Pampered pooches at Paradise Luxury Pet Resort

Photos by Shaun Haugh

They capture our souls and wrap us around their furry little paws. Space Coast residents love their pets. Canine or feline and everything in between, we are passionate about our fuzzy (and sometimes not so fuzzy) companions. Join us in getting to know some of the area’s outstanding pets, their advocates and their humans.

Heather-CarelliHeather Carelli | Owner, Paradise Luxury Pet Resort

Whoever coined the phrase, “it’s a dog’s life” hasn’t been to Paradise Luxury Pet Resort, a cageless and crateless resort for pampered pooches, located on 12 acres in Palm Bay. The resort provides a fun, stress free environment for dogs to stay and play. Along with boarding, Paradise also offers day play and professional grooming.

The facility includes two separate houses for large and smaller dogs, large outdoor play yards, two ponds, air conditioned play areas for those hot summer days, special care rooms for older or special needs dogs, comfortable bedrooms with couches, blankets and plenty of beds for naps and bedtime.

“We know the dogs; we know their personalities and their temperaments,” Heather Carelli explains who now owns Paradise Luxury Pet Resort. “If a dog is in a cage, he is stressed out and you don’t get to know them…so how can you tell if something is wrong? That’s really important and what makes us different.”

Space Coast fur babies are separated by temperament and size after an initial analysis and an introduction to other dogs to see their reaction. Although, Heather explained that even if a dog appears aggressive the pooch is not immediately excluded from the fun.

“We work with dogs who may be initially afraid or have not been well socialized,” Heather explains. “It’s amazing to see a frightened dog gain confidence and have fun. It makes life much better for them and their parents.”

Naturally, dogs are also required to have up-to-date vaccinations and flea protection.

Heather herself has a deep love of dogs that originally inspired her to start a day care and boarding facility in Melbourne in 2005. She knew she wanted to start her own business but wasn’t sure what kind, “I looked around my living room and all I saw were dogs!”

So what’s a typical day like when you’re responsible (at times) for over 100 dogs?

Heather and her team begin at 7 a.m. Phones start ringing and parents begin dropping off their babies. In the morning, the “big guys,” as Heather affectionately calls them, are sent to the pond to start playing. Boarding dogs are fed and the little dogs go out to nice shady yards with splash pools and toys. Around lunchtime everyone “goes inside” for a nap. Then more play in the afternoon with trainers and staff. The dogs are always supervised. All day care pups are picked up by 6:30 p.m., sent home worn out and content.

At the end of the day, all the dogs are exhausted and tucked in for the night. All dogs sleep in bedrooms in with their friends of like size and temperament.

As most puppy parents know, boarding can be stressful for animals and their owners. But selecting the right setting will ease the mind of you and your precious companion. At Paradise Luxury Pet Resort, the name says it all!

Paradise Luxury Pet Resort, 220 Chandler Road, Palm Bay (321) 728-2200,


Luann-appleLuAnn Apple | Founder of Melbourne Avian Rescue Sanctuary

Founded in the spring of 2008, Melbourne Avian Rescue Sanctuary (M.A.R.S.) was formed to provide a place for unwanted, neglected, abused and sometimes abandoned exotic birds and to aid people whose life changing situations no longer allowed them to keep their cherished pet bird.

Founder LuAnn Apple began the endeavor after seeing a need in the area and because of her love for exotic birds. The all-volunteer staff of M.A.R.S. concentrates on the well-being of each rescue that is in their care. LuAnn and a crew of volunteers provide a comfortable and clean environment for the residents, keep them well fed, keep them active and even help create feathered friendships among them.

“The work load is constant and without a caring group of bird knowledgeable volunteers all the above would not be possible,” LuAnn said. “Their commitment is the most valuable resource our rescue or any rescue can have.”

The sanctuary allows resident birds freedom to fly, to sit in trees and to feel what it is like to get a bath from real rain. They promote interactions between members of different species. M.A.R.S. raises money on its own and relies on donations from supporters of the rescue.

For more information call (321) 725-8800 or visit

lisa-packardLisa Packard | Executive Director, Eau Gallie Arts District

Although Homer is a purebred, Lisa adopted him at the Alexandria Virginia shelter. A serendipitous meeting brought the two together.

“I was there on business actually and mentioned I wanted a dachshund and the director took me in the back where they had just received him. He wasn’t in foster care for long.”

After her move from Virginia to the Eau Gallie Arts District, Lisa is now able to take Homer to her office as the executive director of the Eau Gallie Arts District.

“He loves the basket on my bike,” Lisa said. “He’d probably just sleep there while I rode around.”

Dachshunds are fiercely loyal and hard to train. Homer has paws like a German Shepherd so he can dig a very deep hole very quickly, according to Lisa. He’s never met a stranger; loves everybody and everybody loves him back.

“He once got out and ran over to the local rec center and got inside. I couldn’t find him anywhere until someone said they saw him go inside. I go in the rec center and 20 kids are all around him rubbing his belly and he was in ‘pig’ heaven. Nobody was upset that there was a dog in the rec center. He makes boundaries disappear.”

This article appears in the August 2015 issue of SpaceCoast Living. Did you like what you read here? Subscribe to SpaceCoast Living