Pets Are People Too
Maybe pets aren’t actually people, but they can become beloved members of the family — and sometimes the partnership is the stuff of legend.
Not everyone wants a pet enough to welcome all the habits, quirks and debris they bring along. But, as the following story reveals, if you should allow a furry, feathery or even scaly creature into your heart, before you know it they’ll be joining you on the couch to binge-watch “Animal Planet.”
Pets Are People Too
Our pets rule, but they’re not people, right? We scoff at a celebrity carting around a designer pup in a designer handbag. We roll our eyes when the neighbors complain that the color of our new fluorescent mailbox bothers their ferrets. And we excuse ourselves when Aunt Mona suggests her Pekingese would play a lovely violin if only he had opposable thumbs. But let’s be real. Who among us hasn’t asked the dog if he’s a good boy (as though he’d admit otherwise)? Who hasn’t sprung for the “cool” cat collar at the store? Sometimes we treat our pets even better than some of the homo sapiens in our lives. Who’s to say where lies the line between loving and over-the-top?
“Our clientele are very particular people,” says Cindi Ingalls, owner of Lakes Region Pet Resort. “These are not pets. These are four-legged family members.”
How do we provide not only the good life, but the excellent life, for our quadrupedal relations here in the Granite State?
Kibble. Wet food. Pellets. Staring, frozen mice. Our pets may get their daily vitamins, but how many of them are true gourmets? How often do we treat our little best friends to treats that don’t come vacuum-sealed from the dollar store?
At T-BONES Great American Eatery in Bedford, your canine companion is welcome to dine on dog cuisine out on the terrace. Dishes are named after staff pooches, whose pictures grace the back of the special dog menu. The Moe Bowl, which includes ground beef and whole-grain rotini, is named for a smiling, pink-tongued bulldog. “Moe eats anything,” the description reads. “Maybe your dog does too?” Pickier eaters might enjoy Eddy’s Assorted Cheeses or Boo’s Bacon Wrap Bites. You could also pay tribute to Bonzy, whose photo shows an inquisitive, shaggy fellow, and whose Bonzy Burger is grilled without seasonings that might upset sensitive tummies. Splurge on dessert or Dasani to make the evening complete.
Or maybe your finicky fur-pal is looking for hand-trimmed, hormone-free, grass-fed, locally sourced meat. (Who are we kidding? Of course they are.) Chasing Our Tails, out of Hudson, produces handmade pet treats at their own butchery and bakery. They have moose antler chews for bold, outdoorsy canines and gluten-free baked goods for the society set. And, of course, organic cat nip. Meow!
Every pet needs a good vet. It’s important to vaccinate against rabies and distemper. That yearly dental exam is vital to keeping Mr. Meow’s chompers healthy and formidable. And nobody wants worms. But just as some people seek out that extra holistic touch to get themselves in alignment, some pets are now choosing additional, alternative roads to wellness too.
The healing and life-balancing tools employed by Nikoe Natural Therapies, based in Milton, include nutrition, telepathy, essential oils, energy and gemstones. Founder Michele Lowry is a Reiki Master, Animal Communicator and Shaman Practitioner. Whether your horse has something important about her emotions to communicate to you or your St. Bernard could use some energy healing, Michele can help them out. You can even meditate with your dog. “An incredibly deep love and understanding awaits us all,” the website says. “You can tap into your animal’s energetic vibration, become partners and listen to their profound guidance.” And for pooches who could use both Reiki and a bath, find Michele at Club Canine Dog Wash & Day Spa in Portsmouth.
If you’re in southern New Hampshire, your dog, cat or horse might be interested in Dr. Daphne Haley’s mobile holistic veterinary service, Positive Chi. Dr. Haley is a licensed veterinarian as well as a certified veterinary acupuncturist. If your four-legged pal isn’t into acupuncture, Dr. Haley offers herbal and food therapy services as well. For those pets with blocked qi who live in the Concord area, check out the Holisitc Veterinary Center on West Street.
Putting clothing on our pets is no longer rebellious or even unusual. Many of us slip a woolly sweater on our dachshund when the cold weather sets in. Tropical birds enjoy a stylish fall jacket. Some brave souls even zip festive hoodies onto their kitties (and have the scars to prove it). But some pets take it to the next level.
A satin dress worthy of Cinderella. A bejeweled lace tiara. Gold glitter and fun florals. Is it the Oscars? No. These red-carpet outfits are the work of Darcey Klein of DRC Canine Couture, who has been dressing New Hampshire’s pups in fantastic finery since 2006. Her awards include “Best Evening Gown” and “Prom Queen.” This year, Klein won Best Gown Designer at the Fabulous Fur-Baby Cotillion Brag Walk of Fame for a multipart ensemble that included a dress vest and long skirt, worn flawlessly by a little dog named Peanut. Klein, who works with G Girl Productions, the New York City Pet Fashion Show, Celebrity Catwalk and others, designs and donates elaborate fashions for dog shows around the country to raise funds for animal rescue groups. Her dresses and capes sparkle and gleam, while her clients — human and fur-baby — pose for pictures guaranteed to make the harshest fashion police smile.
Style isn’t all about accessorizing, however. We also show off our personal brand by how we live — and how we party. If your dog is a social butterfly, do it up for his next birthday at Four Your Paws Only in North Conway. Private playroom? Done. Party games like Find the Biscuit and Musical Sit? Done. Pizza, cake, ice cream and sing-along? Done. Fancy pet bakery onsite? Yum!
It’s tough to leave our non-human pals when we go on vacation. What if we miss them? What if they miss us? What if they throw a rockin’ blowout without our permission and break our favorite vase?
Luckily, there’s Lakes Region Pet Resort in Center Harbor, which is not your average kennel. Pets relax in large, luxury suites with raised therapeutic beds and doors that look like doors, not cages. Cats do their classy business in high-end crystal litter. The only smell in the air is lavender, which soothes both pets and people. And what’s that sound? Why, it’s the scientifically created dog music of “Through a Dog’s Ear” (from the makers of “Through a Cat’s Ear”). Trainer Kelly Arbogast from Doggonit Training steered owners Cindi and Mike Ingalls toward the music and the fragrance, both of which help relax the pups between their excursions to the play yard. To add to the deluxe atmosphere, everything is hand-cleaned by the dedicated staff. “There’s not a hose on the premises except for the flowers,” Cindi says.
If you’d rather your pet came along on your trip, check out the charming Chesterfield Inn in West Chesterfield. You and Fido (or Whiskers or Feathers or Slithers? Maybe.) can relax in one of their pet-friendly rooms and enjoy the whole Pet Package — local treats and new bowls and toys. Some folks visit with a newly adopted furry companion, and some have come to spend their beloved dog’s final days in a beautiful place. Although its Pet Package is geared toward dogs and cats who actually enjoy travel (yes, they exist), the inn has welcomed a sugar glider, a capuchin monkey and even a duck. Because who wants to hike Mount Monadnock without their duck?
Above and Beyond
If some pets enjoy as much luxury as people, some must surely enjoy even more. I’m speaking, of course, of animal waste removal, that glorious practice by which our pets’ least adorable by-products are magically whisked away as though by the Poop Fairy. Turd Herders, started four years ago by Melanie and Eric Craig, provides scooper services to all comers. “If they can poop, we can scoop,” Melanie says. Their clients have included dogs, cats, bunnies, chickens, cows, horses and even snakes (pretty much like other kinds of poop, in case you were wondering). Even bitter New Hampshire winters can’t stop Eric and his four-wheel-drive and, sometimes, his snowshoes. And if anything seems off about the content or texture of your pet’s payload, the Herders might send you a Turd Report — er, “Visit Report.” “On more than one occasion, Eric let me know that Petey was having issues,” says client Dana van der Bijl of Deerfield. “He had contracted worms from some potting soil. I never would have known.” The Craigs have now also branched into first aid for cats and dogs, and just opened a storefront in Derry where you can purchase pet supplies, gifts and, of course, Turd Herders merch.
Finally, we come to the last gesture of reverence you can make to your pet: honoring his death. “Death” isn’t a fun conversation starter, but it happens to us all, and some of us prefer a few fancy bells and whistles over a shoebox behind the garage. If you need a little help getting through the grieving process, reach out to Pet Passages by Purdy Funeral Service in Lee. Pet Passages is part of an actual human funeral home, with the same licensed professionals on staff. They even have a chapel and other facilities for memorial services or funerals. Director Stephen Purdy explains that the staff abides by the same code of conduct for their non-human clients as their human ones, a practice that isn’t guaranteed elsewhere. At many veterinarians, for instance, the cremation provider comes by once a week (and the ashes you get back might not be entirely Rover’s), whereas Pet Passages is available 24/7 for immediate pick-up, just like with people. They have come for cats, dogs, rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, birds and even mini-donkeys. Just be sure to make other arrangements for your ailing walrus, because the crematory can only accommodate up to 500 lbs.
While simple cremation is always an option, you can also purchase gravestones and mementos of your pet. Many prefer modest symbols of remembrance, such as engraved jewelry or pawprint trinkets. But for some, only the most extravagant demonstrations of love will do. If this is you, then consider having a portion of your pet’s ashes made into a diamond. Yes, Pet Passages will arrange for a company to extract the carbon from Flopsy’s ashes and cultivate an actual diamond. You can even specify the size, cut and color, and each diamond is gem-quality and comes with a certificate. It takes about nine months and one carat will set you back $10,000-$15,000. But really, when it comes to our furry, scaly, feathered loved ones, nothing is too above or beyond.