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Dog Tales: Pampering Pets in Los Angeles

By Xiaomei Chen

A Ms. Elizabeth Von Arnim laments, “Though parents, husbands, children, lovers and friends are all very well, they are not dogs.” Some people in Los Angeles may find it true. Otherwise, pet businesses, from pet spa, dog care services, boutiques, exotic dog healthcare services to dog funeral in Los Angeles, wouldn’t be booming despite the economic recession.

Pet Spa

Daniel is as angry as he is confused. He howls and spins, but Marco Lalau and his colleagues pin him down (for safety reasons) and cut his knotted hair till its pink skin is exposed. When it is more than he could bear, he tries to bite. Marco has to force his mouth into a muzzle and puts him into a Hydro Bath machine when he finds it impossible to hand wash him.

“He is a bad dog. The owners did not take the time to train him. ” Marco Lalau, 25, owner of Bubbles Pet Spa, comments, “They should send him to the spa more often so he is used to it.”

While Daniel hates his experience at Bubbles Pet Spa, the spa is considered a fun paradise by those who love to have their dogs pampered as if they were humans and by the dogs who frequent the spa.

Located on Palos Verdes Boulevard in Torrance, California, the spa is equipped with the state-of-the-art Hydro Bath pet cabin, a $25,000 state-of-the-art pet spa cabin with relaxing jets that soap, rinse and blow-dry pets in less than 25 minutes. Bubbles Pet Spa offers additional services ranging from flea baths, natural shampoo and conditioning, nail clippings and teeth brushing to dog grooming. For the very hands-on owners, washing the dog themselves is also an option at Bubbles Pet Spa. The self-wash station is available for $15, equipped with towels, shampoo and conditioner, spritz, and nail cutters.Besides the pet-friendly services, Bubbles offers holistic dog food, treats and vitamins.

Lalau started his business with his brother Marcelo three and a half years ago, when he was a senior at California State University in Long Beach. His business has been profitable and growing despite the financial recession in United States. One of the secrets of his success is defining his market clearly: targeting those who don’t mind spending much money on their beloved dogs. Lalau chose an upscale location near the beach where the average annual income is $100,000. Lalau spends only $20 on his own haircut, but he charges at least $120 for one poodle haircut. There is a skin care salon next door. Often, people drop off their dogs and get their own nails done while they wait.

Another secret to Lalau’s success is dog-friendly services. His employees are dog lovers and enjoy catering to dogs more than humans. Eloisa Demelo, a former hairdresser for humans, has been serving dogs for 15 years and enjoys her work.

“It’s nice to make dogs look pretty and tidy. It is creative work. Dogs are easier to serve because they are not picky. They listen to you. They love you unconditionally while people give in order to take.” However, not all dogs enjoy these services and not all dogs are pleasing to work with. Some dogs poo and pee while having a haircut! Some even bite. This is another difference between serving humans and serving dogs.

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