Press

NTN24 NEWS
July 11th 2011
Dog Hotel in Canada Pampers Pets
 

Vancouver, Canada (NTN24) – When summer rolls around in Vancouver on Canada’s west coast, dogs with sophisticated tastes know where to go.

These pooches’ owners have left them in good hands at the Rex Dog Hotel and Spa, complete with its own water park and water balls designed just for animals.

“So those are fun, and it also keeps the dogs nice and cool during the summer hot spells,” says Rex owner Barrie Balshaw. “We have as well a little wading area if they want to go and lie in the water for a bit, but that makes it fun too, because it’s not like balls where they can get possessive. The water balls are there and then they’re gone, so that’s a fun little idea. And its keeps them clean too. Nice and fresh.”

The Rex is an enormous, 10,000 square-foot facility for dogs who’ve come to expect only the best in service, comfort and style.

When Balshaw and his wife Karen opened the pooch hotel in 2006, they had big dreams. They wanted to create a vibrant, relaxing, fully modern place where pet owners could leave their animals and feel good about it.

The doggie mini-bar menu speaks volumes about the establishment’s ethos: elk marrow, bison knuckle bones, and gourmet turkey liver.

The building was a former slaughterhouse and then home to a chocolate factory. The Balshaws invested more than a million dollars in redesigning it to create a paradise for dogs when they’re away from their own homes.

The elegant building gives guests the impression they’re about to check in at an exclusive resort or indulge in a lavish spa treatment. But make no mistake, this place is for hounds only.

This stuffed animal pooch has an unmistakable northern style. Its sweater is a traditional homemade Canadian Cowichan design – they sell for just under $50.

But save the sweaters for winter. It’s hot outside and time to play and cool off in the water park.

The dogs certainly aren’t shy, and they can never get too much attention.

It’s a tough life: unlimited playtime, and devoted staff at the ready to satisfy your every wish.

The Balshaws have run dog daycares in Vancouver for over 15 years. They recently adopted Shilo from a shelter, and she’s happily adjusting to her new home where she gets to play with other dogs and also gets a lot of one-on-one attention from her owners.

The Rex hosts as many as 300 dogs a week, and it can lodge 60 pooches a night. All the dogs are supervised 24 hours a day. Small dogs have their own separate play area, so they’re not bullied by the big guys.

At night, the dogs sleep on futuristic, comfy space beds or platform beds. Owners can keep an eye on their pets by checking out videos of them that the hotel posts online.

Balshaw says many dog owners in Vancouver are reluctant to spend money on luxury goods for their pets, but they’re willing to spend on high-end accommodation for what he calls “members of their families”.

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A full day at the hotel’s doggie daycare is $25.00, or $17.00 for part of a day. An overnight costs $58.00 and there are discounts for longer stays and for families that bring more than one pet at a time.

A 15-night stay costs $47.00 per day or $660.00 in total. Check in times are 9:00 am to 1 pm, and check outs are anytime during reception hours seven days a week.
The only requirement is that dogs must have had their vaccination shots, and aggressive dogs or male dogs that aren’t neutered aren’t welcome.

Cathy Austin adopted her beagle Allie four years ago, and the two have become best friends. Austin is an avid marathon runner, and Allie loves being out on the trails with her four hours a day. When Austin and her husband go away on business, often for months at a time, they have no hesitation bringing Allie to the Rex.

“I think she gets socialisation, which she kind of needs, because we don’t know what her background was in terms of socialisation,” says Austin. “She tends to be either aggressive or shy away from other dogs. So I think this is really good for her in terms of learning how to interact in a healthy, positive way with other dogs.”

After a lot of playtime, many of the dogs get a bath and a scrub with natural shampoo and conditioner. Baths, brush-outs and blow-dry cost $20 for small dogs up to $39.00 for large animals.
Six year-old Yorkshire Terrier Sasha is getting used to all the water. The baths end up being a bit of a bonding session.

“We don’t technically groom, we just bathe with a blow-dry and a brush-out, so we don’t do any fur clipping or anything like that, but I really enjoy spending this time with the dogs,” says Rex staff member Nicole Levesque. “Especially if the dog’s a little bit nervous, they get to know you a little bit more, and after the bath, they tend to be more your friend than they were before the bath. But I like doing that too, because I like the before and after results. They’re always kind of cool, especially when you have a really frizzy dog, and then you brush them all out and they’re just a big poof. So that’s kind of fun.”

Max is a 14 year-old Lakeland Terrier, and today he’s getting a good scrub before his owner picks up him.

He’s lost his hearing, and he makes an adorable purring sound. The Rex has become a comfortable place for him, and staff make sure he has just what he needs.

“We want to make sure that he’s not over-taxed, and so they take him on his individual walks and they monitor whether he feels like going on a walk that particular day,” says Max’s owner, Jill Gardiner. “And if they take him with other dogs, they make sure they don’t take him with dogs that are going to be rushing along and making him sore.”

With dozens of dogs at the Rex at any given time, staff are sure to feed each one its own special diet. Meal time is always a big job that the dogs love.

It’s never easy for a dog lover to leave their pet for any length of time. But dog hotels like the Rex hope to provide an answer.

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