Whether Fido was rescued from an animal shelter or handpicked from a world-class breeder, it’s hard not to treat our furry companions as extensions of our family.
We spoil them with treats, gifts and even a wardrobe — and we occasionally panic when we leave them alone with the babysitter. Sometimes they want extra attention, or they need serious discipline.
A multitude of Preston Hollow businesses are dedicated to meeting pets’ needs and owners’ desires. From doggy daycare to luxury pet bakeries, these establishments make indulging animals a serious business.
Adventures in pet sitting
Dogs don’t seem to mind staying at Julie Husa’s Midway Hollow home while their owners go on vacation.
Some of them refuse to leave their temporary home when their owners pick them up. Maybe they have to be dragged out because they have free rein to sleep anywhere in the house, even her bed. It might help that she doesn’t stop them from diving into the pool, although it’s not an activity she encourages.
“We just treat them like family,” she says. “We spoil them with treats. They come home tired.”
The former engineer launched D Best Pet Sitting in 2010. Besides transforming her home into a pet-hotel-and-dog-daycare hybrid, she goes on house calls to watch over pets like cats and lizards.
Thawing frozen mice and force-feeding them to a snake isn’t typically part of her job description, but it’s what had to be done when one family’s beloved reptile wouldn’t eat its food.
“That’s something I never thought I’d do,” she says.
Before she lets any dog into her abode, a 30-minute meet and greet is required. Her own Corgi, Milo, serves as the bouncer. If Milo growls at a prospective visitor, the pooch isn’t allowed to stay.
It’s (not) a hard-knock life
Raw by Canines First’s most popular employee, Tessa, hasn’t taken a vacation in three years.
The store greeter and product tester clocks in by 10:30 a.m. and works late into the evening seven days per week.
Store owner Greg Raupers considered cutting her hours, but customers complained when they didn’t see the 8-year-old golden retriever laying near the door.
“She’s so personable that everybody really gets to know her … They’ll come in and go, ‘Hey, where’s Tessa?’ ” he says.
The long days don’t seem to faze her — being compensated with constant treats and attention isn’t a bad deal.
The Inwood Village boutique’s beloved employee also is the reason Raupers launched a healthy pet food business.
He was hunting for a remedy for the dog’s bad allergies when he swapped her dog food for a healthier brand. He saw how a change in diet improved Tessa’s quality of life and began an intensive research project that led him to leave his telecommunications career and open the shop.
“I didn’t feel like I was giving back to the community at large,” he says. “I felt the pet store would contribute to a longer legacy.”
Raw by Canines First sells kibble, dehydrated, freeze dried and raw varieties of dog and cat food. Each brand is grain free, and the products are only made in the United States, Canada and New Zealand.
“We have all the education you want, but we don’t want to bombard you with it,” Raupers says.
Known by regulars as the “Neiman Marcus of dog stores,” the Lucky Dog Barkery offers everything customers never knew their pets needed.
The Preston Center boutique’s specialty is high-end, healthy dog food, including products made from kangaroo meat. Patrons also can peruse bow-tie dog collars, Texas-themed toys and personalized beds.
“We brag about that on the regular,” says store manager Ben Pratt. “Our customers’ dogs are surely lucky dogs.”
A pit stop to the shop is part of a handful of privileged pups’ daily routine. Andy, a basset hound, grew accustomed to receiving a treat at the shop’s back door. It’s his biggest source of disappointment when the barkery shuts down for holidays, Pratt says.
Andy isn’t the first dog to grow too attached. Another regular’s pup ran away from home, and a Tom Thumb employee discovered the pooch headed toward the barkery.
“He decided to go shopping by himself,” jokes owner Marsha Lindsey.
Lindsey established the popular spot in 2005 after 30 years as a telecommunications consultant. The boutique is a local business at heart, she says, which is why employees will deliver items to people’s doors on their way home from work and make an effort to memorize regulars’ names.
“Customers are our family,” Pratt adds. “You don’t see that in a lot of retail establishments anymore.”
Hair (Not the musical)
After 12 years as a dog groomer, Stuart Rogers’ only battle scar came from 13 stitches to his lip.
That happened when an overly-excited Sheltie started to slip from the grooming table. Rogers reached out to catch the startled pup, who promptly chomped down on his mouth.
All things considered, Rogers can’t complain about any of his canine clientele.
“I joke bad dogs just don’t join the club,” he says.
Rogers’ Big Wag Pet Groomers provides mobile pet grooming to residents of Preston Hollow and the Park Cities. It’s a full-service salon with baths, haircuts and, of course, a finishing blow dry that doesn’t require neighbors to leave their house.
Clients find it convenient, but it’s dirty, hard work for Rogers. The air conditioning is no match for the blaring blow dryer, and he spends his working hours covered in fur.
“It’s not a plumber working in a sewer pipe, but it can be kind of hot,” he says.
Dogs look forward to seeing Rogers — or at least that’s what he’s told. Two Labradors, named Betty and Veronica, run straight to the bathtub during their visits.
“I think I’m pretty good with dogs, but I’d hate to brag about it,” he says, adding it’s hard not to get attached to the pups.
When Rogers’ first client, a St. Bernard named Bernie, got cancer, the client was so distraught that Rogers took the beloved pet to be put down himself.
“It wasn’t even my dog … I just lost it,” he says.
Most of Rogers’ days aren’t that dramatic, but word about his friendly demeanor has spread through the neighborhood. He’s got so many regulars now, it’s not easy to get on his schedule anymore. Clients joke that booking an appointment for their pets is like scheduling a trip to a celebrity hair salon.
“That takes a long time to build,” he says.
Breaking bad dogs
After years of study, Brad Bevill knows how dogs think.
He runs Bevill’s Dog Behavior from his Killion Drive home. Pet owners overwhelmed with their dogs’ aggressive or anxious tendencies leave their pups with Bevill, who works his magic to quell rebellious acts.
“I don’t teach sit, stay, come, heel,” he says. “I rehabilitate dogs that are fearful and aggressive. I educate humans to command them properly.”
Bevill takes intervention seriously. Dogs remain under his supervision for up to a month and undergo daily individual and group training sessions. Sharing his home with more than a dozen dogs on any given day gets hectic, so he enlisted his wife and four employees. Bevill’s longtime affinity for animals began as a child. He had a habit of sneaking stray animals into his parents’ Irving home. Over the summer, he worked at his uncle’s ranch herding cattle. He didn’t know it then, but it was a head start on training for his future career.
“Those summers taught me so much about instincts and communication, about animals — all animals have psychology going on,” he says.
His enthusiasm for animals went to the wayside in college, where he studied exercise sports science. A year-long stint as a personal trainer gave way to an 18-year career in marketing and advertising. Disenchanted with the corporate world, he started training dogs from home, taking classes and combing Dallas-Fort Worth for the worst dogs he could find.
“I adopted dogs that were horrible to see if I could learn,” he says.
Bevill launched the business full time in January and is opening a facility in Fort Worth. He plans to relocate the Dallas facility out of his home, too, so he and his wife can relax in their backyard for once.
“The whole idea of transforming something — I just love that idea,” he says. “The cool thing about dogs, unlike people, is they don’t lie to you.”
Dog and Dine
If you feel guilty about leaving your canine at home, these Preston Hollow restaurants allow you to satisfy your hunger without neglecting your family’s favorite addition.
Mattito’s Tex Mex
7778 Forest Lane
The popular Tex-Mex chain permits pets on their patio.
Bread Winners Cafe
5560 W. Lovers Lane, suite 260
The bistro and bakery’s Inwood Village location also allows your furry companions to join you for a meal.
Pet contest winner
Every year, Advocate readers submit photos of their most photogenic pups to our pet contest. This year, readers selected Sam as the best pet in all of the neighborhood. The 3-year-old Red Heeler and Great Pyrenees mix spends hours on squirrel patrol, walks Northaven Trail and causes shenanigans in owner Michael Blachly’s home.
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