouthbarktoberfest.com; 508-830-1620.
Pet photography by South Shore Pet Services
With South Shore Pet Services in Quincy, Jeremy Frazier found a way to combine his love of animals and his professional training at the New England School of Photography. The company offers dog walking and pet sitting in addition to a variety of photography services, from pet portraiture and family photos to coverage of special events like pet birthdays and adoptions.
With plenty of experience as a dog walker, Frazier said he’s been able to put pets at ease during photo sessions, allowing the true personality of the animal to shine.
Prices vary according to the client’s need, said Frazier.
South Shore Pet Services; www.southshorepetservices.com; 617-620-6798.
Pet reiki by Take the Lead Pet Care in Scituate
Nancy Rodgers used 16 years of experience in sales and marketing to turn her love for animals into a viable business. In addition to pet sitting and dog walking, Take the Lead Pet Care in Scituate offers pet reiki, a form of natural healing developed by Mikao Usui of Japan in the late-19th century.
According to Rodgers, pet reiki involves channeling life force energy through the practitioner’s hands into the pet; the procedure is painless and often feels warm and soothing, she said. “It’s great for a whole gamut of animals and helps reduce stress.”
Rodgers, a certified reiki master, performs the service in clients’ homes and charges $60 per treatment.
Take the Lead Pet Care; www.taketheleadpetcare.com; 781-378-1696.
Personalized pet sitting by Creature Comforts of Wareham
Whether you have a single pet or a whole menagerie, Lee Miller of Creature Comforts Pet Sitting in Wareham offers personalized pet sitting for when you’re away from home.
Miller, who was a veterinary technician for 17 years, runs the company herself and has no plans to take on employees. “The animals I take care of are like an extended family” she said. “I go to the animal’s house so that nothing changes for them.”
Miller’s rates vary according to the visit. She charges a minimum of $17 per visit for a single dog or cat, but said the rate for large animals like horses and livestock would not exceed $40. “For those with multiple pets, it can be far less expensive than boarding,” she said.
Creature Comforts Pet Sitting; www.creaturecomfortswareham.com; 508-291-3381.
Dog birthday cakes and cookies at Pawsmopolitan in Foxborough
Pawsmopolitan, a dog boutique in Foxborough, features a “Dog Barkery and Deli” section with a variety of all-natural and organic treats, cookies, and cakes.
“I rotate it pretty regularly, but I’ve got patties, links, cod skins, all kinds of things,” says owner Lori Dunbar. “I try to deal with local companies when I can.”
Dunbar says some of her most popular products are birthday cakes and cookies for dogs. The cakes are made with peanut butter and rolled oats and sell for $8. The cookies, made with rye flour, peanut butter, and molasses, are $4. All other bakery items are $2.19 each.
Pawsmopolitan, 18 School St., Foxborough; www.pawsmodog.com; 508-543-7298.
Yappy Hour’s doggy social scene in Brookline
Every third Thursday of the month, dogs and their owners get together in Brookline’s canine social spot: Yappy Hour at the Cause to Paws pet boutique on Beacon Street.
The furniture is pushed to the side, refreshments are served (for dogs and humans) and “it’s usually somebody’s birthday, so we’ll bake a cake,” says owner Terry Meyer, who has been hosting Yappy Hour since 2009.
Meyer describes the event as her “customer and neighborhood give-back.” She brings out “pupcakes” (peanut butter carrot bone-shaped cakes) for birthdays, holidays, and the occasional “Bark Mitzvah.”
Yappy Hour is free, and donations from other events at Cause to Paws go directly to various animal shelters in the Boston area.
Cause to Paws, 1386 Beacon St., Brookline; 617-738-7297; www.causetopaws.com.
Woofstock 2014 in Hudson
If your dog loves socializing and big fields full of fun, there’s Woofstock, a music festival for dogs in Hudson next Saturday.
The festival features vendors, animal shelters, a demonstration by canine law officers, a performance by Worcester band Secret Evil Plan, and a runway event for adoptable dogs to show their stuff on the “Green Carpet.”
Wooftstock started in 2010, intended as a one-time celebration of the Buddy Dog Humane Society’s 50th anniversary. But it quickly became an annual event.
Woofstock, Hudson Elks Lodge, 99 Park St., Hudson; Sept. 27 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; $7 donation requested for adults, free for under age 12; www.buddydoghs.com/special-events/
‘Monster Bark’ in Stow a terrifying treat for pets
Who doesn’t love to dress up for Halloween? Pet Source Inc. in Stow will host the seventh annual Monster Bark on Oct. 26, including a Monster March pet parade, a pet costume contest, prizes and raffles, face painting, and a coloring contest for kids.
The two-hour event is open to all ages, and all types of animals are welcome in the costume contest. “We get everything from hamsters to goats,” says manager Lisa Buzzell. “Anything you can dress up. It’s different every year.”
All proceeds from the event go to Phinney’s Friends, which helps low-income families and individuals care for their pets.
Monster Bark, 117 Great Road, Stow; Oct. 26, noon to 2 p.m.; 978-897-9599.
Stay away camp in Ashland pampers dogs
For dogs who are used to the finer things in life, there’s Camp Canine in Ashland.
The year-round doggie day care, boarding camp, and spa offers grooming, indoor and outdoor play areas, pools, and “snout cams” — webcams placed in the playing and sleeping area for clients to check on their dogs.
Owner Kim Cardiss says Camp Canine offers a more personal alternative to the cramped crates at other doggie day care centers. “When the clients bring in their dogs, they pack them up with lunch boxes and bags,” she said. “It’s like dropping the kids off at camp.”
Dogs must be up to date on vaccination and pass two supervised behavioral screenings with other dogs. Overnight boarding is $42, with beds and blankets (although they recommend clients bring their own), and $56 for the VIP Suite.
Camp Canine, 202 Pond St., Ashland; www.campcaninedogspa.com; 508-881-7364.
Maynard photographer raises awareness for adoptable dogs
“If I could take pictures of just one thing, it would be animals,” says Fred Levy.
The Maynard-based photographer began his pet-photography career about six years ago. Today, client packages range from $300 to $8,000, and sessions go on until Levy thinks he’s captured all that he can.
Levy works with shelters to promote adoption, especially of black dogs, which he says are often overlooked in adoption. The photographer started the Black Dogs Project last year, bringing awareness to the issue with portraits of black dogs against a dark background.