Leaving behind a beloved family dog while going on vacation can cause a lot of stress for both pet and doting owner – but a new luxury boarding facility on Raynor Avenue is giving local animal lovers a better option.
Starting next month, the Hydrant Hotel will offer vacation-like experiences for dogs and cats at its premium boarding facility, which will also offer day care services, professional grooming, an agility course for local pet-owners and a retail store selling premium organic pet food.
“It’s the next best care after your own,” said owner Anthony Pollina.
For the past nine years, Pollina and his wife Rebecca have been running a similar boarding facility in Southold called Dog Town, which has been embraced by the local community. “We really gave the people of Southold the ability to go on vacation without worrying about the dog,” Pollina said.
That’s because the facility’s philosophy is firmly entrenched in keeping the animals happy, Pollina says.
Dogs staying at the Hydrant Hotel will each have their own spacious, individual room, and trained staff members will play with them all day long in large indoor and outdoor play areas.
“Everything we do is based on love and affection,” said Pollina. “It’s the same model that people work with their dogs at home. We’re just trying to replicate that the best we can.”
The husband-and-wife duo decided to open Dog Town because of their own pets. They never felt comfortable traveling because they didn’t want to board their dogs at a veterinarian, where their beloved pets would spend most of the day locked inside a cage. That can cause a lot of anxiety in animals that naturally thrive on social interaction and exercise, Pollina explained.
“If you go on vacation, would you book it at a hospital?” Pollina said. “It works for some people, but it didn’t work for us. We knew we weren’t alone out there.”
He admits that the concept of a pet hotel sounded “a little insane” at first, but when Dog Town opened its doors nine years ago, the Southold community immediately fell in love with the idea.
“It really changes the whole idea of boarding,” he said. “We give them exercise, socialization, treats, love, affection – we do it all.”
The Hydrant Hotel incorporates all those same ideas, but on a larger, more modernized scale.
The 10,000-square-foot facility on Raynor Avenue is double the size of Dog Town’s building, and the size of the property has allowed them to build five large outdoor spaces for exercise and play.
An advanced heating and ventilation system with ultraviolet and infrared lighting will keep airborne viruses at bay, and isolated ventilation zones will prevent scents in the dog boarding area from traveling to the cat boarding area (and vice versa).
More indoor space also means the Hydrant Hotel can accommodate double the number of animals – and even throw in a few “luxury” suites, which include more space, human-like beds and more lavish treatment.
And, just like at Dog Town, animals staying at the Hydrant Hotel will be treated to constant stimulation and affection from pet care attendants.
Dogs will socialize with each other in communal play areas, separated by dog size and with plenty of supervision. For dogs that don’t play nicely with others, there are isolated areas where they can play fetch with a staff member without other animals around.
“Dogs do really well when they’re tired,” Pollina said. “When you let a dog get stressed out, they’re not having fun anymore. It’s important to give them space to burn themselves out.”
The Hydrant Hotel will also offer day care services for owners who don’t want to leave their pet home alone all day.
“The dog can spend the day playing and then come home exhausted,” Pollina said. “You don’t have to come home after a long day and work your dog out.”
Local businesses could offer day care for their employees’ pets as a company perk, he says, which is an arrangement he has with some companies in Southold.
“We want everybody to find some purpose to be here or with their dog,” Pollina said. “Our whole goal here is to make this a community project like it was in Southold.”
Even if local pet owners aren’t interested in boarding their animals with the Hydrant Hotel, Pollina hopes they will check out the retail store at the front of the building. “We carry foods that most companies don’t carry,” he said. “The cleanest ingredients, lots of organic stuff – that’s really important to us.”
He also plans to open an agility course on the property next summer, where local pet owners can run their dogs.
“We want the whole community to get involved,” he said. “That was our favorite part of creating Dog Town – how much we got to work with the community.”
Boarding rates will be similar to the rates at Dog Town, Pollina said.