By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
Deep tissue massages. Private walks on the sun deck. And social activities.
It's everything a resort should be: decadent, fun and relaxing.
But humans aren't the customers at the Barking Oaks Pet Resort in Temple. Dogs are.
'The dogs are our guests,' said owner Hansy Howard of Temple. 'They can come for the day or stay overnight.'
From beauty treatments to outdoor playtime, there's plenty to do.
'The idea is luxury,' Ms. Howard said. 'They get individual attention here, and they get to play with friends and get exercise in the fresh air.'
Resort manager Brittany Dixon of Temple nodded.
'It's comfortable,' Ms. Dixon said. 'There's no cement and unsightly fencing inside. It's home-like.'
Inside the resort, there are 14 private suites for overnight guests. The size of a walk-in closet, each room has a glass door, a water bowl and a fleece pillow for napping.
A porch light is at the top of each entryway.
'That's part of the homey touch,' Ms. Dixon said. 'We leave them on at night, so the dogs aren't in total darkness.'
But the lights use low-wattage bulbs, so sleep time isn't disturbed.
'In the back of each suite, there's also a sliding door that leads to the outside,' Ms. Dixon said. 'This allows for a quick, private indoor-outdoor exit.'
Each suite also has its own decor.
The at-the-movies suite, for example, has a director's 'Action' sign and a giant red movie ticket for a wall hanging. And the construction worker's suite sports a yellow hard-hat, a tool belt and hammer. The hunter's room is green with camouflage, and the fishing room is full of bait, tackle and lures.
'There's also black-and-white spotted room in honor of the Dalmatians,' Ms. Dixon said.
All the decorations are on the ceilings or top wall corners, well out of reach of the doggies. They are there for show, not play.
'The decorations help make the stay fun,' Ms. Howard said. 'And they're unique just like our guests.'
The room to the right of suite corridor is the kitchen.
'For the clients who order it, we prepare homemade dog food,' Ms. Howard said. 'They eat it warm, right after it's prepared.'
The menu consists of chicken and rice, ground beef and rice, cheese snacks and desserts.
'We serve Frosty Paw ice cream,' Ms. Howard said, pointing to a blue box full of puppy ice cream sandwiches. 'The dogs seem to love it. It's a nice treat, and there's nothing in the ingredients that can be harmful to them.'
The next room is where the beauty happens. It looks like a run-of-the-mill hair salon, complete with the dressing mirror, combs and scissors.
'We've got the best products in the market, including Le Pooch,' Ms. Howard said, referencing the lotions, creams, shampoos and conditioners that are on sale in the front lobby.
Resort guests, regardless of whether stay overnight, are treated to a warm bath. The drying is done by hand.
'Aromatherapy is available,' Ms. Howard said. 'There are all sorts of soothing, wonderful smelling oils we can add to the bath or use as a spritz.'
Grooming care packages are available as well. The spa treatment offers a water massage and an infrared therapeutic massage that uses vibration to relax the muscles.
'Tika's taken advantage of the high-end spa treatments, and she enjoys it,' said Pamela Pomykal of Belton, talking about her tiny black-and-white Papillon. 'And she loves getting her hair done. She comes home looking great, and I just love how happy it makes her.'
Prince and Duke, the Miniature Schnauzers belonging to Janann Groezinger of Temple, also enjoy the Barking Oaks beauty salon.
'They come home very pleased with themselves,' Ms. Groezinger said. 'They prance around with their heads high, enjoying how clean they smell and how pretty they look.'
The routine beauty treatments for Prince and Duke are the aromatherapy baths, hair care and nail buffing.
'Hansy does such a great job on the nails,' Ms. Groezinger said. 'They come out so pretty and so smooth without causing any bleeding. It's perfect, and the nails won't catch on clothes or carpet that way.'
The beauty treatments aren't universal, though.
'Just like people, some dogs like it, some dogs don't,' Ms. Howard said. 'You've got to know your dog and what his or her tastes are.'