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Time Out Chicago
issue 12: May 19–May 26, 2005

It's a dog's life

Pamper your pup with luxurious massages, rockin' walks and gourmet goodies worth drooling over

By Korey Karnes Photography by Martha Williams

At most parties, butt-sniffing is a surefire invitation for trouble. This weekend, however, it's not only acceptable—it's expected. As the Chicago Pug Party attracts hundreds of smushy-faced pugs and the people who love them, we've compiled a list of some of the doggone best canine services in the city.

Groomers your pup will want to visit
Before your pooch hangs with other dogs, why not treat her to a day of pampering and playing? The "Play and Bathe Doggie Spa Day" ($45–$65) at Bark Chicago (2450 N Western Ave between Fullerton Ave and Altgeld St, 773-486-2275) starts off with a morning romp in a 5,500-square-foot outdoor yard full of fountains, cots, ramps, PlaySkool houses and other doggie-friendly toys. After their morning playtime, the pups get a calming aromatherapy massage and do doggie yoga to relax. Then it's time for grooming, including finishing touches such as a cologne spray and a bandanna.

As long as Rover gets along with other dogs, he won't be caged after being groomed at the Bark Bark Club (1106 W Granville Ave between Winthrop Ave and Broadway, 773-274-7233). Instead, he can spend the day playing with canine compatriots in the fenced-in backyard or lounging around the playful store. Grooming runs between $25 and $100, depending on the size of the dog, and includes a bath, brush out, cut, nail trimming, ear cleaning and a gland expression (it involves anal massage and scents—you don't want to know the details).

Dog walkers—with benefits
The Pug Party provides quality time for owners and dogs alike. But for those times when you just can't be around, go with a professional walker. If your dog walks to a different beat, then Steve Evans (773-308-3165) should be the guy you choose to stroll with your furry friend. A renowned, up-and-coming jazz singer who plays at the Green Mill, Evans walks dogs eight hours every day and works on his music in the evenings. Clients love his $10 base rate, but they stick around because of his soothing leash-side manner. "If I don't feel a connection with the dog, I will refer [the owner] to someone else," he says. "I'm choosy about who I take." Evans doesn't believe in the use of choke or prong collars, and he also avoids overly crowded dog parks.

After seven years as a stockbroker, Kelly FitzSimons (773-251-3090) quit the world of finance to open a dog-walking business. "Instead of trading stocks, now I play with dogs and cats, and clean up poop," she says. "I wouldn't trade it for the world." Not only does she have more than 2,000 hours of veterinary assistant experience, she's also certified in pet CPR and first aid. In addition to giving walks ($15 for 30 minutes, $20 for 60 minutes) and puppy visits ($10), she'll drive your pooch to the vet ($40), give him his medicine ($5) and pick up dog and cat food for you ($15). It's like having your own personal pet-errand service.

Do-it-yourself washes
No time to groom Spot before the big event? Self-serve washing doesn't have to be a disaster. Thanks to Scrub Your Pup (2935 N Clark St between Oakdale and Wellington Aves, 773-348-6218), your house won't get trashed while you try to clean your canine companion. This DIY joint has four cleaning tubs and all the brushes, shampoo, towels, ear cleaner, toothpaste and cologne Rover could ever need. Water-phobic dogs are enticed up tub ramps with biscuits, so no dragging is required. The best part about the $15 self-service package? Once Rover is washed, staffers will clean up the mess.

Soggy Paws (1148 W Leland Ave between Broadway and Racine Ave, 773-334-7663) also offers sweet clean-your-pet options. The $18 self-serve wash starts with a staff-administered lavender and chamomile aromatherapy mist (to make your pooch more relaxed before the big event) and a foaming facial wash. Soggy Paws also hosts quirky events such as Singles Washes (the people are single, the dogs get washed), Gay Singles Wash (ditto) and Kosher doggie seders.

The four individual tile showers at The Furry Beastro (1500 N Wells St between Schiller St and North Ave, 312-932-9663) range in size, so even a huge Newfoundland can enjoy the spalike setting at this colorful pet boutique. The dogs walk up a ramp and step into the showers, which feature tile ledges so pooches aren't tempted to flee. Twenty bucks buys you shampoo, brushes, towels and aprons, so you don't get as wet as Woofers McTailwag. As a parting gift, every dog receives a complimentary bag of fresh-baked treats made by the Beastro's full-time chef.

Posh pooch splurges

A well-behaved pup deserves praise—and these options are for a very good dog indeed. As with humans, massage has a bevy of health benefits for pets, including lowering the heart rate, easing joint pain for older dogs and stimulating bone growth for puppies. Instead of using a massage table, certified animal-massage therapist Pam Kuhn (773-510-2296) gets on the floor to give 40- to 60-minute rubdown sessions ($50), and before she leaves, Kuhn will teach owners basic massage techniques. "It's an incredible bonding experience," Kuhn says. "You will be in sync with your dog."

If you can afford to stay at the Peninsula (108 E Superior St at Michigan Ave, 312-337-2888), then you can afford its top-of-the-line pet splurges. Animal guests are greeted in their rooms with a special welcome gift, plus a pet bed, water and food bowls. Goodies on the room-service menu include a Spaniel Spinach Salad ($10), Beagle Burger ($10) and a Foie Gras Paté ($14). For the ultimate experience, go for the in-room Rover Relaxation Massage ($80 for 25 minutes and $120 for 55 minutes). Everyone deserves to be pampered once in a while. The Chicago Pug Party is Saturday 21, noon to 5pm at Joe's (940 W Weed St, 312-337-3486). For more information, go to www.pugparty.com.

Hound-friendly haunts