Pets: Pampering

Spoil your pooch to the fullest.

Photograph by Li Ward

Photograph by Li Ward

Sit, Stay, Preen

My dog Luna is small, white, and fluffy, and a man once stopped her on the street to tell her she had a “glamorous walk.” A 10-pound terrier mix, she’s the kind of pup you might peg as froufrou until you get to know her. She doesn’t go for diamond-studded collars or booties or caps or capes, so when I decided I wanted a professional photo of her, I knew we needed something more natural than a fussy portrait.

Li Ward, owner of Fat Orange Cat Studio in the Back Bay, shoots candids of pets in their natural habitats: at home or around their neighborhood. She has a gift for distilling those moments when your baby looks most like your baby, not like a model from a dog-show brochure. Luna is a happy, smart, playful cuddle-bunny, with a feather-duster tail and Milk Duds for eyes, and that’s what came through in Ward’s photographs. On the morning of the shoot, Luna badly needed a haircut, and she had some schmutz on her whiskers, but we’re not into perfection — and neither is Ward. She focuses on something a lot more important and timeless than good hair. She captures the animal’s spirit.

 Sitting fee $250; 617-834-9857,

One-of-a-Kind Ways to Spoil ‘Em Rotten

At-Home Pet Massage

While belly rubs are swell, they can’t compare to the handiwork of Arnie Katz of Katz and Dogz. The veteran masseur devotes much of his time to teaching his techniques, but will still make those all-important house calls to achy Boston animals. Using aromatherapy mists and herbal balms, Katz spends 30 to 45 minutes improving circulation, easing joint pain, and generally reducing your pet to a puddle of happiness. Jealous? Don’t be: He offers pet/owner massage packages, too. House calls start at $75, in-city; 617-650-2533,

Hotel Getaway

Book the complimentary “In the Doghouse” package at sleek boutique hotel Nine Zero, and they’ll outfit your room with treats, toys, and a plush bed in the size and style of your choice. Add-ons include room-service nummies like chicken-broth lollipops. Our favorite touch? Free use of cashmere dog sweaters, nattily embroidered with the hotel logo, on chilly days. 90 Tremont St., Boston, 617-772-5800,

Spa Escape

At Berlin-based Yankee Dog Retreat, yes, there are Hermès toys and luxury mud baths, but owner Jennifer Cermak believes pampering is all about being hands-on — an idea epitomized by YDR’s signature retreat package. Starting with a door-to-door shuttle, your pooch is the center of attention during a day of bucolic park or beach excursions, gourmet dining, light grooming, and spa treatments (which can be supplemented with a session of doggy yoga for an extra fee). Afterward, your pet is returned home relaxed and refreshed, and bearing a small treat for you, too. $100; weekend packages available; 617-710-8810,