Sit! Stay! Top Pads For Pets

Apartment buildings go all out to lure animals and their two-legged owners

May 10, 2013

Tim Jezisek, far right, and his Australian Labradoodle, Sundance, socialize with other renters and pets at pet salon in the Archstone First and M Apartments.

Like a lot of Washingtonians, Lucy and Ethel anxiously await the chance to mingle with friends at their daily 7 p.m. happy hour.

The only difference is that their happy hour takes place in an apartment building’s doggie lounge with their fellow furry friends.

“Our dogs love to go down there,” says Patricia Carlson, 66, of her 2-year-old twin Shih Tzus. “It’s like they’re wearing doggie watches” whenever it nears the hour when seven or eight pets and their owners meet up at Archstone Wisconsin Place (4440 Willard Ave., Chevy Chase, Md.; 866-915-6998).

Carlson and her husband, Richard, 72, a former U.S. ambassador, moved into the building in 2009. The Carlsons, the parents of Fox News correspondent Tucker Carlson, joined other dog-loving residents to lobby for a space for their pets to socialize.

And thus the doggie lounge was opened last year — with a washing station and hair dryer provided by the management, and leather furniture, a lamp and a rug from the Carlsons. Today, the building has about 60 dogs.

Richard Carlson says the “doggie” hour “has honed their social skills a great deal.” Last year, Lucy befriended a male poodle named Senator. The owners held a wedding for the canine couple, complete with a wedding dress for Lucy. Ethel, always the bridesmaid, wore pink.

New apartment buildings such as Wisconsin Place are leading the pack when it comes to pet-friendly amenities.

“I can’t think of an example where a new building is not pet friendly,” says Debbie Kaplan, the chief operating officer of the apartment-finding service Urban Igloo.

“Older rent-controlled buildings in D.C. typically don’t take pets, so as the newer inventory comes on, pets are part of it,” she says. “It’s not just an afterthought; they’re integrated into the community.”

Archstone First and M Apartments (1160 First St. NE; 877-242-9963), which opened last June and is owned by AvalonBay, features D’Tails Salon, a pet spa with two washing stations — one for larger dogs and one for smaller dogs — plus hair dryers. Aprons and towels are provided for renters. Residents can also invite professional pet groomers to the salon.

D’Tails also has its own outside entrance for pet owners, which comes in handy on rainy days with muddy paws. Currently, a third of the building is dedicated to pet owners, and they have about 40 dogs living in this special section.

Tim Jezisek, 40, moved into First and M last July with Sundance, his 6-year-old Australian Labradoodle. He says a lot of buildings’ pet amenities were inspired by problems pet owners were having — bathroom drains getting clogged with pet hair, for example. “That was the genesis of the pet salon,” he says.

“Beyond just allowing pets, a lot of smart companies are trying to really understand what the needs and experiences of a pet-owning tenant are,” says Jezisek, who works in real estate development, “and then design the building and tailor services to help them meet those needs.”

And their needs go beyond just pet salons. To draw more dog owners to its community of 300 pet owners, RiverHouse Apartments (1400 South Joyce St., Arlington; 888-217-8530) is building a 1.1-mile walking trail this year in addition to a pet spa. It already has a 5,400-square-foot dog park, with separate sections for large and small dogs. Dogs are even welcome in the property’s pool on the day before it closes for the season.

Flats 130 at Constitution Square (130 M St. NE; 866-300-2916), which opened in 2010, has a dog park that includes a drainage system underneath artificial turf. And, of course, a token (fake) fire hydrant.

Senate Square Towers (201 I St. NE; 866-963-3056) has a 5,000-square-foot rooftop dog park with gravel, an agility course with hoops to jump through, two decorative fire hydrants and water faucets for owners and dogs. The dog park opened in 2011, three years after the building did, to cater to the property’s 85 dogs.

Property manager Mark Hannan says the number of dog-owning residents has grown 25 percent since the park opened.

It certainly appeals to Brian Jacobson, 42, a Web designer, who moved there in January with his husband, twin Devonshire cats and two dogs — Audrey, a 3-year-old Lhasa Apso, and Edgar, a 2-year-old Catahoula Leopard mix.

“The convenience factor is huge,” says Jacobson, who lives three floors below the dog park. “They can run free and I don’t have to worry about them.”

Jacobson says he’s come to see D.C. in a new light thanks to his rooftop dog park.

“I’m an early riser and take the dogs out at dawn,” he says. “The views of the Capitol and Washington Monument in the morning are so amazing. I don’t think any other building would have such a great view from their dog run, even if they had one.”

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