Dog lovers need not feel guilty about heading out of town for summer vacation and leaving Fido behind. Paradise Luxury Pet Estate provides such a posh environment for dogs that “their people” may just want to vacation there, too…

A far cry from a cage-lined kennel, Paradise is a boarding, daycare and grooming facility — a “country club for dogs,” said owner Holly McConnell. Here, canine companions go outside five to seven times a day, weather permitting, to run and play with other dogs of the same size, age and temperament in large partitioned areas of shady 12-acre estate.  Paradise’s experienced dog handlers, who provide a tireless arm for games of fetch and plenty of love and attention while mom and dad are away, supervise playtime. The property is fully fenced to provide a safe and secure environment for each beloved pet.

When it’s time to cool off indoors, the pampered pups curl up on their choice of leather sofa or individual sling bed in a comfortably air-conditioned and tropically decorated room in one of three brick homes on the property—the Main House, the Gatehouse and the Courtyard pool house. When they return from a romp outdoors, they find their couches refreshed, floors mopped, and fresh water in their bowls.

Separate accommodations are geared for “couch potatoes” – older and less active dogs; puppies’ one year old and younger; large and active dogs; medium sized dogs; and small dogs. “They go into rooms according to personality and size, “said McConnell. “We don’t put the puppies in with the seniors.”

There’s even a room for special needs dogs—those requiring medication, have mobility issues or other medical problems that demand close monitoring. Outdoor play yards are also kept separate according to the dogs’ size and activity level.

Why all the fuss over a family pet? McConnell, who previously raised and showed Golden Retrievers and owned a pet accessories business, said she created a place where she would want to send one of her own dogs. “I want my dog to be somewhere where she’s free to roam and be outside with people that are trained in handling dogs and know dog behavior and dog illnesses. I can’t put my dog in a cage.”

Although she has a degree in human psychology, McConnell says she much prefers studying dog behavior to that of people. “I love dogs. They just say it the way it is. There’s no guessing.”

Before pets can visit this Club Med for canines, they must have proof of updated Bordetella, distemper and rabies shots, must be on a flea and tick preventative program and must be spayed or neutered. Each new dog must also visit for a “Trial Daycare” session and be able pass the pass the “Ella” test. If they get along with McConnell’s gentle, eight-year-old Golden Retriever, Ella, they can become part of the pack. Dogs who exhibit signs of aggression and aggression-prone breeds such as pit bulls are not accepted. “Our job is not to fix a dog that needs to have some one-on-one training, our job is to have them play and be socialized with other dogs. They have to have fun here or they’re not welcome.”

Nervous parents can rest at ease knowing that there is a manager on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week and surveillance cameras in every room. A fire alarm in each house is wired directly to the Palm Bay fire department. Although city zoning does not allow McConnell to have a veterinarian on site, she works with several area vets as well as those of her clients. If a dog becomes ill, she or a member of her staff will drive the pet to its personal vet.

Boarding isn’t the only service offered at Paradise. Doggie daycare is offered Monday through Saturday. The facility also provides boarding for pets during hurricane evacuations. The same health and behavior requirements apply for daycare as for boarding.

For those looking to spend a little bonding time with their dog, Paradise’s “Pond Parties” are a virtual doggie Disneyworld. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, owners of large dogs can bring their pooch for an hour and a half of water play in the estate’s two-acre, alligator-free artesian pond. Tennis balls, ball throwers and play sticks are included with admission, as is a dog-washing area complete with fresh towels. Daycare dogs or pets in the boarding program may also participate in the Pond Party on Mondays.

Celebrating its fourth birthday this July, Paradise Luxury Pet Estate has mainly grown through the word of mouth of satisfied dog owners. McConnell credits her simple business philosophy with the key to her success: “If people and dogs don’t come in to have a good time, we won’t take them in.”

Know Before You Go…

(Rates are subject to change.)

  • Paradise Luxury Pet Estate is located at 220 Chandler Road, NW in Palm Bay. Phone: 321-728-2200. Web: Check website for daily hours and drop-off, pick-up times.
  • Boarding is $40 per night for medium and large dogs and $38 per night for small dogs. High season for the boarding facility is June through January, so McConnell recommends making reservations at least two months in advance.  There is a nightly discount of $5 for owners of multiple pets. Additional charges apply for dogs with special needs.
  • Doggie daycare is available Monday through Saturday, during above business hours for $22 per day or $90 per week.
  • Pond Party for large dogs is available on Wednesdays and Saturdays 8-9:30 a.m. for $10 per day. Daycare or boarding pets may also participate on Mondays. With a Pond Membership of $100 per year, visitors pay only $5 for each Pond Party and receive special discount offers throughout the year.
  • Grooming starts at $38. Special rates are available for daycare dogs.

Polished Pets

You’ve enjoyed Mother’s Day and Father’s Day; why not give your dog a much-deserved day of pampering? Paradise’s Grand Spa Day includes an hour and a half of playtime at the Pond Party, a quick wash and Turkish towel rub down, a 45-minute nap and leisurely lunch, then a rousing session of fetch with one of Paradise’s trained handlers. The day ends with a cleansing bath using Paradise’s exclusive cleansing shampoo, an ear cleaning and nail trimming. The Grand Spa package is just $50 ($45 with a pond membership).[mappress]