Angelenos love their dogs and know exactly how to pamper them. There is almost nothing that is strictly limited to humans among this city’s luxury purveyors anymore, from high-style grooming to gourmet meals. After treating your pooch to an oatmeal bath and professional massage, you might wonder why you haven’t indulged in the same pleasures for yourself. But with all the dog-induced splurging in L.A., owners can become overwhelmed, which is why our furry friends deserve their own page in Best of L.A.
Best Doggy Fashion: Woof Dog Boutique
Does Sparky really want to go for a walk and exercise? Or has he been dreaming of trying on a ballerina costume? Treat drama-queen dogs to a fashion adventure at Woof in Atwater Village, where their wildest costume dreams will be fulfilled. Whether it’s a pirate hat, pink wig or sailor outfit, Sparky will certainly be the belle of the ball at his next soiree. If costumes aren’t in season, Woof also carries more essential canine clothing items that fashionable dogs should not be forced to live without: studded jean jackets, imitation Ugg boots and pink “I have two daddies” T-shirts. Don’t forget to paint the dog’s nails and accessorize with doggy hair clips. Need to celebrate a special occasion with the dog? Purchase bridesmaid outfits, tuxes, a Christmas ensemble and, for those mornings at synagogue, a yarmulke for your pet. Woof even hosts obedience-school graduations with custom-fitted caps and gowns, and dog birthdays with pooch-friendly ice cream, “Happy Tail” beef-flavored beer and “Barkundy” wine. Dogs are encouraged to let go of weight self-consciousness; Woof creates clothes for all sizes, ranging from petite Chihuahuas to plus-size Great Danes.
“Having a boutique is an art form,” says owner Diane Serafino, who takes pride in delivering products to the “underprivileged” dogs of the Eastside. If a doggy Hawaiian shirt isn’t art, what is? (For more designer dogwear, try Fifi & Romeo in Beverly Hills.)
3172 Glendale Blvd., L.A., (323) 661-7722 or www.woofdogboutique.com.
Best Doggy Day Camp: Wagville
It’s hard being a working parent when you have to leave the dog alone all by herself for the day (before she’s old enough for kindergarten, of course). For those dog owners who don’t want to hire a nanny, Wagville offers a daycare and boarding package comparable to summer camp. Small and large dogs are separated into 14,000 square feet of cage-free play areas, complete with fans to keep them cool and kiddie pools if they want a quick swim. Wagville also has a lounge, where more sensitive dogs can cuddle in a human-sized bed and watch their favorite heroic-dog movies (think Snowdogs and Scooby-Doo). For an extra charge, pets can even sleep in the same room as a person. Staff take pets on field trips to Runyon Canyon and Huntington Beach; less outdoorsy dogs can treat themselves to something more luxurious, with options ranging from oatmeal baths, grooming and hot-oil skin treatments to massages that include soothing music and aromatherapy. Even with that much pampering, some more concerned owners may still worry about their pets, which is why Wagville has installed Webcams throughout the facility, allowing parents to watch their canine companions from home or work. A hidden gem among the warehouses of Glassell Park, Wagville offers more extensive hours than most daycare centers, staying open until 9 p.m. for those who have to work late. So leave the kids with the nanny and spend lavish sums of money on camp for the dog instead — maybe they’ll appreciate it more.
2400 N. San Fernando Rd., L.A., (323) 222-4442 or www.wagville.com.
Best Doggy Lunch Stop: Pussy & Pooch
Pussy & Pooch, a chic dog (and, yes, cat) boutique in downtown’s Arts District, is the ultimate place to indulge your dog’s appetite. The entrepreneurs behind this dog oasis created the “Pawbar,” which looks like an ordinary bar, except for the holes cut out in the floor, and the squares of AstroTurf that line the place. The result is a dog-friendly restaurant, where pets are served raw-meat burgers or low-fat chicken soup with rice, both drizzled with “Hound Sauce.” More health-conscious canines can select bowls of organic veggies, raw-meat nuggets or a stew that is a mixture of flavored wet food heated in a Crock-Pot. All meals are served in classy ceramic dishes with a sprig of parsley on the side. Of course, there are meaty bones for chewing. For dessert, pets are treated to “Yoghund,” organic banana and peanut butter frozen yogurt. And since no dog should dine alone, Pussy & Pooch has an outdoor patio where owners can order their own meals from nearby restaurants and eat at the tables with their pets. Pussy & Pooch caters a variety of food-themed dog events, including ice cream socials and Halloween parties. After your meal, go all-out at Pussy & Pooch’s bathhouse (the boutique sells supplies and provides washing stations) and treat your dog to a blueberry facial, a bath with wheatgrass shampoo and a spritz of his-and-hers “Sexy Beast” cologne. Seriously, dogs like to smell like rose and piña colada.
564 S. Main St., L.A., (213) 438-0900 or www.pussyandpooch.com.
Best Doggy Hike: Runyon Canyon
The only off-leash hiking area in the city, Runyon Canyon is the best place to let your dog run free and enjoy sprawling views of the Hollywood Hills. With 90 acres to roam, both you and Prince will get a good workout walk or run. Of course, this see-and-be-seen slice of nature is also known as a great celebrity-spotting sight (we frequently see Jason Bateman jogging up the mountain). We like the short hike to Indian Rock, the highest point in the canyon; there’s a good resting spot, with flat areas to play a game of fetch or Frisbee and 360-degree views of the city. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of the ocean. Bring a bone and sit down for a picnic with your loyal hound. The winding trails on the way back down are perfect for doggy socializing. And who knows? Dogs are known to be good matchmakers — so pay attention when yours runs up for a sniff of someone new.
Entrances two blocks north of Hollywood Blvd., at the top of Vista St. or Fuller Ave., and off the 7300 block of Mulholland Dr.
Best Doggy Nightclub: Sky Bark
After traveling the world as a professional snowboarder, Brandon Hochman was frustrated. There weren’t enough places he could go with Mish Mash, his beloved Malti-poo. So when Hochman returned to L.A., he created Sky Bark, a bar/lounge downtown specifically designed for dog owners who want to enjoy the city’s nightlife without leaving their furry friends at home. The club has an extremely irregular schedule — events are usually themed and word gets out through Sky Bark’s Web site — but the dog parties are a spectacle. Guests enjoy 360-degree views of the city from Sky Bark’s rooftop bar, dancing the night away on two dance floors with other dog lovers. There’s usually live music, with DJs, catered snacks and a 3,000-square-foot doggy play area. Canine attendees are treated to Sky Bark’s specialty drink, the “Muttini,” a combination of chicken broth and vitamin water served in a martini glass. Fresh grass is installed for each event, allowing dogs to do their business without having to leave the lounge. Earlier this year, Sky Bark worked with MTV2’s Rob and Big to host an event for Meaty the bulldog’s 14th “barkday,” which featured an ice sculpture of Meaty himself. Other events have included doggy fashion shows, sample sales and a “Woofer” Ball, with proceeds from silent auctions donated to local animal-rescue centers. Fido has had a long day. So buy him a stiff Muttini and ask him for a dance.
1026 S. Santa Fe Ave., L.A., (213) 891-1722 or www.skybark.com.
Best Doggy Ride: Super Shmuttle
With vans whose yellow-and-blue exteriors were inspired by the human van service, Super Shmuttle drivers often get asked how much they charge for a ride to the airport. The answer varies, depending on whether the passenger wants to stop at the vet first. After walking dogs for 18 years, owner Judy Rudin had the idea to create the unique dog-transportation and daycare service after noticing many pet lovers have jobs that prevent them from driving their dogs to the park, or themselves to the pet store for supplies (Rudin’s drivers will deliver your dog’s favorite food, and even medicine from the vet, to your home.) The majority of her clients are in the entertainment industry and have their dogs picked up for a day of exercise and play with the pack. Super Shmuttle drivers escort about 15 dogs a day to the park or the beach and back again, letting the smaller ones sit in the front seat. Rudin outfitted the vans with industrial doors, rubber mats and a fan to keep passengers cool.
“The dogs love it,” she says. “They all lie in the back and socialize on the way to the park. It’s a van-tastic voyage.”
Beyond the play dates, the vans will take your dog to the vet or deliver him or her to a groomer, so your pooch can return home not just feeling good but looking good, too.
With a home base in Toluca Lake, Super Shmuttle covers the San Fernando Valley, Burbank, Studio City, Silver Lake and Hollywood, and is expanding to Beverly Hills before the holidays. Next time you think you see a van full of dogs on their way to the airport, think again, because you probably did.
(888) SHMUTTLE or www.supershmuttle.com.