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Pampered Pets = Happy Travels
Telluride's Dog Spa Offers High Class Doggie Treatment

by Mitch Kaplan

photo courtesy Telluride Dog Spa True, it's a bit of a cliché when people say about their dogs, "Rover (or Fido or, as is the case in our house, Callie) is a member of the family." But, the phrase's truth is found in the fact that more and more folks are taking their canines along when they hit the road for vacation and, in at least one location, they're expecting their pet to receive the same caliber of treatment that they experience.

Telluride's Golden Door Spa at the Wyndham Peaks resort has answered the call for high-class doggie treatment. Within their luxurious state-of-the-art facility, they've opened a dog spa.

Say what?

Yes, it's true. Some may find the idea of a dog spa surprising. But, then again, this is Telluride, a funky little ski town where few residents live without companionable mutts; a town that provides strategically placed "pickup boxes" supplied with plastic pooper scooper bags and puppy parking; a settlement where the free gondola that connects the historic downtown with resort town of Mountain Village has designated dog cars.

"There's quite a large number of dogs in Telluride, so we started with that fact - it's a very dog friendly place," commented Golden Door Spa director Helen Brown when we asked her, Why a dog spa? "And, a lot of people come here with dogs," she continued. "The hotel is dog-friendly, and we started to realize that, with more people traveling with dogs, we could take it a step further."

The first step was to "Make the rooms more dog-friendly," she noted. By adding dog beds, bowls and other amenities, life was made "easier for the owners - they don't have to bring as much when they come, and they feel more comfortable leaving them in the room."

But, clearly, that was not enough. After all, if you're a high-end property, and are going to commit to being dog friendly, and you already operate a world-class spa, why not share the wealth?

"In the spa we had a room we felt we could convert (for dog services)," Helen explained. "So, we found someone who had been in the business for a long time and brought her on board. We started out with basic services - grooming and bathing - then moved on to the next step."

The next step being? Doggie massage. This is a spa, isn't it? "Even I thought it seemed initially a bit far-fetched and indulgent," Helen admitted. "But, studies show massage has excellent benefits - it can make a difference in the quality of life for dogs."

Well, it works for humans. Why not dogs?

Helen refers to all Golden Door Spa pet handlers as "Certified" dog lovers, and their grooming staff is not only trained in massage, they can train dog owners in massage technique. "We believe in trying to teach people in how to maintain the positive effects at home," Helen elaborated. "So, we teach owners how to massage dogs at home. It promotes relaxation; it's good for the circulatory system, reduces pain (especially if the dog's arthritic or has other pain-related problems) and it promotes bonding between owner and animal."

The Golden Door Dog Spa opened this past January (2004), and their service menu has been growing rapidly since day one. Among the other services of which pet owners may take advantage: teeth cleaning, ("Tooth brushing can increase the life of dog by as much as three years," Helen insisted, "and our groomer can teach owners the technique"), dog walking, guided play time, doggie dining and a line of doggie boutique items available for sale. Each owner receives a doggie "goody bag" that contains a sample-size of Purina dog food, a massaging brush and a DVD about dog care, including cleaning ears, eyes and teeth. Patrons can even be put in contact with Purina's consulting veterinarian to have health questions answered.

The Half-Day "Leader of the Pack" Spa Package may just be the ultimate indulgence for your pooch. Consider: some four hours of pampering, including one hour of guided playtime, bathing, haircut, pedicure, ear and teeth cleaning, blow dry, brushing, 20-minute T-touch massage, gourmet lunch and gratuities.

Or, maybe that's still not enough?

"We're looking into doggie day care," Helen proclaimed. "There seems to be a lot of demand for that, especially by people who don't want to leave their dogs in the room. There's also some call for training. But, we're still a ways off from making that happen."

So, has the doggie spa received a good response? (Mind you, this is a high-end resort hotel, and the prices reflect that.) "There's been a great deal of interest," Helen reported. "Lots of people use the grooming services. Some take the massage. Guided playtime has been quiet, but we anticipate more people traveling with dogs in summer and more things to do outside with the dogs. Our groomer has been working two days a week and has been pretty much booked for each day. A good portion is local clientele."

Indeed, one need not be a guest at the Wyndham Peaks to utilize the dog spa services. Any Telluride resident or visitor is welcome. But, in the end to get the full benefit, one must - if nothing else - be a dog.

For more information on Wyndham Peaks Golden Door Doggie Spa: wyndham.com .

Also in Telluride The Mountain Lodge at Telluride, likewise located in Telluride's contemporary Mountain Village resort community, is another of the resort's dog-friendly hotels. Mountain Lodge at Telluride not only delivers spacious accommodations, slope-side convenience (in winter), upscale amenities and gracious service, but they'll spoil your dog if you let them. Pets staying at the Mountain Lodge at Telluride receive a complimentary Telluride Frisbee, Evian Water and Gourmet Pet Treats at check in. For more information visit mountainlodgetelluride.com or call 1-866-368-6867.

For more on pet friendly destinations see our PET TRAVEL SECTION.

...... Mitch Kaplan is the author of "The Unofficial Guide to the Mid-Atlantic with Kids," a contributor to "The Unofficial Guide to New England & New York with Kids," and the author of "The Cheapskate's Guide to Myrtle Beach" and "The Golf Book of Lists".

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