«Sometimes we get requests when dropping off the dogs to pop the TV or the radio on, it’s like setting up the kids before the parents come home,» she said. «It comes down to the fact we are all so busy, and people are doing the bigger work hours, it takes away that guilty feeling of leaving your dog at home all day.»
Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world with more than half of us living in a household with at least one cat or dog, according to a 2016 survey of 2022 people by Animal Medicines Australia. Of those who owned dogs, nearly two in three considered their dog to be a member of the family rather than just a companion, an increase since 2013, the survey found.
Ms Harrison’s dogs, golden retriever Scout and cocker spaniel Chops, spend five days a week at the service at $102 a day for the pair. And while Ms Harrison, 35, from Naremburn is sometimes called «the crazy dog lady» by friends and colleagues, she says the cost is worth the peace of mind.
«I would do anything for them both, their care and happiness, it comes above money, we have just decided to make our dogs a priority,» she said. «My partner and I have to forecast our spending, we spend less on ourselves than the dogs.»
With more owners becoming less inclined to keep their spending on a leash, boarding facilities are also trying to keep up with the demand.
We spend less on ourselves than the dogs.
Linda Meumann, owner of Calabash Kennels and Cattery in Arcadia, says the attitude towards pets has changed drastically since first opening twenty years ago.
«When we bought and took over the previous kennels they were terribly run down, I was surprised people would even put their dogs in there,» she said. «People want now an experience for their dogs, they don’t want them to just be locked in a cage.»
Over the past decade, Ms Meumann has upgraded the kennels on a continual basis to create a «five-star facility» featuring a grand pool and sensory garden.
«Our most expensive room is our premium suite, which has a television with an outdoor area, and that is $150 for a single dog for the night,» she said. «Every dog is an individual, every dog has its own anxieties and fears, we need to lift our game when it comes to boarding to provide that premium quality of care.»
Dog care brand Dogue, which offers remedial massage, mud baths and even aromatherapy for boarding canines at seven sites across Sydney as well as interstate, has also seen a «huge increase» in the number of customers seeking the luxury experience.
«These massages are great for dogs that suffer from arthritis, cracked skin or circulation problems,» Shauna Perry from Dogue said. «We offer bespoke treatments for our customers, it’s what we pride ourselves on.»
Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.