Dog Services in Coral Gables

The Ruff Life

It’s a late Monday afternoon and I’m ever so grateful to have high impact glass windows in my home. This thought recurs as my 63-pound white poodle-mix Elle presses her nose and paws against my driveway-facing window. She motions with her head that her ride is here. Behind the wheel of the van that just pulled in is her favorite rock star. It’s Ricky (not Martin but Ruque), a seemingly tough bald man with a full beard, who looks more like a successful tattoo artist thana dog groomer. With his signature goofy apron, he drops to his knees as they bring it in for a hug before both enter Wow Grooming Mobile.

Keeping Your Dog Happy
Ricky Ruque of Wow Grooming brings his self-sufficient van to your home

Ruque’s self-sufficient van has lots of groupies in the hood – older ladies like my neighbor Tinker who only allows his hands to touch her BFF Russell, a half yorkie/half dachshund mix, still rocking a natural mohawk. Fortunately for them, in addition to being an AKC S.A.F.E. Certified Groomer, Ruque also has his Geriatric Pet Grooming certificate. When asked his secret he says, “I go at their pace. The animals, they always show me.” 

Among other things, the convenience of a mobile groomer means no aggravating traffic for pick-ups or drop-offs. At the height of Covid closings this was also a safe option, so their affordable pricing was extra impressive. Like most in the Gables, pandemic or not, we prefer to keep our dogs well-groomed. Ruque reminds me of a small task that most owners overlook – a daily coat-brushing for healthier skin and hair. 

For those who prefer the in-store grooming experience say hello to our newest neighbors at Scenthound Coral Gables. Located under the Gables Ponce Apartments (at the Ponce extension by Le Jeune Road) this walkable option for those living nearby has been available for just four months. But clearly the demand is there; on a busy day they now service more than 40 dogs. 

“Not all dogs require haircuts, but all dogs need routine care and basic grooming,” says Mariano Espinosa, franchise partner of Scenthound Miami Coastline. “It’s our objective to educate as many dog parents as possible on the importance of this.” Nearly 400 “members” have signed up for services like a tracking app (keeps you informed for health and wellness checkups) and an in-store bath members can use. “They do such a good job getting all the burrs out of his fur (Frankie the Labradoodle),” one customer told me. 

While Ruque and Espinosa both left successful corporate careers to follow their fur-loving passions, for Jarbas Godoy, the owner of The Dog From Ipanema, canine care was always his first choice. The Brazilian dog groomer, who had a shop in his home country, opened his first Gables store in 1986 in the Shops at Merrick Park. After 22 years, he moved to 57th Avenue, across the street from the Gables in South Miami, where his clientele followed him. “What always attracted me to the field was just to make beautiful dogs,” Godoy says. The walls of Godoy’s shop are covered in photos of dogs he has groomed, or “babies” as he calls them. To ensure they are comfortable while they wait to be washed, they rest in a dark room with a TV on that streams videos of cats. At the end of each day, every cage is disinfected, and Godoy sprays the newly-groomed babies with Jimmy Choo, Calvin Klein, Dior, Burberry or Givenchy perfumes. 

Veterinarian Dr. Phil Cruz of Red Bird Animal Hospital

All three of these groomers say that Coral Gables dog owners are a special breed, truly caring for their dogs. Veterinarian Dr. Phil Cruz of Red Bird Animal Hospital could not agree more. Leaving his architecture and aerospace engineering studies, he fell in love with the mechanics of how the body works. While he aspired to help zebras and all things wild, he settled instead 16 years ago at his location here to help our domesticated pet community. Dr. Cruz describes his work best as, “a CSI game, because the animals can’t talk. So, you are presented with a mystery. I like a challenge, and when you get an animal well again you just get so… attached.” I asked where they ordered their wooden wall-sized waiting room sign. Ordered? Turns out it was meticulously carved by Dr. Cruz himself. Nothing like being hands on.

The Long Term 

Loving care throughout the entirety of a pet’s life is crucial, especially during the late, more delicate years. I was blessed to have spent most of my adult life with my favorite sidekick, little Benny the terrier. End of life decisions were never a part of the plan (Curse you, Dog Years!) but I would need the help of a tender professional to guide me through quality-of-life assessments and his end-of-life options. My angel was Dr. Ivana Ayala of Bella Veterinary Services.

Knowing our animals deserve as much integrity in death as we provide them in life, her specialty is at-home euthanasia. A full-service visit with her vet van covers it all so that your only concern during this difficult time is your dog. The comfort of being inside your own home with all things familiar to Benny was by far the best option for us. Another benefit I soon found is not having to get behind the wheel of a car while buckets of tears block your view. 

Venetian Pool’s 14th Annual Paws in the Pool.

Elle and I miss Benny but find comfort in all the support services available in the area. Elle, a rescue poodle-mix, had gone quickly from being a sick neonate to a spoiled “when will she stop growing” dog. Professional training was soon in order for me. The rescue suggested I turn to Applause Your Paws, Inc. (AYP), the largest reward-based dog training company in Miami. Out of their many training options we settled on a few group classes followed by several weeks of in-home training. Even at more than half my own body weight, I can now easily walk this strong puff ball of enthusiasm on a leash with only a few slipups of her manners (Squirrel!). 

If you don’t want – or don’t have time – to walk your beast, you can use Equipaws Pet Services for their popular mid-day dog walk. Their team loves walking and running our dogs along the City Beautiful’s tree-lined streets, where there’s shade 365 days a year for sensitive paws. Sisters Flavia and Frankie Berti founded the company in 2011. Not surprising, since my childhood memories from our sleepovers always included their dog Eeko (small world!). Growing up they were the only kids I knew who actually cared for their dog, even through his senior years (RIP Eeko). It’s no wonder they now include a specialized Pet Home Health Care Division, headed by veterinary technician Lory Nelson-Brunner. Pet parents receive help giving medications to their furballs (from topicals to pills to insulin injections and more) and the team even takes them for vet visits during work hours. Equipaws provides care for aging or convalescing pets as well, as directed by their veterinarian. 

Sisters Flavia and Frankie Berti are the founders of Equipaws Pet Services

We also have Miami Pet Concierge, which opened its doors four years earlier (in 2007) as a labor of love. Founder Nicole Packin had worked in shelter environments and noticed many pets being surrendered due to owners claiming a lack of time. This led to Miami Pet Concierge’s mission to keep pets happy at home. She focused on basic support services to help achieve just that, including dog walks, basic care, and guidance/education for pet parents. 

Boarding is another concern for travelers. On-site boarding is available at the AYP location where simultaneous training classes can be provided; there is also the Dog Dude Ranch of Miami out in Kendall Lakes, if you want your dog to feel like they are on vacation, too. Closer to home, Equipaws can arrange overnight stays and both they and Miami Pet Concierge offer in-home pet sitting where they can provide three visits per day in your home. Many residents also rely on apps like Nextdoor to see if any neighbors can assist them with pet care while they are away. 

Of course, no canine life is complete without toys, beds, and other accessories. For these you can turn to Nandog Pet Gear which opened on Miracle Mile earlier this year. Focused on style and durability, Nandog has created a specialty line of supplies and knickknacks that cater to the trendy and price-conscious dog owner. While orders can be placed online, your pup may prefer the in-person experience. And walking along The Mile afterwards, your dog can cool off with their selection of popsicles. Current flavors include carrot, peanut butter, strawberry, peanut butter banana, strawberry carrot, strawberry banana, and watermelon banana. 

Keeping Your Dog Happy
Nandog Pet Gear on Miracle Mile, for the trendy and price conscious dog owner

As tempting as that sounds, you may want to reserve the treats for when you visit one of 80-plus restaurants in Coral Gables that offer outdoor seating, which means Fido can come – along with his or her 300 million olfactory receptors. If it’s an actual dog menu you want, then SAWA is the place for you. The restaurant in the courtyard of the Shops at Merrick Park offers canine selections such as jerky strips and filet mignon kebab. And in this city you can even invite visitors to stay with their pampered pooches at one of our pet-friendly hotels, such as the Colonnade or the Biltmore. As long as there is no shortage of dog lovers in the Gables, there will be no shortage of services ensuring that your dog never has to live a rough life.