6 Lavish Dog Spas Across America

A French bulldog gets a face massage while having a bath during a spa treatment session.
A French bulldog gets a face massage while having a bath during a spa treatment session.
ISAAC LAWRENCE, Getty Images

After I left for college, my parents and younger sister filled the void with a Jack Russell Terrier. If you're at all familiar with Jack Russell Terriers, you know that they're high-energy, high-maintenance and highly intelligent. On days Sinatra doesn't get to the dog park, she finds more destructive ways to exercise "“ namely, chewing drywall. Leaving her home alone for more than a few hours is a risky proposition and leaving her alone overnight is out of the question. Enter the dog spa.

We're not exactly sure how Sinatra spends her time at Dogtopia "“ my sister suggests that the proprietors make all the dogs cobble shoes "“ but it always leaves the pup so tired that she sleeps the whole ride home. Let's take a look at some of the other more, uh, unique, doggie daycare and boarding services available:

1. Stay: A Modern Dog Hotel "“ Chicago

Is your pup packing a few extra pounds after the holiday season? Then Chicago's Stay might be the perfect remedy. The 30,000 square foot facility features an aquatic fitness center with a custom designed lap pool, which uses paddle-in-place currents to "effectively increase muscle strength and endurance." All dogs wear life vests and receive a one-on-one workout, with a 25-minute session setting you back $20. You can also keep an eye on your dog while you're away via one of Stay's two Web cams.

2. Yankee Dog Retreat "“ Boston

I don't know who thought it was a good idea to name an establishment in Boston after baseball's Evil Empire "“ maybe it's a not-so-veiled indication of what Red Sox fans think of their New York brethren "“ but the Yankee Dog Retreat boasts a lineup of amenities worthy of a champ. From purifying clay treatments and conditioning milk baths, to essential massages and emergency deskunkings, this place is guaranteed to pamper your pooch for the right price.

For the on-the-go dog looking for a trendy way to stay fit, 20-minute Doggy Yoga sessions provide an "indirect way to teach obedience and focus," while aggressive or shy dogs might benefit from one of YDR's Positive Energy sessions. Among the items for sale in the boutique, the dog house at the bottom of this page would make some celebrities blush:

3. America Dog & Cat Hotel "“ Las Vegas

What happens in Vegas, (sits and) stays in Vegas. This luxurious hotel boasts private suites for dogs and cats and "play pals" who look after your pets during the day. The large free range area features 32-inch color TVs, which play "doggy cartoons," and, from the Web site: "pleasant soothing jazz music such as ENYA and SADE." I think my dog's partial to Snoop.

4. Ritzy Canine Carriage House "“ New York

Ever dropped $20 for room service that tastes like dog food? Well, at the Ritzy Canine Carriage House, the room service is dog food, including dishes made from organic meats, vegetables and basmati rice. While it also boasts deluxe accommodations, such as orthopedic bedding and a $175/night Presidential Suite replete with "a toy chest filled with all kinds of stimulating toys, a television, VCR and special selections from our video library," the Ritzy Canine is perhaps best well known for its one of a kind boutique. I suppose there are worse ways to spend money on your pups.

5. Cha Cha's Doggie Daycare "“ Sacramento

Cha Cha's offers a wide variety of services and activities for your dog, including field trips, weight camp, and arts and crafts. Perhaps some particularly artistic former visitors were responsible for the facility's Rainbow Brite-inspired walls. Cha Cha's also hosts birthday parties with liver-flavored cake, a balloon chase, and, my personal favorite childhood game, bobbing for hot dogs. Mmmm. From their Web site: Cha Cha's is like "a day at doggie Disneyland." Pluto would be jealous.

6. Paradise Ranch Country Club "“ Sun Valley, Calif.

The artsy intro to the Paradise Ranch Web site says it all: "A resort so exclusive it doesn't accept people." People, after all, can't legally request a "bed buddy" with the concierge. That's right, with the largest staff to dog ratio on the West Coast, Paradise Ranch employees will actually "cuddle up and snooze the night away right next to your dog in order to bring them that much closer to home" for an extra $20 per night. That's just one way that Paradise Ranch promises to make your dog, however shy he might be, feel a part of the family from the time he sets paw inside the country club's secure gates.

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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12 Fascinating Facts About Elephants

Photo by David Heiling on Unsplash

Known for their strong family bonds and intelligence, elephants have fascinated humans across time and cultures. As the largest living land mammal, a male African bush elephant typically stands more than 10 feet tall and weighs an incredible 6.6 tons. Although poachers still kill approximately 100 African elephants every day, conservation groups are working to save elephant populations from extinction. Read on for a dozen things you might not know about elephants, from their long history as a political symbol to their legit firefighting skills.

1. Contrary to popular belief, elephants are not exactly scared of mice.

Baby elephant looks startled.
iStock.com/szaphotography

Cartoonists have long depicted the funny juxtaposition of a giant elephant terrified of a tiny mouse. Zoologists and elephant trainers have conducted experiments to test whether elephants are truly afraid of rodents, and it seems to be a myth. Mice themselves don't frighten elephants, but the pachyderms have poor vision and can get extremely startled when anything suddenly scurries by. Elephants are probably more afraid of a mouse's sudden movement than the mouse itself.

2. Wild elephants could have populated the U.S., but abraham Lincoln nixed the idea.

A mother and baby elephant taking a walk.
iStock.com/saha_avijan

In 1861, President Lincoln received gifts, including elephant tusks and a handmade sword, from Siam's King Somdetch Phra Paramendr Maha Mongkut. The king of present-day Thailand also made an interesting offer: Mongkut proposed that Siam would send pairs of male and female elephants to the U.S. to breed in the forests. Americans could then tame the wild elephants and put them to work for the economic benefit of the country. William Seward, Lincoln's secretary of state, replied to Mongkut in 1862, graciously declining his offer. He told the king that since the U.S. already used steam power to efficiently transport goods within the country, elephants simply wouldn't be practical.

3. Trunk-sucking is the elephant equivalent of thumb-sucking.

Baby elephant sucking its trunk.
iStock.com/bucky_za

When baby elephants want to comfort themselves, they instinctively start sucking their trunks. Trunk-sucking is also a way that a baby elephant can learn how to use her trunk (which contains between 40,000 and 50,000 muscles). Although most elephants, like human babies, grow out of sucking behavior, some adult elephants also suck their trunks when they feel anxious.

4. Elephants have been the symbol of the Republican Party since 1874.

Elephant symbol for the Republican party.
iStock.com/Niyazz

Although elephants had been occasionally used as a symbol for Republicans during the Civil War, cartoonist Thomas Nast, who drew an elephant in an 1874 issue of Harper's Weekly, gets the credit for linking the animal with the political party. In later cartoons, Nast continued to draw an elephant to portray the Republican Party, and other cartoonists adopted it, establishing the animal as the GOP symbol.

5. Barnum & Bailey once trained elephants to play baseball.

U.S. stamp with a circus elephant on it.
iStock.com/Valerie Loiseleux

Baseball is America's pastime, so why not teach elephants how to play the game? In 1912, thanks to the work of Barnum & Bailey's elephant trainer, Harry L. Mooney, the intelligent animals played their first ballgame. Although playing baseball was just one of many tricks that circus elephants learned, Barnum & Bailey capitalized on the concept of elephant baseball by using the image on posters to sell tickets for shows.

6. Some elephants have been convicted of murder.

Elephant foot in chains.
iStock.com/Pentium2

Although elephants are typically viewed as gentle giants, they are capable of attacking and killing humans. Male elephants undergo musth, a hormonal change that makes them temporarily produce tons of testosterone, resulting in aggression. But even female elephants can kill. In 1916, a town in Tennessee charged an elephant named Big Mary with first-degree murder for killing her handler. Big Mary, who worked for the Sparks Circus, attacked her handler, possibly after he struck her with a bullhook as she was trying to eat a watermelon rind. Big Mary was convicted and sentenced to execution. Some 2500 residents of the town gathered to watch Big Mary's dramatic hanging, which featured a 100-ton crane and a chain that broke under her weight.

7. Elephants grieve death.

Elephants mourning the death of a baby elephant.
iStock.com/brittak

Although we can't know exactly what elephants feel and how they process death, they seem to show signs that they experience grief when a member of their family (or another elephant) dies. When they see a dead elephant, they may vocalize, use their trunks to "hug" the dead animal, or stay with the carcass for hours. Some elephants have also tried to bury the dead body by covering it in leaves and soil.

8. Trained elephants fight fires in Indonesia.

Elephant with water spewing out of its trunk.
Ishara S.KODIKARA, AFP/GettyImages

You probably won't see an elephant riding on a fire truck anytime soon, but elephants in Indonesia are a vital part of fighting fires. In 2015, East Sumatra was plagued with multiple fires over a period of several months, so 23 trained elephants from a conservation center went to work. Carrying water pumps and hoses, the elephants helped patrol the land and made sure that new fires weren't ignited.

9. If you're in Zambia, you might see some elephants strolling through your hotel lobby.

An elephant walks into the lobby of the Mfuwe Lodge in Zambia.
An elephant walks into the lobby of the Mfuwe Lodge in Zambia.
Lars Plougmann, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Some guests at Mfuwe Lodge in the African country of Zambia get an unusual animal sighting before they even leave the lobby. Each year between October and December, families of elephants walk through the lodge's reception area to eat wild mango from a tree in the courtyard. The elephants' giant size and seeming indifference to their hotel lobby surroundings make for quite a striking sight.

10. In 2015, scientists recorded elephants yawning for the first time.

An elephant's open mouth.
iStock.com/filrom

Although scientists speculated that elephants probably yawn, scientists from the University of California, Davis captured the first video of an elephant yawning. If you enjoy watching sleepy animals stretching and yawning, this is for you. Warning: extreme cuteness ahead.

11. Elephants starred in YouTube's first-ever video.

Man taking a photo of an elephant on his phone.
iStock.com/iudmylaSupynska

On April 23, 2005, Jawed Karim made internet history when he uploaded the first video to a certain nascent video-sharing website. Karim, one of YouTube's founders, posted an 18-second scene of himself standing in front of elephants at a zoo. In the video, he speaks about how cool the elephants' long trunks are. As of August 2019, the video has more than 74 million views.

12. Elephants love to snack on old Christmas trees.

Two elephants snacking on pine trees.
VADIM KRAMER, AFP/Getty Images

Zookeepers at Tierpark Berlin, a zoo in Germany, feed unsold Christmas trees to their elephants in early January. The trees are certified pesticide-free, and the elephants seem to enjoy their special snack. Berlin isn't the only place where elephants eat Christmas trees, though. Zoos in Prague also treat their elephants to the tasty conifers.