Pet adoption soared across Canada throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and luxury pet services have kept pace with the needs of doting owners.
At Toronto-based Dogfather and Co., where clients can bring their dogs and cats for a variety of luxury services, including facials, luxe grooming, and several bespoke clothing and bedding options, both Yorkville and Rosedale locations have been brimming with clients. Manager Cris Costa says she has seen how far clients – especially wealthier ones – will go to treat their pets right.
“A few years back we worked with a woodworker who made a child-sized bed for a dog to sleep in with a custom crate to enclose the area as an elevated crate experience,” said Costa. “That was the most expensive custom item we have ever made to sell and it was in the neighborhood of $4,000 due to the customization and that it was for a Great Dane.”
Costa adds that clients like to have pet outfits and accessories made to match their own wardrobes, especially for grand occasions.
“In one instance we had our leather maker send over 10 custom colour swatch options so a bride could match the dog’s leather leash and collar set to her bridesmaids’ dress colours,” said Costa. “This process took a few months as the leather pieces were all within a specific dye lot to ensure that they would match perfectly.”
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It’s not uncommon for clients to provide their own material for custom beds to be made by the Dogfather team, with a view to matching their home décor. A designer once approached the staff with different fabric for six custom beds to be made to match the curtains in each of the six bedrooms in the home.
“This was all for one dog,” she clarified.
Blueberry facials and ultra-unique haircuts are also on the menu. Costa says clients are not shy about how they want their canine companions to be styled.
“We have one client that has a black poodle whose coat has become grey due to her age,” said Costa. “The owner wants the poodle to continue to be dyed black so both mom and pup can have their roots touched up on the same day.”
Dogfather also sells parody toy handbags and toy alcohol bottles “designed” by Chewy Vuitton, Pawda, Chewnel, Sniffany and Co, Johnnie Dogwalker, White Paw, and Grorrona to name a pawful.
When it comes to that extra touch of class, clients can have 18-carat gold plated dog tags made with crystals and leather harnesses.
Pets need their bling, according to Dogfather and Co. owner, Nataly Kashani, who says her team are regularly part of pet birthday celebrations.
“We have often provided swag bag gifts for the guests as well as gifts for the puppy owners,” said Kashani. “One of the sweetest moments are when dogs become the messenger for a wedding proposal with a dog tag or the dog is part of a baby announcement. We have helped style for many of these types of events. We have even been part of some fashion shows or helped to outfit some Instafamous dogs. Yes, dogs and cats can be influencers, too!”
Dogfather’s pampered pups and kitties are among many lucky pets in the city. Companies such as Wooftown cater to animals’ food needs, with farm-fresh meals prepared according to a dog’s dietary requirements. Their raw options include rabbit and duck patties for the more sophisticated chien .
If online luxury is more suited to one’s pet, Vancouver’s Danes and Divas offers a plethora of personal styling services, designer, on-trend accessories and bespoke harnesses, collars and leads. In order to prep for wedding season, owner Shalla Black recently shared some tips on her blog for keeping canine groomsmen looking and feeling their best.
“Make sure you do a review of things your pup should avoid,” Black, who founded Danes & Divas in 2012, wrote, “such as alcohol, onions, grapes, garlic cloves, [and] toxic flowers.”
Monitoring pet safety is also a priority for groomer and pet-care expert, Melissa Borges, who says that what some see as luxury is also a health benefit.
“Grooming is definitely not an indulgence, it truly to me is considered an essential service provided to pets,” said Borges, owner and founder of Melissa’s Paw Spa in Newmarket, Ont., north of Toronto. “There are a multitude of precautionary effects to grooming.”
Borges, who worked as a vet assistant and vet technician for 13 years (including at an exotic animal hospital) before founding her spa more than seven years ago, says many health issues can crop up during a grooming session, including ear infections, abscesses, ruptured glands, skin infections, nail trauma and allergies.
Seasonal grooming styles are also a must.
“Haircuts to keep our beloved fur babies cool in these excruciating hot summer days highlight the necessity and importance of grooming our pets and giving them the satisfaction of feeling and looking their best in a luxury setting with a luxury result,” added Borges.
Unsurprisingly, then, celebrities are inclined to set the bar even higher when it comes to pet adoption and TLC. Many celebrities – from Canada and Hollywood – have graced the spa beds of Dogfather and Co., but staff always respect their pooches’ privacy, in true Canuck fashion.
“Not all celebrities are flashy and most like to fly under the radar,” said Costa. “As Canadians, we respect their desire for anonymity. Some live in our neighborhood and some have visited us when in town for a concert or filming. We are, of course, thrilled that they have paid us a visit and we got to interact with their little pooches. Surprisingly most celebrities have rescue dogs or a large number of dogs in their pack. It is not uncommon to hear that they have 5 dogs or more. We have often seen celebrities enjoy filming the dog coming out of the grooming salon freshly coiffed and greeting the owner excitedly. They always take a moment to photograph their dog as soon as they come out of the grooming salon.”