Going to the Dogs — and Cats!
Mis Amigos Pet Care Center provides a home away from home for furry best friends. Plus: Replacing Golden Corral at last, Tour of the Gila's wheels get greased, Single Socks to aid the hungry, Savers coming, White Elephant moving and more.
Gail Skee holds "Chiquita," a slightly chubby black Chihuahua, near the bars of a large kennel wherein crouches a sleek, dark, rather sizable cat. Skee looks into the dog's face with an animated, happy expression, cocks her head quizzically and asks the canine, "See your kitty?" The dog gives an excited snort.
Skee then croons to the feline in a soothing, sing-song fashion, "I have your doggie. Do you see your friend?" she asks the cat.
The cat immediately loses its wary body language and strides to the front of the enclosure, then rubs the sides of its face on the bars. Skee sticks a finger through the bars of the "cat condo." The cat sniffs the finger, then offers the top of its head to rub.
"We couldn't have done this," Skee says of petting the feline, "before we discovered the magical connection between these two. It was a happy accident."
Skee is the founder, owner and operator of Mis Amigos Pet Care Center in Arenas Valley, a business that just celebrated its fourth anniversary last month. The center offers a wide range of Gail Skee, owner of Mis Amigos, with one of her canine pals. (Photo by Donna Clayton)pet services — doggie daycare, pet boarding, grooming.
The center also is a purveyor of treats, toys and pet necessities. Whether you need a solution to a training problem, some snappy canine attire, or something sturdy but chewable, Mis Amigos stocks it. Premier Pet Products, Timberwolf, Kong, Animal Planet, West Paws, Animal Wrappers, Wubba and Mes Amis are just a few of the brands on display in the retail room.
For Skee, it's all about the animals. She personally has five dogs, four horses and two cats at home. She opened Mis Amigos not only because she loves being around animals all day, but to provide pet owners with special options for their animal companions.
Coming into Silver City for some shopping? Don't leave Fido at home to tear up the house or yard. Instead, pack up your four-footed friend and drop him off at the center's Doggie Daycare.
"We have a number of folks from the Mimbres who do that," Skee says.
Going on a vacation? Mis Amigos offers an experience above and beyond the usual "kennel" option, Skee says, with large, spacious runs for dogs, socializing opportunities through playtime in the toy-equipped yard, and kitty condos with a "bird-watching window" and a huge aquarium of fish to gaze upon.
The motto at Mis Amigos is that they treat your pet like they would their own. The center's standard boarding fees include two daily sessions of outdoor romping for dogs, in a 30,000-square-foot exercise yard, surrounded by a double security fence, sand boxes for digging, shade structures and — most important — someone to play with. Does your Fido seem to have more energy than most? You can purchase additional playtime, and "extras" like individual playtime with a stuffed Kong toy or Frisbee, a vigorous play session with a toy from home, vigorous one-on-one cuddles and Nature Walks. Clients whose dogs like the company of other dogs may purchase time in the daycare yard. A resident caretaker lives on the property to ensure all animals' safety.
"Our staff are chosen for their love of animals," Skee says. "It can be stressful for animals to be without their owners, so to have someone visit them and play with them while they're here is really helpful to the animals." Then she adds with a bright smile, "And it's fun for us, too!"
She hands off the chubby Chihuahua to a staff member — there are five employees, in addition to Skee — and continues on to the doggie boarding area.
There are two styles of accommodations for dogs here: traditional boarding and luxury suites. Both provide a comfort-controlled environment. Skee walks down the long hallway between the standard runs, calling out a dog's name here and there, tossing a rawhide treat to one huge canine barking in his enclosure. Dogs can move at will from their enclosures, through their very own doggie doors, to the outside where they are at leisure to lie in the sun or shade.
Standard runs are furnished with Kuranda beds, simple vinyl hammock-like structures that Skee notes are comfortable and easily cleaned. Owners are welcome to bring a clean blanket from home so their pet has something familiar during its stay.
Fido used to sleeping on the bed at home? Luxury suites have cute themes and are furnished with human-type beds. Choose the brightly colored "Bee Happy" room or the cozy, sophisticated "Elegant" room. The "Jungle" room has earth-toned decor, complete with a fern and wood motif. The playful "Cowdog" room is casual and fun, with a plaid rug, denim upholstered bed and Wild West decorative border. Luxury suites come with satellite TV, special bedding, and extra space and attention from staff.
Mis Amigos also provides additional services, including training classes and grooming. It sells high-quality pet foods, plus unique gifts and equipment.
There are special events periodically, including rattlesnake aversion training and microchip implant opportunities. If your dog is an athlete, it may enjoy the agility yard.
Mis Amigos wants human-pet relationships to start out right, Skee says, and so offers periodic Puppy Classes. The seven-week sessions run $75, arranged according to need and interest. The center also gives free housetraining counseling over the phone or in person.
Private lessons are available — state your goals and work with Skee, a certified "force-free" trainer through the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior — for $30 a session.
Mis Amigos is a member of the Pet Care Service Association, and each staff member is expected to pass PCSA's Certified Pet Care Technician program.
Back in her office, showing off her variety of framed photos of her own dogs, Skee reflects on the joy animals bring to our lives. She's excited about a new program Mis Amigos will hold this summer — a summer camp for kids with their dogs.
"It's an experiment, the first time we're doing this, but I think it's going to be fun," she says. "There'll be games they can play with their dogs, teaching them tricks, that sort of thing. The kids have to have basic control of their animal and have to know some basic obedience, but basically, it'll be five days of intense dog-kid time."
She smiles broadly, then adds, "I can't wait!"
Mis Amigos Pet Care Center, 11745 Hwy. 180 E., Silver City. Open 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. 388-4101, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.misamigospetcare.com
Big Wine Round-up
So that's what's going in where the Golden Corral on Hwy. 180 used to be! Silver City Beverage Company, a new liquor and food outlet, is set to open around Easter weekend, according to workmen installing the new wood floors. The company will offer a broad range of fine wines — a mix of premium and bargains — a hot and cold foods bar and other to-go delectables.
New Turn of Events
Silver City's annual Tour of the Gila cycling event, financially threatened
in recent months, has announced SRAM Corp. as its new title sponsor.
SRAM is a 21-year-old Chicago-based bicycle component manufacturer with facilities
worldwide. Regarded as one of the tougher stage races in North America, the
Tour annually attracts up to 550 participants from all over North America and
the world. This year's race event runs April 29-May 3. For more information,
contact Lanny Olson, Tour of the Gila sponsorship director, 590-1076. www.tourofthegila.com, www.sram.com
New in Town
Francisco Limon has opened EZY Pawn in Suite 2 of the big building on Hwy. 180 that used to house Caballero's restaurant. Robert Parra still is operating his Robert's Real Estate at the site, and confirms that he and Limon are still setting up systems for the pawn business — like gold scales and diamond authenticators — and looking for more goods to sell. An interesting hodge-podge of items already is collecting on the selling-room floor: a motorcycle, a water heater, home furnishings, gadgets and doodads. Parra says he hopes the business will be up and running this month. 538-4335.
Kathleen Wigley and Jeff Goin have teamed to open Single Socks, a non-profit thrift store at 111 W. College St. in Silver City. The building, which used to house L&M Flooring, was owned for a while by Rocky Mondello, owner of Morning Star, who at one time planned to open a restaurant in the space. Single Socks has a volunteer board of directors, and proceeds will go to funding anti-hunger projects in Grant County. "We are looking to be a community-owned, community-run entity," says Goin. The group is looking for donated goods from the local community, which can be dropped off at The Hub Plaza on Bullard Street, Saturdays between 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The business plans a grand opening for its storefront operation on College Street April 25. People looking for more information or who want to play a role in supporting the organization can call 388-2488.