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Just an everyday trip to the vet in Dubai

This morning’s activity was a trip to the vet with my beloved Bella for her annual vaccinations and check-up.

Nothing unusual in that (bear with me!). For people in other parts of Dubai, the vet we use – Nad al-Shiba Veterinary Hospital – might be considered too far to drive, but it’s a pleasant trip through some green areas with little traffic. You get the sense as you meander along a dusty road past scrubby desert that at any moment you’ll meet a herd of camels, chewing on the prickly vegetation with their large, leathery mouths. (Arabian camels aren’t known for having kissable lips.)

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Waiting for his owner

I promise you it’s worth the journey. Once you get there, the staff are so friendly, and you’ll often find falcons waiting in reception. If you’re really lucky, you’ll see an Emirati dressed in a traditional white kandora and artfully-wrapped headgear with his falcon perched proudly on his arm.

The falcon is the UAE’s national bird. Images of them are everywhere, on walls, in TV ads, on bank notes. The UAE even issues passports for falcons. Gulf airlines such as Qatar Airways, Etihad and Emirates allow the bird of prey – of which hawks are close relations – in the passenger cabin.

I digress. In the treatment room, our lovely vet examined Bella the dog and began speaking Greek to her to calm her down. “Είναι εντάξει,” he said, then turned to us. “Excuse me talking Greek, but it’s the tone that soothes her.” Bella quietened nicely.

“So what other animals do you treat,” DH asked a few minutes later as Bella bounded off the table after her jabs. I had a feeling he wasn’t going to say just cats and dogs – the vet’s location is close to an area populated with locals, among whom keeping exotic pets is a status symbol.

“All sorts,” said the vet with a smile. “A cheetah. Lions … tigers.”

Never a dull day for Dubai vets!

There’s always the chance you’ll get up close and personal yourself. “Last time we went there was a cheetah cub in reception – and I got to cuddle her,” said a pet-owner in a comment on Geordie Armani’s blog.

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Can’t resist a puppy photo – she just turned one!
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Doggy daycare

Son 1 attended a 007, spy-themed party at the Ranches this weekend and as I drove through the rabbit warren of streets lined with beautiful identikit villas to collect him, it occurred to me that I might not know any of the other parents.

He’s on a school bus, so I have much less contact with his school than my other son’s (higher-maintenance) school, which I visit every day for the drop-off. Plus, the way they do a shake, rattle and roll each year with the six classes in each grade means both the pupils and parents get a fresh start each September.

Anyway, the party was still going on, so the parents huddled in the kitchen while a pair of energetic teenagers led the games outside. I struck up a conversation with another British mum, as the kids hurled water bombs at each other, and we exchanged details about our child’s name, class, etc.

(The drawback with mixing up the classes is I spend ages wracking my not-so-well-oiled brain, trying to work out if the mum I’m talking to is the same person I sat giggling with in a coffee shop three years ago, is the class mum – who deserves deep respect, in my opinion, and I probably owe money to – or is indeed a newcomer.)

The British lady and I didn’t talk about our children for long, because the conversation quickly moved on to her dogs. Specifically, the doggy daycare they were being treated to that day. Yes, treated to.

“Do you want to see some photos of my dogs?” she asked, rhetorically, then reached for her phone, pulled up Facebook and clicked on a post from the doggy daycare.

“There they are,” she said proudly. “Awww, look what they’re doing!

"The masseuse is here, Sir"
“The masseuse is here, Sir”

I peered at her phone. Her dogs, indeed very cute (and known as Little and Large, due to one being big and the other handbag-sized), were pictured frolicking around a sizeable grassy, landscaped yard, with tunnels and other playthings laid out for them.

“That’s their swimming pool,” she said, enlarging a photo of a sparkling blue pool, big enough to hold at least 10 children.

“Swimming pool?” I responded, my eyes widening, “For the dogs?

“Yes, and that’s where they rest. It’s great – they go every Saturday.” [“Means we can actually do something on Saturdays,” her husband interjected.] “In fact, we must dash – it’s doggy pick-up time at 6.”

She showed me one last photo of her cat [“Do they do cat daycare, too?” I ventured, my mind still processing this whole concept and spinning with possibilities for our moggy.] Then they called their daughter over to leave.

I’m not really a dog person, but later that evening, I found myself Googling it, intrigued by the idea of a pet daycare with a pool, that structures the day to include a dog-nap, has a webcam trained on the playarea, and posts updates on Facebook to allow ‘parents’ to see what their pampered pets are up to.

Turns out, that’s not the half of it. Dogs can board there, and even the standard suites are furnished with a sofa bed and plasma TV; the Urban Suite has a webcam inside; and the Junior Royal Suite offers extras such as a sheepskin rug, bonus cuddles, caviar in the feeding bowls and champagne through a hose (ok, I made the last two up!).

There’s a pet Limo service, a personal butler and a fully-equipped indoor gym with ‘Fit Fur Life’ doggy treadmills – where, I’m guessing, the doggy bootcamp for overweight pooches takes place.

You won’t be surprised to learn that classical music is piped into the communal areas and that eye-soothing views of an indoor oasis with fabulous fountains are advertised.

Seriously, I’ve been in Dubai for five years now and I thought I’d seen it all. But a 7-star pet resort for animals who need a luxury break from their day-to-day routine. That takes the biscuit, surely!

(And, yes, there is a cattery – I checked!)

Find out more about Urban Tails (in the Green Community) at www.urbantailsdubai.com