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SUNDAY, AUGUST 5, 2007
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Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Patsy Stephenson gets a little muzzle nuzzle from Gertie, a regular customer at her Pat’s Poodle Parlor in Hartselle.

A dog’s life
How to pamper your pooch (if you don’t already)

By Danielle Komis Palmer
dpalmer@decaturdaily.com · 340-2447

These days, the doghouse isn’t usually a bad place to be.

Dogs of all kinds are living the high life: bling-blinging with diamond-studded collars, top-notch baths that make our showers look like low-budget car washes, and posh, fluffy beds to lie their pampered heads on at night.

Maggie, a Maltese, is all dolled up after a cleaning at Pat’s Poodle Parlor in Hartselle.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Maggie, a Maltese, is all dolled up after a cleaning at Pat’s Poodle Parlor in Hartselle.
Many dog owners today view their pooches as family members and best friends rather than the creatures of old that slept outside and guarded the house or livestock.

Tammy Forshey of Ardmore and her daughter, Shelby, admit to spoiling their Yorkshire terrier, Alex. The 3-year-old small dog eats only natural, top-of-the-line dog foods and treats and always chooses his own toys from the family’s favorite specialty store 30 minutes from home.

Last week Tammy, Shelby and Alex happily browsed through Diesel & Lola, a gift store and bakery in Athens that carries specialty pet items. The mother-daughter duo searched for new toys and marveled over cute items.

“Ooh, they’ve got a life jacket so we can put him in the swimming pool!” said Tammy excitedly, running to inspect the yellow contraption.

Shopping for and spoiling your dog is “so addicting,” said Lana Boyer, owner of Diesel & Lola. Her store even carries pet aromatherapy candles, dog “paw rub,” $200 pet carrying bags, and $80 Swarovski crystal collars.

It’s also common for dog owners to bring their dogs in for special oatmeal or protein baths and grooming that often includes nail polish and bows in their hair, said Patsy Stephenson, owner of Pat’s Poodle Parlor in Hartselle.

“People are just crazy about them (their dogs),” she said. “A lot of them bring them in the morning and want them back as soon as they can get them. They miss them.”

Pamper away

So what are some fun ways to pamper your best buddy? With so many products on the market nowadays, it’s easier (and cuter!) than ever, said Lana Boyer. Boyer owns Diesel & Lola, a specialty store in downtown Athens that carries homemade pet treats and pet specialty items, as well as treats and gifts for people. She and Myra Cook of Animal Friends Humane Society in Decatur dreamed up some great ideas for making your pooch feel special.

King of the bowl

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Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Providing your dog with a cute water bowl of its own is also a fun way to make him feel special. Dog bowls abound with cute designs and personalized initials or pictures, but the best dog bowls are stainless steel, Cook said, because they stay cleaner longer than other types.

Toying around

Every pampered pooch needs an array of toys to show off to his buddies. And the possibilities offered today are practically endless.

The KONG Wubba toy — a new, squeaking tennis ball toy covered in a thick fabric — is one of the newest and hottest toys on the market, because they’re so durable, Boyer said.

For the anxious dog, the “Stuff ’n Sniff” separation anxiety toy (at right) is a great way to stop the pathetic, sad eyes when you leave. The toy features an opening in the back where you can stuff your socks or anything else small that smells like you, so your canine pal can enjoy the comfort of your scent until you return home.

Top-of-the-line treats

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Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Your pooch isn’t truly living the high life if he’s eating dog food from the bottom of the barrel, even though it might save you some greenbacks.

To keep your little buddy’s coat shining and kidneys going strong, feed him only top-of-the-line foods found in grocery stores and pet stores that use natural ingredients. Also, for treats, choose healthy, natural items. Diesel & Lola in Athens cooks up fresh, all-natural dog treats in their kitchen.

“The things we make for the dogs are probably healthier than what we eat,” Boyer said.

Snacks come in flavors such as bacon and cheese, banana coconut and apple cinnamon.

Matching leash & collar

Alex, a Yorkshire terrier, finds a toy he likes in Diesel & Lola in Athens.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Alex, a Yorkshire terrier, finds a toy he likes in Diesel & Lola in Athens.
For any Fido or Fifi, a matching leash and collar are a sure way to draw admiring looks on your regular walks, Cook said. Pairing a red leash with a pink collar is similar to people pairing gold earrings with a silver necklace — tacky. And of course, the important part of having the leash and collar is to walk your pet as often as possible, so it can be properly exercised.

Birthday baskets

Show your little guy or gal that you care by giving a special gift for a special occasion like a birthday.

Animal Friends Humane Society in Decatur makes customized “Puppy Love” and “Kitty Cuddles” gift baskets for your four-legged friends that include items such as picture frames, healthy, top-of-the line treats, toys and other accessories. The group started creating the baskets for a Valentine’s Day fundraiser and found them to be so popular with pet owners that they now take orders year round. Call 351-2347 or 353-0079 for more information.

Place to lay paws down

A special place for your dog to lay its head is also a must.

Myra Cook of Animal Friends Humane Society, has a bed for each of her four dogs. She said each one is designed to fit the animal’s personality — pink, frilly polka dots for the girls and tiger or leopard print for the boys.

Lana Boyer, owner of Diesel & Lola receives plenty of requests for orthopedic animal beds, crate pads or fancy pillow beds, she said. She even takes orders for custom made cherry wood beds and matching armoires for dog “clothes.” Canopy beds and other human-like beds are popular, she said.

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