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Unleashed Consumerism

With services that cater to your pet's needs, every dog can have its day--or at least its own bed, aromatic shampoo and even teeny cashmere sweaters to match yours.

November 08, 2000|BETTIJANE LEVINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Of course you love your dog, but just how much?

Would you pay someone to sleep with him when you're away? At Paradise Ranch, a cage-free kennel in Sun Valley where dogs frolic outdoors all day, your pooch can have a human-size bed in a real bedroom, with a real person to cuddle up to all night.

"We call them body buddies--a service we provide for dogs who are used to sleeping with their humans," says Bill Davis, who owns the kennel with his wife, Kris Goddard. The couple, along with their canine guests, live in a big house (tastefully tropical in decor) on the 2-acre property that boasts grassy fields, covered patios, fountains and pools for Fido's pleasure.

Davis says his goal is for dogs to go nighty-night as comfortably at the kennel as they would at home. Some sleep with the owners, others with their paid human companions. Those who'd rather sleep alone can take their pick of bedrooms furnished with adult or child-size beds. And for mutts not permitted on furniture, the Davises offer pouffy pillows on the floor all over the handsome house. As far as we know, person-who-sleeps-with-dogs is a brand-new job description in the employment realm, perhaps one that not many folks would opt for. But Joyce Mills of Pasadena says she loves the work. The former interior designer and author's assistant says she grew tired of her previous life and wanted to "get into the animal industry because dogs have always been my first love."

After doing office work at the ranch for a while, she started volunteering two or three nights a week as a body buddy "because I knew it would help the dogs. Sometimes I have four of them curled up with me on the bed," she says. Her only regret is that when she's away from home, her own four chihuahuas miss her.

Paradise Ranch, 10268 La Tuna Canyon, Sun Valley, $45 per night, $5 extra for a body buddy.

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People who bathe with dogs? Thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, do it every day, says Holly Riddel, 34. The former Los Angeles jeweler says she's lathered up with her Yorkshire terrier and her King Charles spaniel for years.

"Whenever they need to get clean, I take them into the shower or tub with me. I've never taken them to a groomer," she says with pride. "I think the more interaction you have with your dog, the better it is for both of you."

Riddel, now living in San Francisco, says she realized long ago that "we don't need this huge assortment of different products for pets and for people. One perfect product that works for both would suffice."

So she hired a chemist, and together they formulated an aromatic body-wash/shampoo that is olive-oil- and aloe-vera- based and that purportedly pampers the skin and hair of both species.

Launched in July, Hairoma's four natural scents--fir, grove, vine, tangiers--are subtle enough for man, woman or dog, Riddel says. The product ($14 for 6 ounces) sells where discriminating petophiles shop. It's also available on the Internet, at http://www.petclick.com.

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And now, people who shop with dogs--for outfits that match.

Of course, the clientele for mommie-doggie fashion is understandably small, but a goodly number of buff pooches and parents are sniffing out the chic new Fifi & Romeo boutique at 7282 Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles.

The place specializes in canine couture for petite breeds, along with some outfits to match for the humans. Teeny cashmere sweaters, some beaded, embroidered, or festooned with feathers, are sometimes teamed with human-size sweaters and outfits that coordinate or match. Though it may sound a bit much, it isn't when you see it. That's because the two women who own the shop, the design team of Penelope Francis and Yana Syrkin (she is costume designer on "Ally McBeal") turn out to be the Versaces of canine couture.

From simple little yellow rain slickers (owned by Oprah's pooches) to exquisitely shaped and decorated wool and cashmere items (in the dog-closets of Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Diane Sawyer, and the British royal family, among others), the Fifi & Romeo collection is a tasteful update on the legendary Parisian fashion houses that have been doing bits and pieces for their clients' dogs for dozens of years.

Fifi & Romeo dog clothes have been selling at places like Barneys New York, Fred Segal, and Brown's in London for about two years. The designers opened the new Beverly Boulevard flagship shop this month, they say, in order to provide a gathering place where their most ardent fans can sip champagne and shop. They also offer their entire collection of furniture, objets, pillow-beds (with pockets for breeds that like to burrow), dog carriers and dog jewelry. Prices for sweaters start at about $125 and escalate from there.

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