This is the spot for Spot when you can't bear to leave him alone all day or you think he just needs a friend who will sniff his butt. The fact that this daytime-only facility is sparkling clean and odorless is a bonus that greets you at the door. The friendly staff provides a cage-free social opportunity for dogs (the dogs are screened for sociability first), and is serious about the nurturing and loving they dole out. Playrooms have durable tunnels and tug toys, and an outdoor playground includes a "facility" known as Potty Park. Inside, dog-friendly movies are shown in a room with couches, armchairs and beds (not to worry -- if Fido isn't allowed on the bed at home, he's not allowed on the bed at Ruff Life, either). Your pet receives a report card at the end of the day, detailing his behavior. A day (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.) costs $25, a six-hour half day is $17. Discounts are available to frequent visitors.

Best Place To Find An Apartment If You Have A Big Dog

Apartment Experts

Got a golden Lab that ought to wear a drool bucket? A German shepherd that eats couch cushions for fun? Finding an apartment when you have pets, especially dogs, can be taxing. But Tom Mastromatto's company, Apartment Experts, specializes in finding a place in the Valley (as well as in Tucson) that will welcome your precious pooch. He'll even find a home for your hard-to-place breeds such as pit bulls or rottweilers. The apartments pay Mastromatto a commission; the service is free to you and Fido.

Best Way To Feed Your Pet Without Getting Up Off The Recliner

The Pet Pantry

You've just settled onto the couch for a Charlie's Angels weekend marathon when you realize that Rover will be out of food before Farrah Fawcett's 12th swimsuit change. You could get off the couch, get dressed and fight traffic all the way to the local pet-food monolith. Or you could pick up the phone and call the Pet Pantry, wait a couple of days, and open your front door to find high-quality dog food waiting for you in a sturdy white bin. If you're in its delivery area, which includes all of central Phoenix, as well as Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Carefree and Fountain Hills, Pet Pantry will bring you canned food, kibble and treats for dogs and cats at prices generally comparable to what you'll find at brick-and-mortar stores. Now if it only delivered beer . . .

Best Place To Watch Your Dog Foam At The Mouth

The Dog Wash

Try washing a large dog in your bathroom tub, and you'll find yourself sitting up and begging for Gina Zoppa's self-service shop. The Dog Wash, which also does conventional grooming, provides all of the materials you need to make Rover clean again: brushing and drying tables, full-size raised tubs, and professional-quality spray nozzles that quickly rinse out one of the many shampoos offered. The management isn't stingy, and patrons are encouraged to rinse, lather and repeat. Following Fido's bath, a super-powered blow dryer disperses and removes all the loose hair and moisture that would otherwise end up on your sofa. The best part, aside from the unbelievably low price tag of $7, $10 or $12 depending on size, is that one of the friendly staff members will trim Spot's nails, gratis. And you get your fifth wash free.
Has your special someone been giving you that "why do you keep giving me these cheap roses that arrive wilted and die in a day" look lately? Community Florist can help you say "I love you" without also saying "I'm a cheap S.O.B." Its $10 roses are big, beautiful, and look like they cost about five times as much. The flowers are wrapped nicely in tissue, not stuffed into an ugly plastic sleeve, and come with a sincere admonition to "never cut the stems with a scissors." The owners are friendly and always seem delighted to discuss the characteristics of each blooming bud they sell. In other words, this isn't your average $9.99 florist. Check out Community Florist when you care enough to give the very best -- but don't want to pay for it.

Did you know that people breed lap goats? Goats that are small enough and so friendly that all they want to do is cuddle, follow you around like a puppy, and nibble at your feet? While we prefer to keep our livestock outdoors, we admit we're charmed by the darling critters at Darlyn Pygmies, a private ranch in Buckeye that breeds, trains, shows and sells pygmy goats. More than 70 goats live here, all pedigreed and registered with the National Pygmy Goat Association. Pygmies are naturally petite, standing between 16 and 23 inches tall. They like to talk, and sound pretty much like cats. They love to have things to stand on. Poop's not a problem -- think rabbit pellets. They don't eat much (ours won't even eat weeds, just alfalfa). And if you're zoned for dogs, a pygmy goat is fine, too. Don't plan on cheap, though. Although pet goats go for $50 to $250, a show goat can cost $500 to $1,000. Not a bargain, but for such a cute new friend, not a baaaad deal, either.

Best Blast-from-the-past Personal Shoppers

Go-Kat-Go

Go-Kat-Go, a time-warp of a department store, is the only retro shop around that will do time travel at your bidding. The husband-and-wife team who run this happening haven can fill your oddest vintage custom order from the '40s on up, often within weeks. We've asked them, just this year, to find very specific items -- from a clunky turquoise swag lamp to a huge plastic fern to the devilishly hard-to-find "Blue Lady" velvet painting -- and they've come through every time. As much as we like placing wacky special orders, shopping for nothing in particular is half the fun at Go-Kat-Go. Furniture, clothes, appliances -- it's all there, and realistically priced. Proprietors Chris Swanberg and Brandi Kvetko may be the only antique dealers in town who'll answer your request for a Patty Duke alarm clock with, "We just got that in!" We never, ever ask, "From where?"
Everybody knows it's the yoga teacher who makes the class, and Candace Rose is a knowledgeable, well-trained and genuinely peaceful instructor. More important, she's a teacher with a sense of humor. Unlike some yoga instructors, who forget that this is Phoenix, not Katmandu, Rose doesn't take herself too seriously. She cracks jokes throughout the class and keeps the spiritual lectures to a minimum. Rose has tailored her set to a North American audience, making the poses easy for the flexibly challenged and the environment relaxed enough for the spiritually insolvent. For anyone who's ever left a yoga class feeling cheated and a little flaky, Rose's $5 yoga hour is a down-to-earth alternative.

You've arrived at that interminable stretch of the calendar where the mercury has stalled above the 100-degree mark. The only chink in your scheme for never being away from air conditioning or shade for more than 90 seconds at a time is how to do your grocery shopping. All hail Eddie Basha, whose Bashas' at 40th Street and Thunderbird now offers drive-through grocery service. Simply phone in your order (fax and Internet orders are also available) by 10 a.m. for same-day pickup, drive your icy-cool Suburban up to a reserved cabana, and open your window just long enough to utter your name into a microphone. A few moments later, a friendly attendant will load your groceries into the back of your car. All coupons and club card savings apply to this luxurious service, which carries a nominal $4.95 service charge. For those of you who refuse to leave your house at all, delivery service is also available.

Among all the predictable contemporary bargains at this former Disabled American Veterans Thrift Shop, we've discovered cool vintage dresses, nasty '70s Spanish-Med wall hangings, a silver potted plastic tree, and even a pair of blond wood '50s end tables. On our last visit, we found some swinging two-tone wingtips. (So what if they were golf shoes! We just yanked the cleats out!) Cecilia, a wonderful lady with excellent makeup, will comment cheerfully on your selections as she rings them up, and she won't make you surrender your unpriced item "to the back room," where it will never be seen again. More good news for the thrift-minded: Every other Wednesday is half-off day, and seniors older than 60 get 30 percent off every Monday.

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