Best Bets for Pets
Our four-legged friends bring us so much joy. After a challenging day, there is nothing like coming home to a pet’s unconditional love and affection.
For nearly 25 years, research has shown that living with pets can help do everything from lower blood pressure to lessen anxiety to boost immunity, according to WebMD.com.
It seems most fitting that pet owners return the favor by giving their pets the best quality of life. And even in this economic climate, the pet industry is growing. The pet industry is expected to generate $51.6 billion this year – 1.3 percent more than in 2008, according to Los Angeles-based research firm IBISWorld.
There are a number of businesses right here at home that cater to our furry friends’ needs, whether they require a simple bath and trim or a luxurious overnight stay while master is away.
Groomer Has It
While Aussie Pet Mobile (800-PETMOBILE) is an international phenomenon that started in Sydney, Australia, it brings pet grooming the front doors of local pets. The service offers convenient, affordable, reliable and efficient service for pet owners to achieve and maintain their pets’ best well-being. The comprehensive service includes a thorough brush out, warm hydro bath, nail trimming, ear cleaning, hand blow dry, additional brush out and a trim. It also offers the FURminator Shed-Less Treatment, which reduces shedding by 60 to 80 percent when done every four to six weeks, according to Pam Plyler, who owns and operates a local franchise with husband John.
“The FURminator is awesome,” she said. “This is a gentle process that really makes a difference [in reducing] shedding.
“We are pet lovers who care about the health and wellness of each pet and want to give the best care possible.”
The couple hired their first groomer in 2007 and added another earlier this year. They continue to grow their business through satisfied customers who refer them to family, friends and neighbors.
“What differentiates Aussie Pet Mobile is our quality of care, which includes one-on-one attention with each pet, an exceptional groom and convenience for our clients,” Plyler said. “Being able to take the time to care for each pet individually translates into a much less stressful experience for our dogs and cats.”
And because the grooming is done in a fully equipped van in the client’s driveway, “the pet can see his front yard from the van’s window, so he knows he’s in the comfort of his own home,” adding to a more relaxing grooming session,” Plyler said.
“Our pet owners love the convenience of having the groomer come to them because that frees them up to do other things,” she continued. “We offer a flexible schedule Monday through Saturday with appointments from early morning into the early evening. Grooming sessions are tailored to the needs of each pet and the quality of care is appreciated by all of our customers, many of which have been with us since we rolled our first van.”
If you think Corbin’s Exotic Pets (212 Lindow Lane in Marengo, 815-568-8300) is just about unconventional critters and exotic species, you might be surprised to know it also offers grooming services for our furry friends. The giant pet store in Marengo – owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Jennifer and Mark Corbin – has offered grooming through Lisa’s Pet Grooming for two years.
The service was a perfect fit for Lisa Halwix, Jennifer’s sister, who always knew she wanted a career caring for pets. “I liked grooming school, so I decided to start my own business,” she said. “I barely take a day off.”
Lisa’s offers on-site grooming at Corbin’s and mobile grooming, which, for an extra fee, grooms on location at pets’ homes. “Going to the home is less stressful on the pet,” said Halwix, who travels as far as Barrington, but mostly grooms pets throughout McHenry County.
Grooming takes about an hour and pets are never caged, only occasionally held in roomy kennels if she’s busy with other dogs.
Once a month, Corbin’s hosts Trim Night with Lisa’s Pet Grooming, where Halwix trims the nails of dogs, cats and small furry animals for $3 (half off of the regular price). “This gives people a chance to keep their pets’ nails under control,” she said.
When master is away, the dogs and cats will play – at least if they’re lucky enough to be boarded in McHenry County.
Camp Bow Wow (3107 W. Rt. 120, 815-385-7297) in McHenry considers itself “North America’s premier doggy day and overnight camp.” Its campers play all day in indoor/outdoor play yards, and pet parents can view them online anytime with Camper Cams.
“The biggest feature we offer is our webcams that are designed to ease nervous pet owners’ fears about leaving their dogs,” Owner Kari Vanick said. “It’s about reassuring them that their pet is OK while he’s here.”
Webcams allow clients to check up on their pups online 24/7 while the pets roam freely between indoor and outdoor play facilities and have mealtime and sleep in their cabins.
Personal service is Camp Bow Wow’s main objective, said Vanick, who opened her location in 2008. “There is one staff member for every 15 dogs – we always have enough people watching the dogs,” she said. “We have more than 1,000 dogs who board here and know each personally. We know each dog’s buddies and other unique preferences. The entire staff loves dogs.”
Safety is another key concern at Camp Bow Wow. “Safety is our No. 1 priority and we take it very seriously,” she said. “Within the Camp Bow Wow system, our location has received safety awards.”
And at $40 a night, Camp Bow Wow offers competitive pricing.
“We don’t offer a la carte services like extra ‘play time’ – dogs play all day for one price,” Vanick said. “We give each dog the kind of care we’d give our own, and cater to special food or medical needs.
Pets, just like their masters, enjoy a nice treat every once in awhile. Reeses Barkery & Pawtique (1313 Riverside Drive, 815-363-7297) in McHenry offers ultra-premium pet food, treats and other products.
“We are geared toward natural foods for the health of the dog – our goal is to keep dogs out of the vet,” said Sharon Ahrens, shop owner and McHenry resident. “Brands we carry include Four Star, Nature’s Variety, Canidae, Solid Gold, Horizon Legacy and Origin.”
The shop also offers Ahrens’ own homemade dog treats, as well as toys, collars, leashes and bowls. Its health and beauty care products are made from all-natural ingredients.
The impetus behind her store, which she opened in 2006, was twofold: visiting a “barkery” in Buffalo Grove, Ill., that impressed her and “putting my own dogs down too soon,” Ahrens said. “I went to a seminar featuring a holistic veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker, whose data about dog food and dog health made a lot of sense.
“I didn’t want to settle for a dog that lived 12 to 15 years. I wanted to feed my dog as healthy as possible.”
She said it’s not in dogs’ DNA to eat corn-based meals, which are largely what commercial dog foods are made of. “Dogs are descendants of the wolf, which eats raw food in the wild, not corn in cornfields,” she explained. “Some dog foods use meat, but they are byproducts of the animal. As a society, we need to start reading labels better.”
Today, Ahrens has a golden retriever and a chocolate lab that she says, for a little more money, eat healthier food and stay out of the vet’s office. “Premium dog food is a little more expensive than the alternative, but you can’t leave the vet for less than $100 for a checkup,” she added.
If a client wants a special product not available at Reeses, the store will be happy to order it. Additionally, the shop offers pet and family photography.