Pets Guide 2010: Picks of the Litter

Our editors' go-to guide for animal essentials in the Hub.

| Boston Magazine |
Photograph by Jessica Scranton

Photograph by Jessica Scranton

Boarding

After a fire destroyed its block a few years ago, the Continental has come barking back, better than ever. The floors at this groomer/kennel are clean enough to eat off (if you’re a dog, anyway) and the employees are as welcoming to two-legged customers as they are to the four-legged ones. Best of all, dogs are given lots of outdoor space to cavort in, while a separate room accommodates ornery older pets needing more alone-time. The sole inconvenience is that “guests” must complete a day of daycare beforehand โ€” but afterward, you’ll be glad the other dogs are all as well behaved as yours. $45/day; 1729 Centre St., West Roxbury, 617-323-9511, bedbathandbone.com.

Daycare

You may fantasize about bringing your pets to work, but, honestly โ€” is your cramped cubicle going to look any better to them than it does to you? Bark Place, on the other hand, is all play and no work for furry friends. Co-owner Kathi Molloy greets clients in the morning, while husband Bob sees them off at night; in between, there are neighborhood strolls and crate-free frolicking in a spacious “Playcare Studio” filled with toys. Factor in the central location, $5 local pickup/drop-off service, and “report card” detailing how your dog spent his day, and Bark Place is a working parent’s dream. $30/day; half-day and package rates available; 1721 Washington St., Boston, 857-362-7494, barkplacesouthend.com.

Dog Walking

Founded in 2003 and fast beloved, the Urban Hound serves Beacon Hill, the Back Bay, the South End, and South Boston with group and individual walks, as well as play groups and field trips in a raucously dog-manic company van. Kitty care? You bet. Upping the convenience factor, clients can manage their appointments and payments online via Betta-Walka Pro software, developed right here in Boston. And in May, owner Rebecca Willson expands with a luxury pet-care center in the South End. Starting at $15/30 minutes (group), $18/20 minutes (individual); 617-755-5775, urbanhounds.com.

Grooming

If it’s good enough for Gisele’s Yorkie, we’re betting Pawsh is good enough for your mutt, too. Beyond any celebrity elbow-rubbing, each pooch that arrives at this Back Bay salon/boutique receives primping by expert staffers, who will recommend the best shampoo and grooming techniques for the breed at hand. Throw in some free gourmet doggy biscuits from the retail store, and it won’t be long before Rex starts asking for his own agent. $50โ€“$60/visit; 31 Gloucester St., Boston, 617-391-0880, pawshboston.com.

Grooming (DIY)

Anyone who’s had to wrestle a wet, wriggling ball of fur will appreciate the convenience of the self-service washing stations at Fresh Pond’s LaundroMutt (and its larger B.Y.O.D. facilities in Southie and Newton). Just walk your dog up the ramp to the tub, where clip-on straps help keep him in place, and start sudsing. Prices don’t discriminate against bigger breeds and can be easily customized, from $5 for a quick rinse to $23 for the works (shampoo, conditioner, and blow-dry). 489 Concord Ave., Cambridge, 617-864-9274; 617 E. Broadway, South Boston, 617-765-4800; 208 Sumner St., Newton Centre, 617-431-4363; laundromutt.com.

Pet Sitting

The Pooped Pooch is one pet-sitting service that lives up to its name. Energetic animal lover Mark Walter and his partner, Mark Armour, are happy to sit your dog or cat (or iguana or bunny) at home. But for no extra charge, they’ll take your dog along with a pack of canine pals to play outside all day while you relax on the beach, guilt-free. When you come home, she’s bound to be, well, dog-tired. $25/daytime play group, $60/overnight, in South Boston/South End/Dorchester; 617-755-3288, thepoopedpooch.com.

Pet Supplies

Rather than stocking wall-to-wall Science Diet and calling it a day, the owners of the Pet Cabaret have stuffed their small Roslindale store with more than 20 all-natural food brands โ€” which would be daunting if it weren’t for the knowledgeable staff ready to walk you through each one (not to mention the frozen raw diets, herbal remedies, and vitamins). Bird, turtle, and even chinchilla supplies are on offer, too, as well as toys, collars, leashes, coats, grooming equipment, and things you never knew you needed, like a bike basket made just for Toto. 4404 Washington St., Roslindale, 617-323-7387, thepetcabaret.com.

Treats and Toys

With its signature home-baked snacks showing up everywhere from posh hotels (the Liberty, Nine Zero) to celebs’ shopping bags (Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck), eight-year-old Polka Dog Bakery is by now running far ahead of the pack. But it’s hardly slowing down: It added a store in Jamaica Plain last fall and continues to roll out new products, like a line of doggie “power bars” that debuted this winter. The array of canine and feline edibles is just part of Polka’s appeal, as the shop also stocks supertough gear and the kinds of toys that will wear your little chompster out, not the other way around. 256 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617-338-5155; 42 South St., Jamaica Plain, 617-522-1931; polkadog.com.

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