Tag Archives: cat

Dumplings, Leopards, and Sherpas, Oh My!

January 9, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Silas and Kimberly West have four children who are actively involved in soccer, ballet and tap, golf, Awana, choir, and a smattering of other hobbies. Those hobbies include taking care of a small zoo: two dogs, a cat, a gecko, a snake, and a coop full of chickens.

Priya, 7, shares about Momo, their small gray dog: “Momo likes to snuggle on the couch, and she likes to sit in the window behind the couch, and she likes to eat cat food.” Momo is named for dumplings that are found in Nepal, where the West family lived for 11 years.

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Next up? “Duma!” Elijah, 9, exclaims. Duma is his leopard gecko. The name means “leopard” in Swahili—Silas spent many of his growing-up years in Kenya. Duma lives in a cage in the boys’ bedroom. “He likes to act dead,” says Elijah. “He likes to stare. He likes to climb in your hair or your neck. And he doesn’t like new people.” That means new people get hissed at.

Then there’s Tiger Lily, the cat. “She’s gray with black stripes,” says Adia, 11. “And when you’re sad, she comes and comforts you—she sits on your lap.”

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Bruno is the corn snake under the care of 12-year-old Jedidiah.

At this point, Kimberly has to laugh. “We have so many pets. Oh my goodness,” she says.

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One reason Jedidiah likes Bruno is because “he can always beat you in a staring contest.” The snake can’t blink because he doesn’t have eyelids.

Sherpa is a Redbone Coonhound. “He’s named after the guides who take people up in the Himalayas,” says Adia.

“There’s so many goofy things about him,” Silas says.

“He likes to dance!” Adia exclaims. “If you say, ‘Dance,’ he will jump up and hold onto your shoulders.”

Sherpa is protective of Priya. “Other dogs aren’t allowed around Priya,” Kimberly says.

“Not even his best friend,” says Elijah of Otto, the Great Dane-mastiff mix who lives next door.

“Only Momo,” says Priya. “She’s the only dog who’s allowed around me.”

“He’s really gentle with the kids, even Avila,” Silas says about the toddler who used to live next door. “She’d curl up on his dog bed with him, and they’d just relax together.”

“Even Tiger Lily,” says Adia.

“Yeah, he loves the cat,” says Kimberly. “And he loves the chickens.”

The chickens are perhaps the most surprising of the pets—the whole family just loves them. Kimberly says, “We decided two years ago that we were going to get chickens. It took me 10 years to convince him.”

“I grew up with chickens on the farm, and they’re stinky and messy and a lot of work. And I didn’t want them,” Silas explains. “But Kim always wanted them, so we got them. And I ended up liking them a lot.”

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The chickens reside in handmade coops and roam free in the garden. Madge is the matriarch of the chicken coop. Elijah says, “She kind of likes to snuggle. She likes to dig and eat bugs.” Madge often squats down when approached and likes to be picked up.

“The chickens are more like pets. They’re like pets that give us something,” 
Kimberly says.

“I never saw chickens that way,” Silas says. “They’ve always just been an animal you have on your farm for a purpose. All of our chickens like to be held and get mad when 
you don’t.”

“We have a proclivity to needy animals, and our chickens fit into the needy-animal realm,” Kimberly says. “Even the Reds are letting you pet them now. An animal comes into our yard, and it becomes needy.”

And, in return, the kids are quite attached to the chickens. They were heartbroken when a Bantam hen died this summer.

“We had a funeral for Penny,” Kimberly says. “She was killed by a possum.”

Adia says, “She’s buried next to the 
possum.”

For the Love of Pets

December 12, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Animals are a huge deal in this house!” exclaims Kim Hanusek of Bennington, mom to Samantha, 9, and Leigha, 6.  She’s also a second-grade teacher at Pine Creek Elementary in the Bennington Public Schools district. Kim is always eager to visit about the eight animals (yes, eight!) that complete her extended family.

“First off, we have Tucker, 3, a purebred Boxer,” shares Kim. “My family has been raising Boxers for 20 years, and my sister and I grew up showing Boxers in 4-H. I have shown Tucker locally at shows in Lincoln and Omaha, but now he’s a ‘finished champion,’ which means he’s just a coach potato.

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“Then we have Piggy, a French Bulldog who’s 4 and also a purebred. We got him from a breeder, and he actually looks like a pig.”

Kim goes on to describe her three feline friends. Callie, a domestic shorthair Calico, was adopted from the Nebraska Humane Society seven years ago (which makes her the most senior pet of the household).

Diamond, 4, is a Ragdoll, a domestic breed known for its gigantic size and limp body. “The kids like to hold him like a baby, and he’s so flexible, he folds up in half.”

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Then there’s Lily (age unknown), a domestic shorthair stray the family took in a couple years ago. “Another teacher spotted her in the snow on the playground one day, and I took her home. We didn’t intend to keep her,” Kim confesses, “but [Leigha] had been asking for a cat of her own, and we were trying to get her to stop chewing on her blanket. I told her, ‘Little girls that chew on blankets don’t have their own cats.’ It worked like a charm,” Kim recalls with a laugh.

The family also has two hamsters—gifts to the girls from their father, Brian, for Valentine’s Day last year.

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And just what does Dad think of all the animals in the house? “He grew up in a home where the dog stayed outside most of the time,” says Kim. “Then he found me and met my family…He had to become an animal lover out of necessity! Now, he travels to dog shows with us and willingly goes along with it all. Truly, he loves seeing the enjoyment the girls get out of [the animals].”

Last, there’s Coty, an 18-year-old paint horse that Kim got while in college. The family boards Coty at The Farm at Butterflat Creek in Bennington. “I did a little breakaway roping on her when she was young, but I was never successful,” Kim recalls. “She’s pretty ornery, but she’s turned out to be a great family pet. The girls and I ride her…both girls took riding lessons this summer. Samantha hopes to ride competitively one day.”

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Samantha plans to begin showing Boxers next summer in 4-H Junior Showmanship competitions as well, Kim shares proudly.

“My hopes are that both girls will show or train dogs in 4-H and more competitively in AKC-sanctioned shows when they get older,” she adds. “There’s a lot of enjoyment and pride that comes when you work hard and bond with a pet. The possibilities are endless with dog/owner activities. They might move on to dog agility, confirmation [breed judging], obedience, therapy dogs, and/or working with our breed-specific rescue group.”

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While the family pets are teaching her girls lessons about hard work and responsibility—they help clean cages, take the dogs to obedience classes, make sure all the animals are watered and fed daily, and other duties—Kim says they’re teaching them lessons in humanity as well.

“They’re learning that the animals depend on them…that all animals need love and attention, and that playtime is a requirement of pet ownership, too. They’re learning that animals feel…and they’re all unique. Samantha, especially, has taken a real interest in learning about the differences in dog breeds and their temperaments and behavior.”

The family has also done some work with a dog rescue club, which has allowed the girls to see how some pet owners treat pets as disposable. “I want them to understand that pet ownership is a commitment, and you don’t get rid of a pet because you’re bored with them or so you can get another. It’s not temporary,” adds Kim.

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Having so many pets does offer its challenges, Kim admits. The family has to budget for yearly vaccinations and heartworm pills, boarding and farrier fees, vet bills, and of course, pet food and supplies. All the expenses can add up. Taking any trip can also be a hassle. “We always have to ask, ‘Who’s going to take care of the animals?’ before we can go anywhere.”

Recently, Kim and Brian approached the girls about taking a vacation to Disneyland. The girls’ response? “They told us they wanted to go to New Orleans where they make Pitbulls & Parolees or to the Florida Everglades to see where Gator Boys is shot.” These are two Animal Planet shows the family watches together. A love of animals is ingrained in them for life, Kim says.

“A lot of what we do revolves around the animals, especially the dogs. They join us for fire-pit nights with the neighbors…they sleep in our bed…they’re there for just about everything.” And that’s just how the Hanuseks like it.

When is the Right Time for a Family Pet?

August 16, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

So you just had kids. During the first couple years of raising toddlers, you were under a lot of stress and had a fairly unpredictable schedule. But now that they’re in school, you’ve gotten into a comfortable routine—breakfast, take the kids to school, go to work, pick the kids up from school, eat dinner, go to bed. It’s about this time that you might be thinking, “Hey, we should get a family pet!”

But how do you know if a pet is a good idea? And what kind of pet should you get to fit your family’s lifestyle? Well, there are actually several things to consider before adding a pet to your family.

The first is whether or not you have time you can devote to a pet. “Time is the best judge,” says Cathy Guinane, training and behavior coordinator with the Nebraska Humane Society, who works with owners of new pets regularly. “A family has to have time for an animal. They can’t be gone all the time.”

Guinane, herself, adopted four dogs—three terrier mixes and one poodle mix—and personally prefers to get pets in the summer. “It’s easier to potty-train a puppy or younger dog when the weather is nice. [And] more people are outside in the summer, so there’s more time for walks.”

“The answer is different for each family,” adds Tera Bruegger, director and adoption coordinator with Hearts United for Animals, a no-kill shelter, sanctuary, and animal welfare organization in Auburn, Neb. “One time that can be difficult, however, is around the holidays.” Bruegger says that holiday preparations, leaving town, and constantly having guests over aren’t beneficial to the transition of adding a pet to the family because there’s not enough time to establish a routine.

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“A lot of thought and discussion should go into this life-changing decision,” explains Bruegger. Feeding, grooming, exercise, medical expenses, your home—all of these things must be considered before taking on a new pet.

Always evaluate your home before getting a pet. Do you have a house or a condo that you’ve bought, or are you renting an apartment?

If you have a permanent residence, you’re in pretty good shape. (If you have a yard, that’s even better, especially if you’re thinking about getting a dog.) You’ll just have to get used to the idea of your pet possibly destroying wood floors and carpet, scratching doors and cabinetry, and chewing furniture. But hey, you’ve had kids. You’ve already accepted the fact that your house will show some wear and tear, right?

If you’re renting, however, you’ll want to check with your landlord because you might not be allowed to have a pet; and if you are, there are often breed and weight restrictions, as well as pet deposits and monthly fees. Apartments are getting a lot better about allowing pets, but adopting a giant Great Dane might be better if you held off until you have a permanent residence.

The big one, though, is whether or not you can afford to own a pet. Purchasing and adopting both cost at least a couple hundred dollars, depending on the breed and age. Then, there’s spaying and neutering, which are highly recommended by vets. Don’t forget licensing, rabies shots, and annual check-ups and vaccines. And just like kids, always keep in mind that there could be a medical emergency, like a broken leg.

So what kind of pet is best for your family? Well, that depends on your schedule and whether or not you’re looking for a long-term companion for your family.

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Smaller animals—fish, birds, reptiles, rodents—require much less time, space, and interaction than a cat or dog. “They’re good for teaching kids responsibility,” says Guinane. In fact, if you’re not sure about whether your family is ready to handle the responsibility of a larger pet, it might be good to start with one of these. Beware, though. These pets have shorter lifespans and may upset younger kids when they die.

With a cat or dog, more time and effort is needed. Both animals crave interaction, whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood, playing with toys, or simple petting.

Cats are the more independent of the two, explains Guinane. Although they do still need some attention, cats won’t feel the same sense of abandonment a dog will if your family is out of the house a lot. Cats do, however, require a litter box (unless you train your cat to go outside or in the toilet), which will need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Also, most cats don’t do well with roughhousing.

“If you’re looking for a quieter pet that is fairly easy to take care of, cats can make great companions,” says Bruegger.

On the other hand, dogs are very playful and make great family companions. “A dog will love everyone and can handle the activities of an active household,” says Guinane. Not to mention, if you have children who are physically disabled, a dog can provide extra support.

“Dogs can bring so much happiness to a home,” Bruegger adds.  “Some people believe you live longer with dogs, as you are happier, and you may be healthier since you may get more exercise walking the dog.”

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Age is also something to think about with cats and dogs. Kittens and puppies are fragile and require training, but they’re also much more social. “They can grow up with the kids and the activity of the household,” says Guinane. The problem? “They get into everything and chew a lot!”

With an older cat or dog, you have the luxury of only having to train the animal to get used to your home, as they already know basic commands and are potty-trained. “They may be a bit more laid-back or have less energy, which can be appealing to many people,” explains Bruegger. Just make sure you choose an older pet wisely because some of them may not have been around kids before. Usually, animals that haven’t been around small kids find them frightening because their movements are so fast and unpredictable, which can be especially hard on an older animal.

“[An older animal] may also have more health issues,” adds Guinane. “They may not be as game to play and be touched when they don’t feel well.”

Nevertheless, whatever type and age of animal you choose for your new family pet, both Guinane and Bruegger recommend that you adopt from a shelter or rescue instead of going to a pet store.

“Animals at shelters need a home,” says Guinane. “Sometimes, they just need another chance.” The Nebraska Humane Society works closely with people looking to adopt and tries to find the best possible match, depending on personality types, lifestyle, and location restraints.

Hearts United for Animals has a similar process, though they take it a step farther by doing a home visit before selecting matches. “Adopting from a shelter or rescue means you’re not supporting puppy mills [with] inhumane conditions…For many, the thought of providing a home to an animal that needs one fills their hearts with joy, and the bond built with a rescue pet can be second to none.”

Pet-Proofing Your Home

Planning on expanding your family with a bundle of furry love? Pam Wiese, vice president of public relations and marketing at Nebraska Humane Society, says that the NHS has pamphlets to hand out about pet-proofing a home, as well as a behavior hotline. Still, Wiese has learned a lot from firsthand experience.

For example, her two labs Rudy and Bree may or may not notice the screen door is closed when they come crashing back in from playtime. Wiese has discovered that a pair of simple “bird magnets” (magnets that attract each other on either side of a screen or glass) keeps the rambunctious pair from tearing through her screen door. Again.

Use Wiese’s following tips to prevent such destruction to your property, as well as eliminate hazards to your pet’s health:

Be tidy. “Unfortunately, one of the best things to do is keep your home picked up,” Wiese says with a laugh. By getting in the habit of putting your shoes in your closet and shutting the door, you remove an opportunity for puppy to develop a taste for leather.

Get down on their level. View your home from your new pet’s vantage point, and you might be surprised at what nooks, crannies, and cords a kitten or a puppy could get tangled up in. Block holes, put covers over air vents, and get cords tidied out of the way.

Put food away. Even if you’re thawing meat, Wiese recommends shutting it in a turned-off microwave or setting it overnight in the fridge. “You don’t want your dog to learn that you keep food on the counters,” she says. “That way, the one day you do forget to hide the German chocolate cake, he’s not going to be looking for it.”

Close everything. Get a covered trashcan. Close the toilet lid. If your cat’s a Houdini, consider childproof locks on cabinets.

The Edwards and Kona the Cat

July 22, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Family is everything. Every parent knows that they would go to the end of the earth for their children and do whatever it takes to make sure that the members of their family are healthy and safe. But how do you define family? Where do you draw the line?

For Crystal Edwards and her two daughters, Veronika and Delanie, it was a question that they may have never really thought about but were faced with answering recently.

In May, 13-year-old Veronika was reviewing a paper she had just written for her English class. The theme: “Write about three things that you love.” She wrote about her family, her friends, and her cat, Kona. At the last minute— she cannot say exactly why—Veronika changed the final paragraph, in which she had described Kona as her child.

Later that night, as Kona crossed the street just outside their front door, a car sped through the residential neighborhood, ran the stop sign, and hit the nearly two-year-old cat.

Crystal, not wanting her children to see the cat in that precarious condition, took him immediately to the Animal Emergency Clinic near 156th & Dodge.

“The vet said Kona was in shock,” recalls Crystal. “His eye was protruding. It looked like he had broken bones, and he wasn’t able to stand. He was just shaking so much.”

When faced with the option of putting Kona down, Crystal asked what his chances were. “They weren’t sure but said that if he made it through the night, he’d have a 50/50 chance of living.” The veterinarian was able to establish that there were no broken bones; however, there may have been some internal bleeding, major head trauma, and a high probability that Kona would lose his right eye. A morphine drip kept him sedated and comfortable.

Kona survived the night, and while his prognosis was good, it would be a long road to recovery. Crystal would need to make some major decisions.

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“I knew that the girls could have one of two experiences in this moment,” says Crystal. “They could experience saying goodbye to a pet. Or I could teach them that, because he’s part of the family…we wouldn’t be limited in what we do for our pets.”

When Crystal was a young girl, she went through a similar experience when her cat was hit by a car. “I tried with all my strength to save up for medicines and food for him and to keep him alive,” she shares. “It just crushed my soul when, a while later, I had to put him to sleep.” She just couldn’t stand to have her own daughters go through the same pain.

Crystal acknowledges that the financial aspect of Kona’s treatment was a major concern. “Money really shouldn’t be a [factor], but sometimes it has to be.” During this time, the family was in the process of moving and expecting a baby. Money, unfortunately, was a consideration; but not one that would keep the family from doing all they could to keep Kona as a member of their family.

The bills mounted up: several overnight stays at the animal hospital, eight hours in an oxygen kennel, surgeries, medicines, a wired jaw, feeding tubes, and IVs. But again, how do you put a price on family or on love? Or on compassion?

Crystal expresses her gratitude to Jon Fink, DVM, of Animal Center West Omaha, the veterinarian who helped care for Kona. “He has been phenomenal,” she says. “He would call in the evening…to see if we had any questions, and we were able to bring him in to Dr. Fink daily for a few weeks to check on [his progress].” Crystal also says that the practice was very accommodating when it came to paying for Kona’s care. “He was a really great vet to work with…very responsive.

“Pretty much, the moral of the story was we wanted to do everything we could to keep the cat alive as long as he wasn’t in excruciating pain…and not to make money an issue.”

From climbing the once-insurmountable back-of-the-couch to wrestling with his old pal and family dog, Bailey, Kona is well on his way back to being his old self. And Delanie, Veronika, and Crystal couldn’t be more thankful.

Italian Contemporary in the SoMa Lofts

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It was the Old Market specifically that sold Ros Mercio into moving to Omaha from Buffalo, N.Y. “It has a nice vibe and restaurants and art and culture,” she says. “It was just cool.”

Mercio settled into one of the 15 SoMa lofts at 11th and Leavenworth streets in December 2011, scaling down from a large house with three bedrooms, two and a half baths, and a den. “I’m an empty nester,” she explains, “and I didn’t want to take care of a house, and I knew I wanted to be downtown.”20130326_bs_9165

Friends in Toronto had inspired her to try the condo lifestyle for herself. “I wanted to get away from managing a lawn,” she says, “and I don’t have to drive on the weekends. I can walk everywhere.” She has about a 20-minute drive to her job as director of sales at Journal Broadcast Group in West Omaha.

Her SoMa loft is nestled back in a quiet courtyard, past the community garden with its once-a-week wine tastings. The nearby railroad can cause some noise, but she’s used to it. She shares the 1,050-square-foot condo with Tessa, a tiny, gray-and-white rescue cat from Buffalo. They’ve been together for three years, and Mercio says she still couldn’t say exactly who rescued whom.20130326_bs_9196

Something else that’s made several moves with Mercio is one particular framed photo of her family’s farm in Tuscany. She has uncles and cousins there whom she visits every year. “It’s my happy place,” she says, noting that her favorite times to go are in May or September.

Of course, the trips make it easy to supplement her contemporary Italian décor. Carnival masks from Venice decorate the entertainment center, the light fixture in the bathroom is Venetian glass, and the blue-glass plates on the dining table are also Italian. But don’t be fooled. Though the table has a contemporary Italian look, it’s actually from Nebraska Furniture Mart along with the rest of the condo’s furnishings.20130326_bs_9185

Aside from new furniture, Mercio only made a couple changes to the loft when she moved in. Local designer CKF put granite and quartz countertops in the kitchen and marble in the bathroom, as well as a stainless-steel backsplash behind the kitchen sink. Mercio laughs and says the stainless steel shows water stains like mad. She says she knew it was impractical but couldn’t get it out of her head after she saw it in the showroom. “Every time I look at it, it makes me happy,” she confesses. “I don’t have any regrets.”

The kitchen includes an island with a stovetop and Jenn-Air range hood. Mercio says it’s just one more example of the extra thought the developers put into the SoMa Lofts. After having built three homes of her own, she says she knows what it looks like when someone’s cut corners. “It’s a solid feel,” she says. “You don’t hear people walking around. It doesn’t feel like an apartment.”20130326_bs_9169

Though she does love to entertain, she admits she doesn’t use the kitchen to its fullest because “that’s the thing about living downtown…I find myself eating out more.” Mercio doesn’t particularly have a favorite, but she does like walking to J’s on Jackson by herself. “But they know me at Stokes; they know me at Ahmad’s.”

The floorplan of the condo is small but open. The high ceilings and lots of windows keep the overall feel airy, set off with muted blues and grays. Mercio compliments the developers with making great use of the space with clever cabinets everywhere. The only area that she’s contemplating renovating is an odd workspace nook in the condo’s entrance. It looks ready to house a 10-year-old desktop computer. “That was the only thing I think they missed on,” she muses. She plans to expand the empty, dimly lit square to add on to her pantry, which currently houses a modest collection of shoes instead of cereal boxes.20130326_bs_9208

She does have an extra storage room down the hall, in addition to her double, heated garage. “You don’t realize how important it is until you have one,” she says with a laugh. “They did a lot of little extra things that maybe other builders wouldn’t have done.”

Every once in awhile, she’ll see a larger condo and wonder why she didn’t opt for more space, “but then I remember the whole point was to simplify my life.”

A Pet’s Paradise

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When many people think of pet boarding, they envision a city of kennels resembling a prison housing dozens of bored, cramped pets. But these days, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

A growing number of pet care facilities now offer posh boarding accommodations, as well as a slew of activities and playtime options for your furry friends. Whether it be for a week-long stay or daily daycare, these pet hotels and spas provide your animal fun interaction with other four-legged friends and caring staff members who will pamper your pet just as you would. So while you and your family are vacationing this summer, don’t fret; the family pet can be taking a “vacay” all its own.

Three of the most well-known independent pet hotels and spas in the Omaha area include Cottonwood Pet Resort, Bark Avenue Grooming and Dog Daycare, and The Paw Spa Pet Resort.

Guests at the The Paw Spa Pet Resort take a refreshing dip in a bone-shaped pool.

Guests at the The Paw Spa Pet Resort take a refreshing dip in a bone-shaped pool.

Cottonwood Pet Resort in Waterloo sits on 11 acres of land with a 10,000-square- foot indoor area. Family-owned by the Dvorak family since 1992, Cottonwood works much like a hotel—pets check in and check out of pet suites, which vary in size from modest to quite roomy. All dog accommodations provide sheepskin rugs for bedding and outdoor access to exercise yards. Some suites, like the Cabana, offer private access to an outdoor patio and include TVs tuned to the Animal Planet channel.

Cottonwood also offers a dedicated area for cats—completely separate from the dogs—where feline friends can either lounge in their individual suites or romp with other cats in the playroom. Cat areas are equipped with climbing options and perches, as well as TVs and music. Cottonwood also boards exotic pets, such as rabbits, parrots, guinea pigs, and turtles.

With 43 years in the pet grooming industry, Sue Wilke was one of the first to offer doggie daycare services in Omaha. Nine years ago, she went to Washington, D.C., to learn about dog daycare because there were very few in Omaha at the time. Today, she owns two Bark Avenue locations in town: the original location at 156th & Maple streets, which specializes in daycare and grooming; and a second at 137th and C streets, which provides long stays and boarding. The business provides complimentary transportation between its two locations for the customer’s convenience.

Camera-shy cats hide in the playroom at The Paw Spa Pet Resort.

Camera-shy cats hide in the playroom at The Paw Spa Pet Resort.

While visiting Bark Avenue’s C Street location, canine guests can play all day with others their own size in three different indoor playrooms or lounge in individual suites. Suites range in size from 5×5-ft. to 8×8-ft. and feature laminate walls and glass doors and fronts, which allow easy visibility and enhance cleanliness. Multi-dog suites are available if your pet has “brothers and sisters” you’d like them to stay with. The new facility also features a 2,000-sq.ft. secure, fenced outdoor area. Dogs are taken outside eight times daily for a minimum of 20 minutes each visit. Daycare playtime with staff is also available upon request.

Wilke says her business strives for socialization and minimal stress for its guests. “We want the pets’ experience to be as close to home as possible. We just want what’s best for the dog.”

The Paw Spa Pet Resort is the newest pet spa and hotel in Omaha. The facility specializes in overnights, daycare, and grooming of pets and features a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled air-circulation system, which helps to prevent airborne illnesses. The Paw Spa offers brightly colored, 9×9-ft. suites that come equipped with TVs and Kuranda beds, which are slightly elevated and chew-proof. Owners are encouraged to bring toys, blankets, or anything else that may make their pet feel more at home to leave in the suite.

Kevin Irish and Sheila Kusmierski in a play area at the resort.

Irish and Kusmierski in a play area at the resort.

Co-owner Kevin Irish says, “We’re animal lovers. We have three dogs and a cat,” who hang out with the animal guests to promote socialization. “I always wanted to be a vet,” he says, “and this is my second shot at a career with animals.

The Paw Spa also features a 1,000-sq.ft. indoor doggie play area for exercise and mingling, complete with palm trees, toys, and a special turf that guarantees cleanliness for animal guests. Next door is a second enclosed area for the swimmers, where canine guests can take a refreshing dip in the bone-shaped, 85-degree indoor pool (no deeper than two feet deep for safety). “We have hip-waders for the little guys,” explains Irish. “This lets them learn to swim in a controlled environment.”

Both play areas are constantly supervised by staff and are equipped with cameras so pet owners can view their animals from home or while on the road. Paw Spa’s Kitty City provides cats with condos that have separate compartments for food and bathroom breaks, and even a digital aquarium for entertainment. Cats can also hang out and climb the large, indoor structure in the Catio.

All three pet spas provide personalized attention, 24-hour monitoring by staff, on-call veterinarians, and frequent potty and playtime breaks. With accommodations like these, your beloved Fido or Fluffy will definitely be in good hands while you enjoy your summer vacation guilt-free.