Saturday, December 15

It’s a dog’s life

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A creative Cape Town trio has captured canine and human hearts by providing a home away from home for pets whose owners drop them off for daycare and extended stays

If you think the saying “it’s a dog’s life” is about difficult times, you’re barking up the wrong tree, after taking a peek inside the lives of guests at the @frits Hotel.

The doggy stopover will vie for glory as Guinness Book of Records’ biggest dog hotel on the planet when it opens in a new 2400m² Bree Street home later this year.

While the mutts are not offered overly fancy treats, such as bacon-infused water or a butler service, there certainly is a menu to make tongues pant.

The dog day spa and salon offers its canine customers an opportunity to step out in style after a pamper makeover session.

Picture: @Frits Dog Hotel

“The only decor in the spa is hanging plants. We wanted to create open space with glass so owners can see how we groom their pets,” says owner and founder Yanic Klue.

Each dog’s room is lovingly curated to ooze glitz and quirkiness and, of course, comfort.

Private suites are kitted out with Granny Goose duvets for comfort. Platinum suites include DSTV for the dogs to enjoy.

Picture: @Frits Dog Hotel

The room themes, look, feel and quirkiness of the brand was a collaborative process that took years to perfect.

“There was plenty of late-night brainstorming around a bottle of wine or two,” say Klue and her partners-in-paws, marketing manager Dante Ludolf de Koker and art director Bianca Geater.

Interiors are designed so that pets will feel cosy.

“We sourced all types of custom-made furniture and decor to ensure animals could relax to their farts’ content (basset hounds, we’re staring at you), and enjoy the trappings and fineries a plush pet palace has to offer,” says the trio.

Picture: @Frits Dog Hotel

A favourite suite is Jurassic Bark, which has its share of popular banana leaf print and even some pink flamingos, which have had several guests, canine and otherwise, contemplating larceny.

“A formerly popular suite, now more of an inside joke, is the Dogald Trump suite,” says De Koker.

“We created it to embody the glitzy, golden shine associated with Trump Towers – chandeliers, damask drapes and vintage dog family portraits created very a la Trump, but now people who select it do so as an ironic gesture.

“To be honest, the dashing dogs who stay in the Dogald Trump suite might make preferred leaders of the free world, while for more locally inclined politicos, there is a K9 Nkandla suite, but this one cost zero taxpayers’ hard-earned rands.

“The pièce de la resistance at this suite is a chance to enjoy all the trappings of a miniature Nkandla – sheshwe and all.”

Picture: @Frits Dog Hotel

A favourite feature at the hotel are live webcams so owners can check on their hounds, say the team. “We believe separation anxiety goes both ways so we have the cameras and staff on site 24/7 to ensure owners and animals are at ease.

“If an owner is far away and missing their pet, they sometimes call in to request specials like a one-hour cuddle marathon, or a soothing Sunday drive where one of our duty managers starts up the frUBER (@Frits Uber) and takes the lucky four-legged baby around town. It is touching to see the bond between animal and human. It makes what we do meaningful.”

While they have a bar area for pets, they don’t as yet have a Yappy Hour, but they do have Doggy Dating, aka “Fun Times in the Indoor Dog Park”, where owners and dogs can play inside while it is raining in the Mother City.

The indoor dog park, with benches and “Bark Bar” (beer strictly for humans of age) also provides an opportunity to mingle with other dog owners.

Picture: @Frits Dog Hotel

“Who knows? Love is always in the air around @frits.”

Klue says @frits started as a way to provide an accessible service to make pet ownership easier for Capetonians.

“You might think a dog hotel is exclusively available to those with plenty of cash, but we believe in accessibility and convenience. These days many eschew children in favour of pets. We wanted to be the place and service to which they turn for a home from home for their dogs.”

Clientele ranges from owners who live in apartments to frequent travellers and owners who want their pets to benefit from socialisation and play.

They do have celebrity pets and owners, but “confurdeniality clawses” means they won’t say who.

Can we expect anything new when they move to Bree Street?

“One thing we are excited about is an indoor pool where dogs can splash about and have fun.

“We will also be offering hydrotherapy sessions with infinite animal therapy, a rejuvenating and healing treatment for dogs to put the spring back in their step,” says Klue.

Certainly set for the woof of approval.

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