If you're a dog lover, and crystals and sound baths are right up your alley, then you've got to visit one of the most unique experiences in Los Angeles: The Den Urban Dog Retreat.
Located just over the LA River in Cypress Park, the Den Urban Dog Retreat offers a variety of specialized wellness services including reiki, traditional massage, and intuitive healing, all centered around integrating wellness practices to benefit our four-legged friends. Sound a little too woo-woo for you? They also offer more traditional services, like grooming, doggy daycare, and pack hikes.
As someone who experiences equally as much separation anxiety as my dog, I'm incredibly careful when it comes to choosing a groomer. My dog, Mousse, is a ball of nerves; it doesn't help that as a Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix he's genetically prone to separation anxiety. Past trips to the groomers have been emotionally draining on both of us. Handing him to a stranger and walking his little empty harness and leash back to my car has always felt like a betrayal.
And to complicate manners, as a "Pom-Chi," he's prone to matting and growing a shaggy mop of hair incredibly fast. If left too long, he begins to resemble a muppet with overgrown paws straight out of a Dr. Suess book. While adorable, I can't imagine it's too comfortable (or healthy) for him. And no matter how consistent I am with brushing, over time his hair always manages to form little knots throughout.
Los Angeles, a notoriously dog-obsessed city, is jam-packed with dog groomers to choose from. And with little regulation and no certification required to become a dog groomer, it makes it particularly important to vet (no pun intended) your groomer before entrusting them with your pet. A good rule of thumb is to pay close attention to how your dog behaves arriving at the groomers and afterwards; does your dog need to be dragged into the groomers, or act overly anxious when they realize where they are? Is your dog withdrawn or acting out of character afterwards? These could be signs that the groomer is not a good fit.
I discovered Den Urban Dog Retreat on Instagram (yes, Mousse has his own Instagram - we live in LA, after all). I was immediately drawn to the wellness and mind/body connection at the heart of their business model. As a self-admitted lover of all things woo-woo, I couldn't dream of a more relevant concept for someone like me. And more importantly, I couldn't imagine a better environment for Mousse and his particular set of needs.
As you walk through the door into the Den Urban Dog Retreat, you are greeted by a little dog statue in a seated prayer position. A large dog mural takes up the wall behind it. Potted plants dot the grounds, giving the space a real spa feel. Round the corner and you enter their shop, which is full of treats, accessories, and crystals for purchase.
Their doggy spa, adjacent to the shop and daycare center, is unlike any groomers you've seen. Dogs are washed in a large vintage-style tub with hip graphic tile backsplash. The cage free spa is semi-private, meaning your pup will be treated with more attention. Most importantly, there's no bad vibes here; the large amethyst crystal geode that sits in the corner makes sure to remove those.
Picking up Mousse from the spa, I notice he isn't shaking, or hiding his face in my neck as he usually would. He seems rejuvenated, dare I say... relaxed?? His paws have been successfully de-Suess-ified, and his fur is soft and tangle-free. Accessorized in his new plaid bandana he's looking (and feeling) fresh.
And while I think my Moussie-bear looks beautiful both before and after his spa day, if he requires a grooming session I'd rather take him somewhere that doesn't exacerbate or, better yet, reduces his anxiety. Oh, and his next appointment? A 45 minute massage for his birthday.