how much is that armani collar in the window?

Surviving the decadent dog days of summer: Where Houston's elite board their pooch

Surviving the decadent dog days of summer: Where Houston's elite board their pooch

News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare_1
Outside Hotel ZaZa, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Charlie Williston O'Connell Yarborough, anticipates a springtime stroll through Hermann Park. Photo by Steven Thomson
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare_8
Photo by Steven Thomson
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare
The lobby of the Pampered Pet Inn Photo by Steven Thomson
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare
The solemn interior of Pampered Pet Inn Photo by Steven Thomson
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare_1
Adding an aspect of worldliness to a dog's social circle, healthy mingling is a crucial facet of the daycare regimen. Photo by Steven Thomson
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare_8
The vibrant vignette at John Andrews. Photo by Steven Thomson
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare_6
Portraits of John Andrews adorn the recently-renovated walls. Photo by Steven Thomson
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare
The selection at John Andrews ranges from pure class to kitsch. Photo by Steven Thomson
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare_7
Photo by Steven Thomson
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare_1
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare_8
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare_1
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare_8
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare_6
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare
News_Steven Thomson_doggie daycare_7

While the summer months find the social set traipsing between exotic private islands and Hill Country second homes, life at HQ never stops — especially for the dogs who have come to expect every last luxury. For this article in our Summer Fun series, CultureMap went out on the town to determine the most decadent of doggie daycares — because for the consummate Inside the Loop canine, only the best will do.

With its proximity to the intelligentsia network of the Texas Medical Center and Rice University, the Southhampton neighborhood is replete with highly rated veterinarians and accompanying kennels. The Pampered Pet Inn's elite staff (all groomers have worked at the inn for over 15 years) promises a "classical" boarding experience, with perks like "turn down" service at night and the signature Kennel Concert Series, in which boarders are serenaded with classical music.

Rover may miss the comforts of the manse, but at least he'll get his daily enlightening quintet concertos to which he's become so accustomed.

Yet the alluring yuppie accoutrements may partly be a load of yap: Pampered Pet Inn boasts a lobby adorned with Victorian-style puppy portraiture, but a CultureMap tour of the back revealed dog tired animals locked in traditional wire-gated kennels. If harsh fluorescent lighting is a personal pet peeve, than keep moving. But there is that turn-down service.

"We just provide each dog cage with a bed and turn off the lights," a receptionist at Pampered Pet Inn told CultureMap when asked to describe the experience.

A similar situation was found on South Boulevard, where Carlisle's Salon & Suites offers expert grooming, yet the dogs ramble around a doggish set of preschool playground furniture. Satisfactory, sure — but far from five-star.

For a more chic scene, head just a bit east to Hotel ZaZa, where the concierge will cover everything, from gluten-free dog bone needs to walks in the surrounding park and Museum District. Pooping and scooping at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's I.M. Pei-designed Cullen Sculpture Garden is just what the cultured canine deserves.

But the quintessential temporary habitat for the dandy doggie is a bit off the stiletto-beaten path, ensconced in the commercial district just below River Oaks: John Andrews Pet Spa and Retreat. Seasoned socialites would never consider placing their poodle in the hands of anyone other than Andrews, an alum of the New York School of Dog Grooming and provider of topnotch dog indulgence for 20 years.

"John Andrews is like the Ceron of doggie groomers," attests Mary Beth Aspromonte, a proud bichon frisé owner. "He does all the best dogs, including those of Franelle Rogers, the Biggios, Fayez Sarofim, Elyse Lanier, Bob Luna, Marcia Backus — the list goes on and on."

The "Doggie DayCare" service is still a relative steal ($20 per day), but the real draw is the just-renovated boutique tucked to the side of the salon. There, patrons can purchase couture collars and one-of-a-kind onesies, as well as draw inspiration from vignettes of well-appointed puppy palaces — one of which boasts a purple satin duvet and wrought iron bed frame, whose traditional delicacy is shrewdly offset by a towering Franz Kline-esque abstract expressionist canvas.