Pets Play Part in Big Day With Help By Lucky’s Bed and Biscuit
While all eyes are on the bride and groom during their wedding, many couples make sure their pets also play a special part in the big moment. Whether their favorite fluffy cat is carrying the rings down the isle or their beloved rescue dog is posing for pictures with the bridal party, it’s important for many couples to include their furry friends in the plans.
Of course, looking after their pets can be hard to manage when the couple is busy getting ready and enjoying their special day.
That’s where Lucky’s Bed and Biscuit comes in. The five-acre, 1,600-square-foot oasis is basically a deluxe pet hotel that offers special wedding services, including pet grooming and transportation to and from the hotel and wedding destination on its Bark and Ride shuttle service.
“A lot of brides and grooms want us to bring their dogs to the wedding for pictures, for the ceremony or before and after,” said Leslie Lorah, who opened Lucky’s with her husband, Reggie, in 2008. “We do that a lot, actually. A lot of couples will have their pets groomed the morning of, at our day s’paw before they go to the wedding.”
A gown or tuxedo and bowtie after a fresh cut can also be provided for those who want their pets looking their best. Staff will accompany the pet to the wedding or for pictures, and can come back in a few hours or wait on the premise.
Though Lorah “can’t believe” she didn’t include her pets in her own wedding (she had seven dogs at the time), she said she didn’t have anyone like her to help with the logistics. But she and her husband didn’t plan on getting into the wedding business when they opened Lucky’s. Nonetheless, she said, they have at least one pet a week from May through October that they’re shuttling back and forth from a wedding.
“Everyone’s pets are part of their family,” said Lorah, who noted that much of their wedding business comes from nearby Mallard and Bonnet islands. “There are so many people wanting to include their pet in even the engagement, and the wedding. Even when they have their first child, their pets are always a part of it – which I completely understand and agree with. It seems only fair for them to be a part of it.”
Lorah even named the facility after Lucky, an 11-year-old fox terrier that she adopted from the Humane Society a decade ago.
“Oh, my God. I’m so in love with this dog,” she said, noting that he’s also a therapy dog for her son Ryder, 6, who has special needs. “He is the most amazing dog. He is just the sweetest. He literally is my first-born child. I’ve had several dogs in my life, but this is like my soul mate in dogs. We’re connected at the hip.”
Lorah said she always knew that she’d run a pet boarding facility, which is evident in a note she wrote as a little girl to her grandmother that she recently found again.
“It said that I was going to own a doggy chateau, which I can’t believe I even knew how to spell,” said Lorah. “I said that I was going to have a grocery store for pets. It’s pretty cute. And the money she gave me I was going to save to open it up – which I totally didn’t even remember that I did this.”
Lorah initially became a veterinarian technician. Although she loved it, she said she didn’t like the sad parts about the job, such as putting dogs to sleep or taking care of pets that were sick. After moving out to California and working at a boarding facility, Lorah said she knew that’s where she belonged.
“All the dogs had homes, and all the dogs were there just to get spoiled,” she said. “I knew all the dogs’ personalities, and I got to take care of them. And then they would leave, and they just became a part of me. I loved that part about it. So when I had the opportunity to open Lucky’s at the time, I wanted to be on the positive side of it.”
Before opening Lucky’s, Lorah and her husband, who were just dating at the time, would take separate vacations because they didn’t want to leave their dogs alone at a kennel with a “concrete, chain link slab” when they’re used to sleeping on down pillows in bed.
“I just couldn’t do it, especially since they’re rescued,” said Lorah. “I wouldn’t want them to think they’ve been abandoned. So when we opened up Lucky’s, we made it a place where we’d want to leave our own pets. We want everyone to be comfortable, but primarily everyone has to be safe and secure and well cared for.
“We consider ourselves a five-star pet hotel,” she added. “The other accommodations are more like kennels, so we’re just nothing alike.”
Those who book a VIP suite for their pet at Lucky’s will also get web-cam access so they can watch their beloved animal as they get ready for the big day.
Although the VIP suite is a bit bigger and includes “plush bedding” and a minimum of eight dog walks – compared to the standard suites that have Sherpa bedding and come with a minimum of five walks – Lorah said each stay is all-inclusive, and all of Lucky’s guests are treated equally. All suites include a kuranda cot bed, which supports the body, and pets are checked every half hour throughout the night. The open-top rooms have tempered-glass fronts. The walls are made of a dense, commercial-grade plastic, “just like a cutting board,” along with stainless steel frames that don’t hold any bacteria or germs. The cat suites even include fish tanks for entertainment.
“They don’t know that it’s any different,” she said. “No matter what suite is chosen, they still get the same amount of love.”
While dogs and cats are the facility’s main guests, it does accept all pets, including exotics such as birds and reptiles, and even pigs. The facility offers discounts for large groups of wedding guests, and pets from the same household that can eat together with no problems may share a room. With 80 dog suites, as well as 25 cat suites and an exotic pet room, Lucky’s has lodged 120 dogs at a time. Five Maltese once shared a room together.
“It just depends on the animals and what we feel comfortable with keeping them safe,” said Lorah. “It’s more like home. But one thing we really strive toward is the health and well-being of all of our guests.”
Everything is recorded, including what the pet eats and even eliminates. Report cards are given to the owners at checkout. A number of brides and grooms also like getting email well checks that include a picture and a daily report of what their pet has done throughout the day, Lorah said.
Because there is staff on the premise 24 hours a day, the guests have a full day of activities, keeping them “pretty busy” between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.
“That’s what sets us apart,” said Lorah. “Because we have a large staff, our ratio for dogs to staff is high. So we’re able to really give one-on-one attention to all our guests.”
Playtime twice a day is an essential part of the stay. The play areas have K9 grass, so there are no unwelcome guests such as fleas or ticks on the property.
“Everything can be completely sanitized and cleaned every day, which we do,” said Lorah. “So everyone stays clean while they’re staying with us as well.”
Every pet gets a health exam. Staff makes sure the pets don’t have cuts or anything that may require immediate veterinary care.
“A lot of times we have taken pets to the vet just because an ear infection might pop up or something happens. And we’re completely equipped to take care of that while their owners are away,” said Lorah. “The parents love that – that we’re on top of it all.”
If everything checks out, the pups are allotted time at the indoor heated, saltwater swimming pool as long as they play well together. Although they’re sometimes broken off into groups of puppies and seniors, they’re typically grouped together based on temperament, not necessarily by size. The “big kids” that like to play rough go out in the morning, and the “little kids” that are more docile go in the afternoon.
“We do have great Danes that go into the little kid group because they pretty much just lay down and watch and observe everybody,” Lorah said. “Even though they’re bigger, they don’t play rough.”
About 80 percent of the dogs choose not to swim. Those that do “thoroughly enjoy it” and keep the whole group active, said Lorah. Swimming lessons are also offered, though she said it’s really the dog’s choice. Life jackets are available for those that want to go in the pool but are unable to swim.
Room service is also available for pets to enjoy an extra special treat while they’re away from home, whether it’s the Yummy Tummy Delight, which includes chicken and rice; a daily special, frozen yogurt; or bakery items from the boutique, which also sells toys and other treats made in America. Some couples have ordered custom cookies to be given out as wedding favors.
Gift cards can be purchased as a bridal gift to help pay for the pet’s stay while the bride and groom go away on their honeymoon.
“We have a lot of people do that, too, which is cute,” said Lorah. “I think it’s a great idea.”
As soon as the bride and groom know that they’re getting married, Lorah suggests including Lucky’s in the wedding plans to make sure rooms can be reserved.
“We have (had) several people call us a week before (their wedding) that want to add it on – and we’re already booked,” said Lorah. “It’s hard for us to accommodate them, and we hate saying no on their special day.”
Anyone interested in taking a tour of the facility is invited to do so between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
For more information, visit luckysbb.com or call 609-597-9009.
— Kelley Anne Essinger