Every dog must have his day, and this is Fred's. To give this story about vacations for the family dog a canine point of view, Fred, my three-year-old terrier mix, is sniffing out the NEW YORK DOG SPA & HOTEL. Following a shampoo, he is washed, dried and brushed before joining three dozen or so other dogs romping in the Manhattan facility's large indoor play space. To socialize them, trainer Andrea Smith has created separate areas for dogs of different size, temperament and adaptability. Like a kid on the first day at a new school, Fred holds back, lingering by my side while he sizes them up. But within 15 minutes, he's in the midst of the pack; I am totally superfluous.
And that's exactly how it should be. When we go on vacation, we don't want to think of our dogs sitting around at home bored and missing us--or crazed and peeing on the curtains as a symbol of resentment. We want them to be happy. For $42 a night--$45 for larger dogs--Fred would get regularly scheduled meals, walks and rest periods at the dog hotel, but just as important, he could bound and bond with fellow Fidos in a place where everybody knows his name. (For further information, telephone 212-243-1199.)
This doggy hotel isn't unique. From the rustic to the sybaritic, here are eight other spots for dogs--and sometimes their humans--to vacation in good company. LEARNING NEW TRICKS
High in the Santa Monica Mountains in California, the setting for CANYON VIEW TRAINING RANCH FOR DOGS is so spectacular that people often tell co-owner Randy Neece, "Forget the dog. I want to stay." Truth is, they probably couldn't keep up with the rigorous workouts at this five-acre Topanga Canyon facility, where as many as 25 dogs spend their days wrestling, chasing balls, swimming and doing obedience exercises. Good behavior is expected. Says Neece: "Those who aren't getting formal training learn from watching the others."
Boarding fees are $35 a night; training costs vary. It's worth every penny, according to Al and Denise Lyons, whose yellow Labrador Rosie had been a serial nipper. After Canyon View, Al says, "we had a pet who was under control." During peak vacation months, it's wise to reserve three months ahead, says comedian Sinbad, who boards his two pugs and a mixed breed there. "It's like getting your kid into a private school." (Telephone: 310-455-7897.)
The official greeter for ATLANTA DOGWORKS is Jumpin' Jess, an Australian shepherd owned by Greg Tresan. The two were three-time world finalists in disk-dog competition, but now that Jess has retired, she's "ambassadog" at Tresan's boarding and training facility on 15 pastoral acres in Ball Ground, 50 miles north of Atlanta. Tresan doesn't hold with anthropomorphizing. He wants you to enjoy your dog's natural behavior but also "bring them into your environment as welcome members of the household." At DogWorks, you can choose training in obedience, agility, herding and, of course, catching Frisbees. Daily boarding runs $15 to $20, depending on size, and training lessons start at $50. (Telephone: 770-735-6200.)
CAMPING WITH HOUNDS