Tag Archives: pet transport

Pet Chauffeur Making A Difference During Hurricane Sandy

Dear David-

I really think you saved Clyde’s life– at least you extended it. We weren’t about to let a blackout take that great dog down.
But I really couldn’t get him up and down the steps, we were screwed. His legs were splaying out.

You saved our bacon by getting us that van tues night and that great driver!
Thank You So Much ~Ben

PS- Just got back to see the Giants lose! Boo!

Advertisements

Thinking of a New Pet? Why Pet Adoption Should be Your First Option

By: Laura Sesana

WASHINGTON, September 4, 2012- I grew up with dogs at home and naturally, when I moved out to college, I wanted a dog of my own. I wanted a perfect puppy and bought a Miniature Schnauzer at a pet store on Lexington Avenue in New York City, kind of on impulse. Luckily, we were a good fit, and she was my best friend and companion for 14 wonderful years.

However, after learning about the practices of pet stores and puppy mills, I wished I had done a little research and checked out my local shelter or the Internet first. Today, my husband and I have two dogs, both rescues from Petfinder.com. They fit our lifestyle perfectly, and our family wouldn’t be the same without them.

If you are thinking about getting a pet, there are several reasons to consider adoption before contacting a breeder or heading out to a pet store.

1. Save a life. Be a hero! By adopting a pet, you will be saving a life. Petfinder.com estimates that six to eight million pets got to a shelter every year. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), three to four million pets are euthanized every year because shelters are overcrowded and not every pet can find a home. By adopting a pet from a shelter, humane society, breed rescue group, or animal control agency, you will be saving the life of a very grateful animal.

2. Avoid supporting puppy mills and pet stores. By adopting a pet, you will not be supporting pet stores and puppy mills. Pet stores, online sellers, and people who sell their animals through classified advertisements in the newspaper often get their animals from puppy mills and are willing to sell them to anyone willing to pay, no questions asked. Puppy mills and pet stores are part of a very cruel industry where animals are kept in shockingly brutal conditions with little medical care. Breeding dogs in puppy mills are locked in small cages for years without human companionship or attention. After a heartbreaking life spent in a cage, these animals are then killed, abandoned, or sold at auction.

Pet stores will also sell an animal to anybody, without making sure that the animal will go to a good home, will be safe, and the new owners understand the responsibilities of pet ownership. Many of these animals usually end up in shelters- if they are lucky.

3. Find the right pet for you and your family. Bringing a pet into your life is a serious decision that must not be taken lightly. Before bringing a pet home, owners need to be aware that it is the beginning of a relationship that may last 10 to 20 years, and that a pet needs constant care, supervision, and companionship.

Even though pet stores are likely to have the cutest puppies you’ve ever seen, the cute factor is not everything. Taking a pet home based solely on its appearance can be a recipe for disaster and yet another reason why so many pets end up in shelters.

Whether a pet fits your lifestyle is much more important than what it looks like. A pet carefully chosen to fit your lifestyle is more likely to result in a lasting home for the pet and a happy life for the owner. “Some people think yellow labs are adorable as puppies and beautiful dogs. But a person who lives a sedentary lifestyle and does not like to go running or exercising should not have a lab,” Gail Buchwald, vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), told Parents.com.

You are more likely to find a greater variety of animals and a better fit for any lifestyle at a shelter or through adoption websites like Petfinder.com. Unlike pet stores, which are only interested in making a profit and moving their “merchandise,” shelters are more concerned with matching a person or family with a pet of the right breed and temperament for their lifestyle. Shelters have also spent time caring for the animals, know their disposition, and what type of owner they would be a good fit for. With so many pets entering shelters every day, you are very likely to find exactly the right pet for you.

Our dog, Emma- half gremlin, half hyena

Adoption is the way to go if you want a purebred animal or a one-of-a-kind. According to HSUS, about 25% of dogs and cats in shelters are purebreds. There are also a number of breed-specific rescue groups that have purebred adults and puppies for adoption.

Other people see the attraction in a unique mix. Some mixes have the positive characteristics of several breeds. Our dog Paco is a lab-collie mix, and he has the great qualities of both. He has a sweet disposition, is very calm, fantastic with kids, and can be trusted all the time. Our little one, Emma, is more of a mystery. When we adopted her at 9 months old, we were told she was a Chihuahua- Jack Russell mix, but I think she has some Cairn Terrier in her. My husband says that she is more like half gremlin and half hyena. To us, she is beautiful. She is lively and energetic, always getting into trouble. Both are unique, and we love them for it.

4. Shelter pets may have “baggage,” but this is not necessarily a bad thing! Many people think that a pet that is in a shelter is there because of some kind of behavioral problem. The truth is that there are many reasons that people have to give up their pets, most having nothing to do with the pet. These include moving to a place that does not allow pets, not having time for the pet, not being able to afford the pet, allergies, etc. Petfinder.com has a sheet on the reasons pets are surrendered to shelters, which explains that most of the time the reason for surrender comes from the owner and not the pet.

On the other hand, adopting a pet, which has had a previous owner, may already be toilet trained and have other positive characteristics. (See # 9, the case for adopting an older pet)

5. Shelter pets are healthy. Even though some pets may enter a shelter without being neutered or having proper medical care, most if not all shelters give the pet a thorough medical screening and will not clear the pet for adoption until it has a clean bill of health. Most shelters also spay or neuter the pet before adoption.

6. Adopting is much less expensive. While adopting a pet is usually not free, the adoption fee will usually cover spaying or neutering, distemper vaccination, rabies vaccination, heartworm test, and flea/tick treatment. These services can cost up to $2000 at a regular vet, but adoption fees usually range from $100 to $300. On the other hand, a puppy at a pet store can cost over $700 and these services are usually not included.

7. Time. Adoption usually focuses on whether the pet will be a good match for a potential owner. Shelters are more likely to help you find your ideal buddy because shelters don’t expect and don’t want you to walk out with a new pet in 20 minutes or less, the way pet stores do. Shelters understand that finding the right fit takes time and a few visits. Shelters also allow you to interact with a pet and spend some time together before you take them home. Moreover, most shelters will allow you to take the animal home on a trail basis and take the animal back if things do not work out.

8. Set a good example. Parents.com lists “setting a good example” as one of the reasons to adopt a pet. I don’t have children, so I can’t really speak to this point from personal experience, but I agree that adopting a pet can teach a child “how to care about those that others may view as castoffs.” Adopting a pet can also teach children that they can make a difference by saving an animal’s life.

9. The case for adopting an older pet. For certain people and families, adopting an older pet may be the best choice. There are several benefits to adopting an older pet. For one thing, there are fewer surprises when you adopt an older pet. From the outset, you will know its full-grown size; temperament; and food, grooming, and exercise requirements. Older pets are also easier to train because they are calmer and have more experience interacting with people. An older pet also requires less attention, is usually toilet trained, and settles into new environments more quickly than a younger pet.

Another wonderful thing about adopting an older animal it that it has experienced living in a home as well as being surrendered, and is ready to forge an instant bond with its new owner. Finally, as mentioned above, adopting an animal may represent a 10 to 20-year commitment that many people are not ready to undertake. People with certain plans for their long-term future as well as very elderly people would be good candidates to adopt an older pet. According to the ASPCA, even though the commitment level is the same, it is for a shorter period of time.

10. Not all breeders are bad. If you have looked into adoption and cannot find the right pet, the American Humane Society has a very informative page on how to identify a responsible breeder.

Connect to the Human Society here

——————————————————————————–
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com.

Pet Airways – The first pet only airline

Travelling abroad or in the US can be quite a taxing operation with so many things to organise.  For those travelling with pets this can be a lot more problematic.  Apart from ensuring that your pet has had the right shots, has up to date health certificates etc, the safety of animals in transit is also a big issue.   How it all happened

Pet Airways  are leaders in the field of pet comfort and safety during long haul travel.  The company was born after the founders, Dan and Alysa Wiesel,  kept running into difficulty with airlines when trying to travel with their beloved dog, Zoe.  There just seemed to be no suitable way for Zoe to fly with them whenever they wanted to go on vacation.  Finally they gave up trying to convince human airlines to transport animals more responsibly and decided to take up the cause themselves.  In 2008, Pet Airways was born.

Pet Airways is the first airline that caters exclusively for animals.  With the exception of the pilots (obviously, LOL!) and pet attendants onboard, all of the passengers are of the furry variety.  The beauty of this airline is that it’s run by pet lovers for pet lovers.  Every conceivable occurrence has been thought of to ensure that pets arrive at their destination healthy and happy.

Locations

At present, Pet Airways operates domestic flights only and flies to and from the following cities: Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington, Chicago, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles/Hawthorne, New York, Omaha and Phoenix.  If you need help finding reliable international pet shippers, feel free to contact us and we will point you in the right direction.

The plane

Pet Airways uses the Beechcroft 1900 as the plane of choice for flying animals around the country.  This plane was chosen because of its impeccable safety record.  The animals all travel in the main cabin of the plane, NOT in cargo and each pet has their own container.  There is a climate-controller on board which ensures that the pets will neither be too hot or cold.

As with traditional flights, tickets  are booked online. There are different size seats to accommodate the various frames of animals who may be travelling: your pet can only travel on a given flight if the correct size seat is available.  If there isn’t a seat available on the day you want to travel,  you can either choose a different day or be put on their waiting list just in case another pet drops out.

Pets are checked every 15 minutes during the flight, or as needed and have regular potty breaks.  Everything is done to ensure that they are not distressed at any point during the flight.

Fares

As with all niche/boutique enterprises, you must expect to spend a bit more than you would on human airlines.  Fares start from $149 per animal per flight, but keep an eye out as they sometimes have sales.

It’s great to finally see the issues of animal safety during flights being addressed in this way.  It’s a relief to have the peace of mind that while your pets are out of your sight, they are being looked after by people who love them as much as you do.

Pet transportation by Pet Chauffeur can help Taxi your pets to this location.

De-stress your dog with ‘doga’

Life in the twenty-first century is stressful for everyone.  While spas and retreat centers for city folk are doing a roaring trade during this global recession, our four-legged friends are increasingly feeling the need for some Zen-like calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Yoga for dogs, or ‘doga’ as it is also known, isn’t new but there appears to be more of a demand for combined sessions for stressed out owners and their pets.

Doga combines massage and meditation with gentle stretching for dogs and their human partners. In chaturanga, dogs sit with their front paws in the air while their human partners provide support. In an “upward-paw pose,” or sun salutation, owners lift dogs onto their hind legs. In a resting pose, the person reclines, with legs slightly bent over the dog’s torso, bolster-style, to relieve pressure on the spine.

Suzi Teitelman, a Florida-based instructor has been teaching ‘doga’ since 2002. She started it when she noticed that her dog liked to join her when she was going through her paces.  Suzi developed this into a business and says she has since trained more than 100 people around the world in doga, some from as far away as China and Japan. Disco yoga, kid yoga, beach yoga, spin yoga and yogalites are all part of her repertoire.

But how does yoga help dogs?  Can they really get the same benefits as human beings?

Animal therapist Dan Thomas is head of grooming at London’s Pet Pavilion company which introduced the scheme to the UK. He says he is amazed at the effect of the classes on the dogs taking part.  “After a few minutes even the most unruly of participants appeared to chill out, relax and become calmer,” he told BBC News Online.

Not everyone in the yoga community is comfortable with this. “Doga runs the risk of trivializing yoga by turning a 2,500-year-old practice into a fad,” said Julie Lawrence, 60, a yoga instructor and studio owner in Portland, Oregon. “To live in harmony with all beings, including dogs, is a truly yogic principle. But yoga class may not be the most appropriate way to express this.”

The fact that interest in doga is increasing indicates that lots of dog owners are finding this to be a beneficial time of exercise and relaxation with their furry friends.

Curious?  Well you can check out the doga class right here in NYC and see what you think at Doga Dog.  If you know of any others, you can drop us a line here at Pet Chauffeur and let us know.  Have fun!

Dogs Sniff Out Lung Cancer

Specially trained dogs can identify most patients with lung cancer by smelling their breath, researchers said.

Sniffing 100 breath samples from patients with biopsy-confirmed lung cancer, the dogs failed to flag only 29, reported Thorsten Walles, MD, of Schillerhoehe Hospital in Gerlingen, Germany, and colleagues online in the European Respiratory Journal.

Among 400 other samples from individuals without lung cancer, the canine sniff test gave false positives for just 28, the researchers found.

Click here to provide feedback
Action Points


  • Explain that specially trained dogs could identify most patients with lung cancer by smelling their breath.
  • Point out that the findings may be more important for confirming that human exhalations contain markers for lung cancer, which eventually may be detectable by more conventional means.

However, Walles and colleagues suggested that the findings were most important for confirming that human exhalations contain markers for lung cancer, which eventually may be detectable by more conventional means.

“This is a big step forward in the diagnosis of lung cancer, but we still need to precisely identify the compounds observed in the exhaled breath of patients,” said Walles in a press release.

Several earlier studies have found that dogs, with their keen sense of smell, can identify patients with various forms of cancer, including tumors of the breast, colon, and lung merely by sniffing. The proposition originated in 1989 with a case report of a man whose melanoma was diagnosed because his dog kept sniffing the lesion.

The dogs used in the current study were young family pets  —  two German shepherds, one Labrador retriever, and one Australian shepherd. Using test tubes containing exhalations from 35 lung cancer patients and 60 healthy controls, a professional dog trainer taught the animals to lie down in front of tubes with samples from the patients.

During both the training and the subsequent testing phase, each sample was given to the dogs only once so that they would not simply learn to recognize individual participants’ characteristic odors.

The testing involved 50 healthy people, 25 patients with histologically confirmed lung cancer, and 50 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). These were different individuals than those providing samples for the training phase.

In the cancer patient group, one patient had stage I disease, two each at IIa and IIb tumors, four were staged IIIa, five had IIIb disease, and 11 were at stage IV.

Blinded observers watched the dogs as they each sniffed at five tubes per session. If a dog appeared to hesitate in front of a tube, it was automatically recorded as an incorrect result. The investigators also took a variety of steps to keep from subtly influencing the dogs.

The testing was conducted in three phases. First, the dogs were presented with samples from healthy controls and lung cancer patients. Next, samples from lung cancer and COPD patients were presented. Finally, the dogs evaluated samples from all three groups.

Somewhat surprisingly, the dogs had the most difficulty in the first test, discriminating the lung cancer patient samples from those of healthy people. The total number of correct results from the four dogs was 22 versus 18 false results.

Accuracy was much better in the second phase, with the dogs correctly identifying 32 samples from the COPD and lung cancer patients against eight false results.

Results were better still in the third test, with 19 correct results and only one incorrect.

Overall, the sensitivity for detecting lung cancer was 71% overall (95% CI not reported). There was little difference in accuracy according to disease stage, the researchers indicated: All samples from the sole stage I patient had positive results in the sniff test. Accuracy rates for other disease stages were:

  • 75% for stage IIa
  • 75% for stage IIb
  • 94% for IIIa
  • 75% for stage IIIb
  • 63% for stage IV

The dogs varied somewhat in their ability to sniff out cancer accurately, with one dog scoring 68% of samples correctly while another had 84% correct results (kappa statistic 0.436).

Specificity overall was 93% (95% CI not reported).

Walles and colleagues also calculated “corporate dog decision” accuracy by counting as accurate only those results on which three of the four dogs gave the same result. Sensitivity of these group decisions was 72% (95% CI 51% to 88%), with specificity of 94% (95% CI 87% to 98%).

The researchers determined as well that the dogs were as accurate in classifying smokers versus nonsmokers, indicating that the animals were not simply responding to tobacco-related breath components.

Because their study ruled out a role in the results for smoking and certain other potential confounders, the current study is an advance over previous research on dog sniff tests for cancer.

It “confirms the existence of a stable marker (or scent pattern) that is strongly associated with lung cancer and independent of COPD,” Walles and colleagues wrote, “reliably discriminated from tobacco smoke, food odors and (potential) drug metabolites.”

Whether dogs will ultimately be better than machines for breath analysis remains to be determined, they indicated.

“Electronic nose technologies” are not yet practical because of their complicated sampling procedures and vulnerability interference, the researchers commented.

Dogs, on the other hand, are “virtually on the verge of respectability” for disease detection. Yet without better understanding of what they are responding to, it will be impossible to develop a reliable screening test for lung cancer based on their abilities, Walles and colleagues suggested.

“Unfortunately, dogs cannot communicate the biochemistry of the scent of cancer,” they lamented.

By John  Gever, Senior Editor, MedPage Today
Published: August 18, 2011

Pet Chauffeur Tries to Adapt to Tough Economy

The recession has not been kind to the pet industry. While their finances are in flux, pet owners are less likely to splurge on toys or grooming, and fewer vacations spell empty kennels at the boarding house. In fact, prospective owners are less likely to take on the financial burden of a new dog or cat to begin with.

As you can see in the video above, David Lang, owner of a Manhattan business called Pet Chauffeur, is keenly aware of these challenges. Fifteen years ago, Mr. Lang noticed that the subway system’s vast ridership included few dogs. Passengers can bring small pets on board in carrying cases, but owners of larger dogs cannot travel with their pets by subway, bus or taxi. Sensing he could fill a void, he founded Pet Chauffeur, a taxi service for animals, in 1996.

From his home office on East 36th Street, Mr. Lang coordinates a fleet of four orange-and-blue minivans and a staff of 12 dispatchers and drivers. Customers have the option of riding along with their pets, but many choose not to, leaving the drivers to learn their dogs’ idiosyncrasies first-hand. And dogs are not the only animals getting a lift: Pet Chauffeur has transported everything from leopards to bulk shipments of lab rats. But dogs are the most frequent riders, and Mr. Lang says the most popular destinations are veterinary clinics, grooming salons and boarding kennels.

The bulk of Pet Chauffeur’s $1 million annual revenue comes from its business in New York City, but its vans have traveled as far as Florida, and the company also coordinates the shipping of animals by air. Because many of his customers live in Manhattan’s tonier neighborhoods, Mr. Lang hopes to sell ad space on his vans to luxury retailers. “I got vans running up and down Fifth Avenue all day long,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want their perfume on top of a Pet Chauffeur?”

Despite these plans, Mr. Lang is wary of expansion. He used to run a boarding service and a pet supply retail Web site, both of which failed to weather the recent recession. He now concentrates all of his effort on transportation and has adapted his company to the new economic context in two ways: first, he targets high-end customers. In 2008, he came to the conclusion, “now’s the time to get rid of the people who don’t want to pay for our service anyway, and up the price, and go with the high-end people that want our service.”

Pet Chauffeur’s other post-recession adaptation is to collaborate with competitors. If Mr. Lang is unable to arrange a pick-up for a customer, he will refer that person to other companies Because the pet taxi industry represents such a niche service, Mr. Lang said, he’d “rather see someone go with the other guy than not go at all.” Mr. Lang added: “Anyway, we’ve got the best service, so they’ll come back to us in the end.” 

Dog Fancy Press Release

02/14/ 2002
by Dog Fancy Magazine 
 

Taxis will pass you if you have a dog (unless your’s can hide in a bag). But several companies have vehicles that will transport dogs. For example, Pet Chauffeur (212-696-9744, www.petride.com) has seven passenger vans specially designed for canine comfort and to hold luggage and pet owners, too. Each van has emergency equipment, including a stretcher, muzzle, disinfectants, and safety belt clips.
 
“We’d be able to take the dogs quickly to an emergency facility,” says owner David Lang, who has worked the show for five years. “All of our drivers are capable of handling and muzzling a dog.”

It’s a Fare Deal for Fido

     By Ralph R. Ortegas
      05/19/2001

 PET CABBIES OFFER QUICK PICK-‘EM-UP  
 
Vicki Ungar gave up yelling, “Hey, taxi!” to go across town with Molly, her lovable cocker spaniel.”Ten taxis will pass you before one will stop. I guess most don’t like people with animals,” said Ungar, a pet hospital manager who travels to work with her pooch daily.
 
David Lang, owner of Pet Chauffer, picks up another fare. Ungar gets Molly there using Pet Chauffeur, one of the city’s pet-transportation companies that allow humans along for the ride. Animal lovers who travel with sizable dogs, as well as iguanas, ferrets and other exotic critters, have turned to such companies after being banned from most other modes of public transport.
Cabbies take the most heat for passing on pets, objecting because of their size and even for religious and cultural reasons. Many drivers can’t handle fur. “I’m highly allergic to cats, I choke,” said Fernando Mateo, president of the 30,000-member New York Federation of Taxi Drivers, representing livery cabs. But the biggest objection comes from the potential backseat cleanup.
 
“Cab drivers don’t like to stop for pets because they fear they might do their business in the car,” said David Lang, owner of the Long Island City-based Pet Chauffeur. Potty accidents are no problem for Lang, whose five-minivan fleet comes prepared for cleanups. Lang charges varying rates around town, starting at $25 for 1 to 40 blocks. He also will go out of state. Locally, owners travel free and crates are not usually required.
 
Ungar calls ahead to schedule her 15-minute ride to work at the Park East Animal Hospital in midtown. Drivers usually arrive early, she said, and often will tune into Molly’s favorite jazz and classical stations for the ride. Dog and owner make at least 10 trips a week, pricey for Ungar since she started taking Molly to work in January. She declined to discuss how much she pays, but explained that 12-year-old Molly has cancer. “She’s very special, and a great companion,” said Ungar, who was recently divorced. “I’ll really do anything for my dog.”
Pet movers make trips to the vet, hospital, groomers, doggie day care, airports and New York’s animal havens.
 
“I take a customer three times a week from Tribeca to Central Park with her giant, beautiful German shepherd, Harley!” said Larry Reilly, owner of the Manhattan-based Pet Taxi. Reilly also offers tempting excursions to grassy country settings near mountains and lakes, and provides weekend service to the Hamptons. “Reunite yourself and your dog with Mother Nature,” he urges on his Web site, “Meet other pet owners who want to give their pets a better life.”
In 1999, Gail Pierangelino, a former deli owner and groomer from Manhattan, started a one-woman pet-travel business called Petex. Ever since, she has found customers who wouldn’t travel any other way with their animals. “They have no worries,” said Pierangelino, 47. “They call me up, and I’m there. It’s like having a private car for you and your animal.”

At an Indoor Pet Spa, Why Let the Dogs Out?

By Julie V. Iovine
11/19/2000

  
“DON’T overlook the pet industry. It’s big!” said David Lang, the owner of Pet Chauffeur, as he swiveled around at a red light and pointed a digital camera at the two Labradors drooling in the back seat of his bright orange minivan. ”Can I put them on my new Web site?”
Four years ago, Mr. Lang was the delivery guy for a pet store. Today he operates a five-minivan livery service with six drivers on call to drive the city’s most well-heeled dogs to their increasingly hectic weekly rounds of acupuncture, swim therapy, massage and grooming appointments. Pet Chauffeur even drove a miniature schnauzer to Atlanta recently for a man who refused to put his pet on an airplane. The dog’s trip cost $1,736. The man flew.

If the word of advice for ”The Graduate” in 1967 was ”plastics,” in 2000, think ”dogs.” There are 55 million pet dogs in the United States, and 43 percent of owners celebrated their dogs’ birthdays with a wrapped gift. So says an American Animal Hospital Association 1999 Pet Owner Survey that also found that 84 percent of pet owners referred to themselves as their animal’s mom or dad.

On Wednesday, Mr. Lang was dropping a couple of dogs off at the opening party for Biscuits and Bath Doggy Village at 227 East 44th Street. It’s the latest in extreme dog services that have many dog-lovers panting for more, and the rest of the population aghast. ”A lot of people are deluding themselves that animals have the same agendas and appreciations as themselves,” said Dr. Nicholas Dodman, the author of ”The Dog Who Loved Too Much” and ”Dogs Behaving Badly,” both published by Bantam. He noted that turning pets into surrogate children is the natural outcome of younger couples’ delaying reproduction and empty-nesters’ trying to keep a few warm dependent bodies around. ”The fact is that pets are now regarded as family, and people want to do anything they can for them,” he added.

But for every $450 cashmere dog sweater with a Gucci logo, and every bottle of Oh My Dog perfume now on holiday display at Saks, there also seems to be a new enlightened veterinary office or health center like Bonnie’s K9, which opened this fall in Chelsea offering underwater massage to ease the pain of dogs with cancer. The new Biscuits and Bath Doggy Village treads the line between excess and amenity. Petophobes, steer clear.

Housed in a former carriage house, the Doggy Village is a Health and Racquet Club for dogs and cats. Annual memberships start at $1,000. Lunch is available for both humans and dogs.

The village spreads over five floors, each with a greensward of AstroTurf the size and length of two bowling alleys. ”Why not have a wonderful place where people can play with their dogs freely and learn to be a better parent?” said Sandy Zuchert, the co-founder, with her sons Robert Zuchert and John Ziegler, of the 28,000-square-foot facility that cost $1.3 million to renovate.

The decor is Pet Provencal, possibly in honor of the French, who treat their dogs like full citizens of the state. There are white-washed picket fences around the plastic greens, bleached red-tile floors, blue-and-white striped awnings, a cafe around a gazebo, and strategically placed cement sculptures of dogs and cats in playful postures. The 30-foot lap pool in the basement is decorated with hand-painted tiles featuring ducks. On a tour, the two Labradors didn’t notice the birds. ”But did you see the cabana where we’ll blow-dry the doggies’ hair by hand?” Ms. Zuchert asked, as she bent over to greet one of the Labs with a mouth-to-mouth kiss reminiscent of a similarly riveting one in the movie ”Something About Mary.”

Though Ms. Zuchert, 62, compares the place most often to Central Park without restraint laws, it is also a day care and overnight boarding facility. Cats are kept in a neonatal-like ward with cages overlooking an aquarium and a wicker rocking chair. Ms. Zuchert calls it the ”kitty condos.” Drop-off dogs are taken outside every two hours to relieve themselves. While the two Labs were terrified of the steep stairs and their claws grated on the tile floors, they bounded happily out onto the turf. The indoor pool was another story. There was no way they were going to take a dip — too claustrophobic and redolent of chlorine for a couple of outdoor dogs with webbed feet.

Doggy Village is to a kennel what Ian Schrager’s Hudson is to Midtown hotels. Social chemistry will be everything. The restaurant on the top floor is meant to be a scene. Les Deux Magots in Paris it’s not, but there are intimate little tables with metal chairs gathered around a gazebo where humans can buy snack meals for themselves and organic treats for their pets while they all watch each other frolic. There are plans for book readings, parties and ”lectures for children on neutering,” Ms. Zuchert said. Animal education by way of puppy-training classes and behavior modification courses will be promoted in a big way. A veterinary doctor will be on the premises, available by appointment.

There will be agility classes — the latest update on show-off Frisbee throwing to golden retrievers in bandanas. It’s a workout: dogs race through a course, part steeple, part military obstacle. They slalom, they jump, they balance on see-saws, run through tubes, over ramparts, under bars and burst through something that looks like a collapsed parachute. The two guest Labs watched in muted horror, their tales stiff, while a visiting vizsla went berserk with anticipation. Andrea Arden, a professional dog trainer who will be conducting the classes, said any able-bodied dog can learn in a few months. Six group lessons cost $300.

Doggy Village is a vastly expanded version of the Zucherts’ Biscuits and Bath Gym at 1535 First Avenue and the Biscuits and Bath boutique, a much smaller operation focused on grooming at 255 East 74th Street. But it was Ms. Zuchert’s son John who started the ball rolling in 1990 with a dog-walking business he ran after graduating from high school. ”I was modeling and acting at the time and kind of neurotic about my dog,” Mr. Ziegler, 29, said. One day he tailed the dog walker to see if she would go to Central Park, where she was supposed to go. (”Don’t you ever follow your dog walker?” he asked.) Instead, she took his dog into a nearby building. ”I knew I could do much better than that,” Mr. Ziegler said. Last year, Biscuits and Bath Gym listed 800 paying members.

Part of the business is a nonprofit rescue fund. Stray dogs and cats on death row at the Center for Animal Control and Care will be brought in monthly for visits and cleaned up in the hopes of finding the animals homes. ”You go into the shelters and the animals are terrified and running around,” Mr. Ziegler said. ”Who’s going to take these dirty cyclones? Here, they’ll look clean and smell good. It’ll give them a chance to meet someone who really wants them.”

There were several homeless dogs at the opening party on Wednesday. A television crew milled around the cafe’s gazebo in anticipation of a ”wedding” to be staged between two former strays, Max and Cinder. The bitch wore an outfit donated by Vera Wang. Bruce Hammer, an onlooker who keeps his dog on Long Island, appeared touched. ”I foresee not just dogs getting married,” he said, ”but people getting married who meet while watching their dogs right here.” Unmoved, the two Labs yanked their leashes and headed for the door.

A Cab For Your Lab

By David Serchuk     See full size image
05/04/2003

Owner David Lang started Pet Chauffeur four years ago with one goal: to create a recession-proof business.

At the time, Lang delivered prescription pet food for high-end veterinarians. The vets told Lang their clients lacked transport for their animals around Manhattan. Lang was surprised. “I didn’t even know there was a problem with it,” he said, “because I didn’t live in Manhattan.”

Lang realized that no matter the economy, people spend money on their pets. Then he took a closer look at his clientele and realized their problem: Few city pet owners drive and fewer cabs take Labrador retrievers.

For Lang, it made sense. If it’s hard for you to get a cab, try getting one for you and a rottweiler. Not to mention that most cab drivers won’t take any animals becuase the animals might “do business” in the car, he said.

Also, many cabbies have issues with pooch passengers.

“If you ask them, they’ll say dogs are dirty, and we will not put dogs in our car,” he said, adding, “I love it that they hate them.”

In just four years, Pet Chauffeur has gone from one van to 11, and the company’s 20 employees ferry from 20 to 40 people and pets daily.

Their orange vans carry animals either in crates or roaming in the back. Animals can also go with or without their owner.

Business has grown steadily. Lang said the company had $480,000 in total sales in 2002, up 20 percent from 2001.

Pet Chauffeur charges $25 for a trip of one to 40 Manhattan blocks, $30 for 40 to 80 blocks and $35 for 80 to 120 blocks.

One reason for the company’s good health, Lang noted, is that his clients are among the wealthiest New Yorkers. Robert De Niro and his Burmese mountain dog are regulars. Janeane Garofalo, Sean “P.Diddy” Combs and Janet Jackson also use the company.

Non-celebs use it, too. Bruno Lauder and his large poodle, Indi, use Pet Chauffeur to ferry them from his Manhattan home to his Queens business daily.

Last year, Lauder spent $12,000 with the company. Lauder uses Pet Chauffeur because Indi gets car sick, and the company’s drivers are trained to drive smoothly. “David spends a lot of time explaining to them that they cannot be race drivers when you drive animals around,” Lauder said.

While 90 percent of Lang’s business is dog owners, he will transport any animal. A giant bearded dragon lizard was a customer – in a crate the size of a coffin – as were a pair of chimpanzees.

Now Lang wants to expand. Last summer, the firm did long-distance pet-relocation drives on a trial basis, with a pair of bulldogs going to L.A. for $6,100

Pet Chauffeur also has gotten into international animal shipping. After September 11, this has become tougher since airlines investigate every package.

The company does all the paperwork and even books the tickets for its customers. This might seem excessive, but as Lang knows, some pet owners will do anything for their pets. Or at least pay someone else to.