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IN THE LAP OF LUXURY POOCHES GET PAMPERED AT CANINE COUNTRY CLUB.

Byline: Holly Edwards Staff Writer

SUN VALLEY - For the pampered canine clientele at Paradise Ranch, the pleasure begins as soon as they step out of the chauffeur-driven Mercedes Benz.

From there, the pooches - owned by the well-to-do and such celebrities as Shaquille O'Neal and Calista Flockhart - are escorted through lush tropical gardens and into an elegant Spanish colonial-style B and B - that's ``bed and biscuit.'' Their temporary home is decorated with exotic hand-painted murals, plush leather couches and wild animal-print rugs and blankets.

Billed as a country club for dogs, Paradise Ranch in Sun Valley offers everything from a doggie day spa with hair, nail and massage services to sleep-over ``bed buddies'' who will curl up with truly pampered pets in private suites.

While some may scoff at the notion of indulging canines with such human pleasures, the husband-and-wife owners of the ranch, Kristyn Goddard and William Davis, said dogs appreciate all the sights, smells and comforts the ranch has to offer.

``Dogs love the smells of the plants, trees and dirt. It's a natural environment with birds and squirrels, not a fenced-in concrete prison,'' Goddard said.

``A home is also something a dog loves. They might not notice the beautiful decorations, but what dog doesn't love to lie by the fireplace and listen to the familiar sounds of music or the television?''

While the ranch has catered to such famous pet owners as Olivia Newton-John and Anthony Hopkins as well as O'Neal and Flockhart, most of the more than 1,000 clients who use the ranch are simply people who want the best for their pets, the owners said.

Prices are not as princely as one might expect for such royal canine care - $45 per night for boarding, $25 to $75 for grooming, $50 for the first 30 miles of door-to-door limo service, and $500 to $750 per week for obedience training.

``This place was a godsend when my husband and I both worked because I could drop the dogs off on my way to work and bring them home tired, fulfilled and stimulated,'' said Karen Estudillo of La Canada Flintridge, who said she requests bed buddies for her Maltese and Yorkshire terrier when she goes on vacation.

``The idea of sticking my dogs in a cage is abhorrent. I'd rather not have a pet than deal with that kind of guilt. But here, it's beautiful, clean and thoughtful.''

Goddard and Davis said they owned a traditional kennel in San Antonio, Texas, for years before they decided to try the cage-free kennel idea.

``I got tired of watching the dogs pace, whine and cry so we decided to offer two programs, the traditional kennel and an in-house kennel with obedience training,'' Goddard said. ``Within a month, all the dogs were in the house.''

With their unique business venture booming, the Los Angeles natives decided to return home five years ago to open a cage-free kennel with all the luxuries Angeleno pet owners crave. They named their new business in honor of their 15-year-old malamute-wolf mix, Paradise, who has the run of the place.

The dogs spend their days wading in the tropical ``Labrador lagoon'' or romping through open-air playgrounds dotted with grass huts and fragrant tropical plants.

In the evening, they are fed a diet provided by their owners - which often consists of such specialty items as steamed rice, vegetables and cooked chicken - and then retire to one of the spacious living rooms to watch television with ranch caretakers.

At bedtime, the dogs are led back to their suites, either with their human bed buddy or a group of canine roommates. Each suite is uniquely decorated and has its own theme.

There's the Malibu suite for smaller dogs, with miniature wrought-iron beds and beach scenes painted on the walls. The Carriage suite features Dalmatian-print pillows and blankets in honor of the breed's history as carriage guard dogs.

Goddard and Davis share the most luxurious room - the exotic Safari suite - and also serve as bed buddies.

Dog obedience classes are a key component of the Paradise Ranch program and all dogs must pass an aggression evaluation test before they are admitted, said Davis, a dog trainer with more than 30 years' experience.

Since the Diane Whipple dog mauling case, an increasing number of dog owners are bringing in their pets for the ranch's anti-aggression program, avis said.

``I've always been able to read dogs and they've always been able to read me,'' he said. ``They sense I love them and I'm not going to hurt them. I've never met a mean dog, but I've met a lot of abused dogs.''

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1 -- 2 -- color) Chili the mutt checks out the view while Lexi the beagle and Gypsy the miniature schnauzer recline on a bed, left, in the beach- themed Malibu room at Paradise Ranch in Sun Valley. Co-owner Kristyn Goddard, above, frolics with some of her guests.

(3) Paradise Ranch co-owner William Davis gets acquainted with Segana, a Newfoundland.

Charlotte Schmid-Maybach/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Words:837
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