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Pampered pets park it here

July 11th, 2003, 04:38 PM
Frank Matys: The Advance

Fluffy and Rex never had it so good.
Air conditioning, colour TV and cuddles on demand - for these and other "creature" comforts, members of the canine kingdom can thank Roy and Janette Mainey, the brains behind a luxury getaway spot that has pets and their owners salivating in appreciation.

It was north of Barrie, in Severn Township, on a seven-and-half-acre spread ringed in towering pines, that the Maineys - English ex-pats who arrived in Canada with two suitcases and as many dogs - erected the Snuggles Pooch and Kitty Holiday Camp.

Three years and more than 300 customers later, the couple is enjoying growing demand for their services, billed as top-of-the line boarding accommodations for man's best pal and his feline friends, too.

Technically, this is a kennel, though only in the most remote sense of the word.

"For many of our customers, these are their babies," says Roy, guiding a reporter past the front office to reveal a brightly lit hallway adorned with decorative touches, tailor-made for the most discriminating guest.

"They don't like to see them put in a pen."

Walls of concrete block are painted in soothing pastels and finished in playful wallpaper boarders; beds come with comforters and, at least a dozen of the 17 available rooms, are located within viewing distance of televisions mounted near the ceiling.

Country music plays softly in the background. More calming, says Janette, then "rap" and some of the other styles available on the dial today.

Here, it is all about making Fido feel at home. "This is the sort of thing we would like for our own pets," adds Roy.

Visiting canines have access to a lengthy outdoor run, and each door includes a large window capped off with a decorative cloth valance.

"They are the types of dogs who will sleep on the bed, or in the bed," adds Janette.

Pets are treated to regular walks, play sessions and leash-free romps in a nearby bush. Outside in the fenced-in play area, a large wooden structure dubbed "Pooch Island" contains a pair of splash pools, ideal for cooling off during the dog days of summer.

Cats are housed next door, in a separate but equally luxurious kennel outfitted with all the amenities of home, and then some.

Those wanting to treat their favourite tabby to an extra-special experience have at their disposal two executive suites from which to choose, both embellished with virtual-vision fish tanks, televisions and electric-log fireplaces.

All told, Snuggles represents more than $200,000 in investment, a tall order for two people who arrived in Canada with no credit to speak of this side of the Atlantic.

Instead, they relied on the sale of Janette's former business - a residential home for the elderly in England - to kickstart the operation.

Roy, a carpenter by trade, takes care of the decorative work.

The days are long and the work hard, but entirely satisfying for a couple of self-described animal lovers who have found their niche. "We talk business 24 hours a day," he adds. "Ideas are always coming into our heads."

For their part, customers appear undeterred by the price of providing their pets such royal treatment, which the Maineys concede is about double that of the average kennel.

Housing a single dog at Snuggles costs $23.50 per day; cats are $15.

Discounts are given for two or more pets to a room, and day care is also available. "They are animal lovers," he adds. "The cost doesn't put them off."

Owners are encouraged to provide as much information about their pets as possible, including details about medications and dietary needs.

They can be fussy in this department, admits Janette with a knowing smile. Like the customer who cautioned against touching their dog's back legs. "But it loves to be tickled on its tummy," adds Roy.

Yet another of their visitors required a cuddle before lights out. "So we do it," he says.

Snuggles Pooch and Kitty Holiday Camp is located at 4139 Fairgrounds Rd. For more information, call 329-1564.