The Pampered Pup

March 2020 View more

Illustrations by Kevin Sterjo

Looking to level up your regularly scheduled grooming sesh? Consider treating your pet to a specialized spa service. At The UpScale Tail (1419 Plainfield-Naperville Rd., Naperville; 630.632.8245,, dogs visiting for grooming services can stay for a relaxing aromatherapy bubble bath (prices vary per dog). “It just brings them down a notch and helps them relax, especially if they’re nervous,” says owner Kendra Otto. Or pamper your pup with a white tea and tea tree oil “Pawdicure” ($10 add-on to grooming cost), which includes a coconut oil massage to soothe any paw damage caused by sidewalk salt during winter walks.

Prefer a house call? Make an appointment for Wiggle Butts Mobile Dog Grooming (630.286.0340, to come to your home. Treatments such as a therapeutic Dead Sea mud bath or keratin treatment can be added on to a grooming session.


Looking for fresh new fare? Consider raw food. “If your dog didn’t have you to scoop food, they would eat a rabbit or a bird—raw meat, bones, and all,” says Sheila Spitza, co-owner of pet boutique Wet Nose (3041 Butterfield Rd., Oak Brook; 630.571.2400 and 1510 Commons Dr., Geneva; 630.232.7000; “Even though I love my dog, I’m not going to put a rabbit in his dish.” Food manufacturer Stella & Chewy’s makes frozen patties and morsels ($18–$27) from raw meat, bones, and organs along with organic fruits and veggies. Options range from Surf ’N Turf made with grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon to Duck Duck Goose made with cage-free poultry. “You’re truly feeding your pet as naturally as you can, but in a nice, user-friendly format—it’s already done for you,” Spitza says.

If bad weather has your pup feeling stir-crazy, there’s tons of indoor fun to be had at Wag ’N Paddle (1847 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville; 331.229.8660,, a local club for dogs and their owners. Facilities include three heated indoor pools and a 9,000-square-foot indoor dog park decked out with agility equipment and hill climbs. “All of our swim [sessions] are one on one with an employee in the pool,” says owner Shannon Bergman. “We can tailor each swim, so for a seasoned swimmer, we can play chase or play gates to really give them a good workout.” Monthly membership options start at $35 for five park visits a month; nonmembers can also purchase a la carte passes (such as $15 for a one-hour park visit or $45 for a single swim). Owners must provide proof of vaccines, and all dogs must pass an evaluation before they can play.


Teaming up with your dog to volunteer together is a great way to bond and give back to your community at the same time. Naperville Area Humane Society (1620 W. Diehl Rd., Naperville; 630.420.8989, offers two pet therapy programs for dogs and their owners to participate in after undergoing training. In Pawsitive Pet Therapy, volunteers visit nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals.

“Our volunteers and their dogs are just going to provide comfort and spread a little bit of cheer around,” says Lauren Lonski, humane education manager. “They’re really there to provide support and change up somebody’s day who might not usually be exposed to a dog.” Another program, Paws for Tales, trains volunteers and their dogs to visit area schools and libraries to support children struggling with reading. “It can be challenging for a lot of kids to read in front of adults or their peers, but when they’re reading to a dog, they really break out of their shell and open up and get more excited about reading,” Lonski says.


Book a portrait session for your pooch—and then deck your walls and desktop with the finished results! Here are three local photographers that specialize in pet photography:

Paw Prints Photography

Captured by Lorraine

NixPack Pet Photography


It’s time to upgrade that threadbare dog bed with a high-quality piece that will complement your home’s existing decor. “There’s so many dog beds out there that are poorly made and the fabrics just look juvenile,” says Spitza of Wet Nose. “For me, I want something that looks like a piece of furniture in my house—something that’s well-made, is going to wash well, vacuum up easily, and that the dog is going to just melt into.”

Wet Nose carries beds made with upholstery-grade fabrics in neutral palettes of gray, beige, and white. One of Spitza’s favorites is the Scoop Bed by Bowser’s Pet Products ($101), which features a cozy gray lining and a plush white corduroy exterior. “It’s remarkably easy to wash and it looks beautiful,” she says.


Finding out your dog has a serious medical condition such as cancer can be nothing short of devastating. Thankfully, the growing accessibility of specialized treatments for pets is giving owners more choices in the wake of a cancer diagnosis. Thanks to new equipment acquired in November, VCA Aurora Animal Hospital (2600 W. Galena Blvd., Aurora; 630.301.6100, now offers stereotactic radiation, a more targeted type of radiation therapy that reduces damage to nearby organs. Depending on the type and size of tumor, treatment could include three to five sessions rather than the typical 15 to 20, says Dr. Meagan Sowders, a radiation oncologist at VCA Aurora.


Make sure your furry friend knows they rule the roost with custom artwork and accessories for your home: Chicago-based Etsy artist Dellanny Camargo of DellArt creates colorful acrylics on canvas inspired by your dog’s image (

Belleville, Illinois-based Etsy artist BackRoadsPZ ( will put your dog’s photo on a throw pillow, pint glass, or serving tray.

Paint your own pet portrait during a Project Pet class at DIY art studio Pinot’s Palette (175 W. Jackson Ave., Naperville; 331.457.5400,

Want to perk up playtime? Give puzzle toys a try. “People are looking for ways to engage their pet, not just with physical exercise but also mental stimulation—especially when the weather gets cold or it’s a rainy day out,” Spitza says. Snuffle mats handmade locally by a Chi-Town Pitties volunteer ($25) are a big seller at Wet Nose. “It’s a very simple mat made out of fleece, and you hide treats and kibble in them, and your dog sniffs and tries to find them,” she says. “It enhances their foraging skills.” At Two Boston, Tietz recommends wooden puzzle toys with themes such as sudoku by My Intelligent Pet ($30) and interactive toys by Trixie ($30–$50) that encourage your dog to lift up tiles or pull out drawers to reveal treats inside.

When the weather warms, you and your energetic four-legged friend will be ready to run. The Forest Preserve of DuPage County offers fenced off-leash dog areas at several area preserves:

Butterfield Rd. just west of Winfield Rd. in Warrenville

East Branch
Glen Ellyn Rd. just south of Army Trail in Lombard

Greene Valley
Greene Rd. just south of 79th in Naperville

Hawk Hollow
Bittersweet Dr. just south of Stearns in Bartlett

3401 St. Paschal Dr., Oak Brook

Oldfield Oaks
87th St. just east of Lemont, Darien

Springbrook Prairie
83rd St. just west of Book, Naperville

Dog owners must have a valid off-leash area permit for each dog. For DuPage County residents, annual permits are $50 for the first dog and $10 each additional dog; daily permits are $10/dog. Purchase online at

The Forest Preserve District of Will County operates Whalon Lake Dog Park (1480 Royce Rd., Naperville), which has a 12-acre fenced area for off-leash dogs and separate area for small dogs. An annual permit ($40 for first dog and $20 for additional dogs for Will County residents) or daily pass ($5) is required; buy online at

Over-the-top dog clothing exploded in the early aughts in the wake of Elle Woods and her dressed-to-the-nines Chihuahua in Legally Blonde. But these days, the pendulum has swung back toward more practical options, says Spitza of Wet Nose. She recommends Wagwear’s WagWellies ($80) to protect paws: “If you’re going to Starved Rock or walking on gravel trails, these can help with heat and traction and protection.” For chilly days, Two Bostons’ Tietz recommends quilted puffer vests ($45+) and soft, cozy turtleneck sweaters by Canada Pooch ($43+). Gold Paw also makes stretchy fleece pullovers ($30+) in solids, plaids, and colorful geometrics. “Think of it as polar fleece for your dog,” Tietz says. “It’s going to be good for transition times, either into spring or into winter.”


Colorful prints are sure to turn heads at the dog park. Collars by Slik Hound ($25+) and Up Country ($23+) at Two Bostons come in whimsical patterns such as argyle, geometrics, or even sushi rolls. “They come out with new styles and colors all the time,” Tietz says. Spitza recommends multi-
functional products such as Leashes by Liz’s durable paracord leash ($19 at Wet Nose), which can be easily adjusted for length or looped around your waist for a hands-free option. For a truly designer look, Tiffany & Co. (299 Oakbrook Center, 630.574.7900, carries leather collars ($210+) and leashes ($320+) in that signature shade of robin’s-egg blue.


Meet other local dogs and their owners by stacking your social calendar with events around town. Here are three favorites:

Wag ’N Paddle offers weekly puppy play groups.

Naperville Humane Society hosts Yappy Hour fundraisers at local restaurants with patios throughout the summer.

Lombard mall Yorktown Center is dog friendly year-round and hosts weekly meet ups for dogs and their owners.


The newest treats on the market are crossing over into the nutritional supplements category with additional benefits. “It’s not like in the old days where you would just give the dog a milk bone and move on,” says Todd Tietz, manager of Two Bostons in downtown Naperville (103 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville; 630.357.7621, “It’s a huge trend in the industry to offer treats that are also going to clean the dog’s teeth, or are also a probiotic, or are going to help with the dog’s skin and fur, or immunity.” Ark Naturals Brushless Toothpaste Dental Chews ($8–$30) are a popular pick at Two Bostons, he says.

Another category that’s skyrocketing in popularity is cannabidiol (CBD) in the form of biscuits, soft chews, capsules, tinctures, oils, and balms. “CBD can be used for all sorts of things, from anxiety and epilepsy … to hip and joint [issues],” says Spitza of Wet Nose. “I don’t want to say it’s a cure-all because it’s certainly not, but it does have a very broad spectrum of uses.” Using high-quality products made specifically for pets is a must. “There are human CBD formulations out there with trace amounts of THC, and that can be toxic for pets,” she says. Try Stella & Chewy’s Stress & Anxiety Calming Supplemental Soft Chews ($40) made with hemp oil, chamomile, and lavender.

These three national and international hotel brands offer sweet perks for traveling with your dog:

Kimpton Hotels Pet beds, water bowls, concierge-provided list of pet-friendly amenities nearby.

Loews Hotels Gourmet pet room service menu, dog-walking route maps, and extras such as collars and leashes.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Welcome treat, water dish, info sheet on local activities. Some locations even have their own resident dog “ambassadors” who hang out onsite to greet guests.