Okay, dog lovers. What's the worst thing about being a pet owner in August and February? The god-awful weather, that's what. You've got your little (or big) dog, and he wants to go for a walk. Up and down the streets and in the parks is all fun and games in the spring and the fall, but when it's 100 or zero degrees, nobody wants that.
Enter Leslie Rosales and her pet salon Pawcasso's.
Rosales operated a pet salon at 71st and S. Memorial before relocating to 7123 S. 92nd E. Ave., where she has re-opened the salon. What she's really excited about, though, is Pawcasso's Club K-9, the indoor dog park that she'll be opening next month.
"We'll have 10 boarding facilities, but the majority of the space will be open. It will be just like an outdoor dog park. We'll have referees, we'll have a dig zone with toys buried in it, we'll have a splash pad," she said. "It's going to look literally like a courtyard-style park."
Beyond the splash pad idea, Rosales also hopes to institute a beach day here and there.
"I've got this crazy idea that I'll have days where I'll put one of those inflatable pools out for the dogs to play in," she said. "My husband thinks I'm out of my mind, but the way I look at is it doesn't have to be really big--just big enough for the dogs to play in, and it's good for the joints and things, and it will keep my staff really happy, because they're playing in the water with the dogs."
And for those of you who hate the smell of wet dog, well, it's no coincidence that there's a grooming salon next door.
And for the actual dog park itself, Rosales has totally thought of pretty much everything.
"When it gets really hot or really cold, people want doggie day care. But they go to some doggie day cares and they smell like urine," she said.
Solution? A modular, enzyme-treated floor.
"You pick up after your own dog, but the flooring we're putting in is a really fun, pet-friendly, indoor carpet," Rosales said. "It comes in squares, so if someone gets really nervous and has a horrible accident that's not a quick clean-up, we can replace that square and disinfect it." She added, "And we'll have a potty zone. It's kind of an elevated area and it has a cool little tray. It's a box, square box that can accommodate big dogs and little dogs."
That should all go a long way toward solving the whole pee-smell thing. She also said that sometimes, customers walk into a doggy day care and see that the animals aren't really getting played with.
"The staff might be carrying water bottles and throwing balls around, but they're not really interacting with the dogs," she said. For dog lovers, that's apparently a super-sad sight, but Rosales has several solutions to keep that from happening at Pawcasso's. For one thing, there are available activities for the pups.
"If you want to leave your dog with us and not stay with your pet, we'll offer arts and crafts," she said with a straight face. "They can do pawprint painting, we'll have dogbone frames, just silly, fun stuff. We'll have photography days, too."
I suppressed an I-can't-believe-my-freaking-ears smile when she said this, but then I thought, there's room on the fridge between my kids' artwork, and if my cats could paint something, I'd totally hang that up.
Anyway, other amenities from the old location will appear at the indoor dog park, as well, including a massage therapist (really) and a bakery. For the dogs. Really.
"Everything is all dog-friendly. My husband tastes everything we make except the fishy and the liver-y stuff," Rosales said, perhaps betraying a secret her husband might not have wanted her to betray. "But we do everything from your basic dog biscuits and training treats, and we make our own homemade foods."
This particular aspect of Pawcasso's arose out of necessity, really.
"I've got a dog that cannot eat commercial dog food at all. I come from a restaurant background, so I started making my own foods for my dogs. The next thing I knew, with dogs that were boarding, clients would say, 'Oh, yeah, just go ahead and feed them whatever,'" she said. "I'd say, 'I fed them stew the entire time they were here,' and they'd say, 'Can I buy some of that?'"
And so was born the doggy bakery, and it's way more than just biscuits.
"We do pizzas, casseroles, stews, birthday cakes, pies, pigs in a blanket. The whole idea is once we get that park open, we'll have the bakery there, too, so people can bring their dogs in and play and have some treats," Rosales said. I have no idea what dogs like on their pizzas, but judging from some of the things I've seen dogs put in their mouths, I'm not sure I want to know. "And we'll put in some vending machines so the parents can have something to eat, too." Yes, she said "parents."
Despite the bakery and the vaccine clinics and the photography days, the real draw will be the indoor dog park.
"People want to take their dogs to the dog park, but Oklahoma weather is so hinky. So they go to a dog park, and they might have a little pool set up, but it's still 100 degrees out there. So dog parks sit empty, and dogs sit at home on the couch getting fat," Rosales said.
Maybe I need to take myself to a dog park, then.
But there's more to the indoor dog park than just a place to go that isn't sweltering.
"Spring and fall is great," Rosales said. "Dog parks are full, but there's no bug control, and there's no one there monitoring whether dogs have had the rabies vaccines, whereas here, it's going to be like joining a gym. You can either buy a pass for a month, or you can buy a day pass but you have to have proof of vaccines. If you don't have that, you can call your vet."
It should be noted that not once, upon walking into Planet Fitness, have I ever been asked about my rabies vaccination status.
Dogs will also need to be on a flea preventative and run through a flea- and tick-check before going in.
"It's going to be climate controlled and critter controlled, and it's going to be safe, safe, safe," she said.
A mere five bucks will buy dogs and their people an hour in the joint, but there's an even better deal brewing.
If you want to come in and drop your dog off for the entire day, then it's going to be $15, Rosales said. "It's dirt cheap, and it's group play. And then if you want, you can add on arts and crafts or splash time or a photograph."
So dogs of Tulsa? Fear not the dog days, for Leslie Rosales and Pawcasso's are looking out for you.
"The dogs need a fun place to play," she said. "And the yuppie parents need a fun place to take them."
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