| Marzia De Giuli |
MILAN, Italy (Xinhua) – Dogs appear to be lucky in Italy’s fashion capital Milan, where many services have been created in recent times to make their lives and the lives of their owners happier.
“My dog? He is my best friend,” said Alfredo Lasso, while walking his dog in a park of Milan. The dog, Bruno, a big male bull terrier, was wearing a brown coat hemmed with white fur.
“Pets need care and protection. After all, they totally rest with their owners,” Lasso told Xinhua. His beloved friend cost him around 150 euros (174 US dollars) every month. “He must eat a special diet and see a vet periodically,” he added.
Alessandro Carenza is a pet dog instructor and was the first to launch a network of “dog-sitter” services in Milan for people’s pets while they are away, either for the day or for longer periods of time, which even include a “canine kindergarten” managed by professional staff.
“In effect dogs are considered family members to the extent that sometimes are even seen as replacement children,” Carenza noted. There are as many as 97,218 registered dogs and a total of up to 200,000 estimated dogs living in Milan, according to the public health administration office ASL.
The large presence of the beloved pets in the fashion capital has transformed dog care into a professional job. “I started seven years ago, and since then websites for dog care services have surged in the web and on social networks,” Carenza told Xinhua.
“Our team counts 20 people who exclusively do this job. Some of them gave up their previous careers to be dedicated to what is seen as a new business opportunity. Others have attended pet dog instructor courses and have become very specialised,” he said.
Basic dog-walking services cost around eight-10 euros (9.3-11.6 US dollars) per hour, but can be twice as much if special activities are requested, from individual walks to play time, feeding and medicating.
“I happened to talk with a girl some days ago who asked for a walking service for her dog. She said she was willing to pay all necessary expenses just to make her little friend happy, even though it meant skipping outdoor dinners,” Carenza recalled.
Some dog lovers are particularly passionate and special initiatives have been launched for their best friends, like Prince and Princess, the first “health spa” for dogs in Milan.
Hydro massage and treatments at the 80-square-metre health spa are personalised and offer a variety of options for all needs. “Ozone therapy stimulates microcirculation and is effective in treating fungal infections,” Valeria Villa, a “dog stylist” at Prince and Princess with 20 years of experience, told Xinhua.
Argan oil, clay and lotions – which Villa underlined are water- soluble and dermo-compatible – are other precious elements for the health and beauty of dogs who, contrary to what one might think, “enjoy very much this relax experience,” she ensured.
Owners can also relax themselves while their pets are in good hands. “They have coffee, eat cakes and chat in a separate room,” she said.
The health spa counts up to 40 clients a week during busiest periods of the year. “We ask nine euros (10.4 US dollars) for the simplest treatment, but there are many dog owners willing to spend a lot more,” Villa noted.
“Yes, our dogs have decisively become too spoiled. But on the other hand, they give so much love to us,” an elderly lady, Laura Solzi, told Xinhua while watching her English setter playing in a dog yard with other dogs.
“Tobia likes sleeping on the sofa. He is only eight months old and I am worried about when I will be away next summer and will have to leave him alone for a while,” she said.
“That is why I am surfing the Internet in these days out for good services to give custody of my Tobia. Fortunately Milan is well equipped, it is city that indeed loves its dogs,” she stressed.