MONTVILLE – Henry, a 2-year-old dog of undetermined mix, calmly stood in a stainless steel tub as Lisa Tims lathered his brow with a blueberry facial solution during his spa session at The Morris Animal Inn of Montville.
“He’s just here for the day,” Tims said, working the soapy solution into Henry’s face to reach his skin with the moisturizer. “He’s been here before. His brother is downstairs.”
Thirty-six years after opening its first location in Harding, the Morris family is expanding its successful brand of luxury boarding, grooming, daycare and training services. They expect to open a third location in Warren later in the year.
Think of it as a Four Seasons for your four-legged family members.
“We’re unique in that we are not a one-size-fits-all,” said Julia Morris, the third-generation operator of a business that traces to her grandfather, a celebrated dog trainer who handled the first miniature poodle to win. Best in Show in 1943 at the Westminster Kennel Club.
Dogs and cats are welcomed with an array of accommodations and services. Dogs have spacious indoor and outdoor spaces to run and play and a night-time “tuck-in” service that includes a pet specialist reading them a bedtime story.
Cats get individual playtime and toys including an interactive iPad mouse chaser, and are lodged in three-story “suites” – glass-fronted, closet-size enclosures equipped with faux-leather sofas and individual TVs.
Morris said their four-generation family business is expanding now because of “demand.” Bedtime stories and TVs may seem excessive to some people, but Morris said modern pet owners are a special breed who want their pets as comfortable there as they would be at home.
“Pet care has changed significantly over the years with the way people have brought pets into their homes,” she said. “They’re treating them like family members. There’s more of a need.”
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The Morris family has been connected to top-shelf dog care for nearly 80 years and traces its roots to her grandfather, who managed the show kennel for the wealthy Frelinghuysen family, which has produced four US Senators and two Congressmen representing New Jersey.
Sensing a growing need for pet care in the area, Julia’s father expanded her grandfather’s business, designing, building and opening the first Morris Animal Inn in 1986.
The future Warren location will see the redesign of an existing facility. The Montville location, which opened a few weeks ago, “was designed from the ground up for this,” Morris said.
“It was customized for pet care,” she said. “All the systems, the layout, are designed for your pet’s health safety and well-being. We invested a lot of time in the engineering of air quality, for example, which has become so important in the pet parent’s mind, especially after COVID . It’s equally important for the dogs to control airborne viruses. “
Morris said the company also invests a lot of time and money into staffing and training. The expansion has added job opportunities for pet care specialists like Jenna Puchalski of Parsippany, 20, who started a few months ago while taking time off from college.
Her job on Wednesday included giving treats and reading a bedtime story to Mister Myles, a playful 5-year-old mastiff mix.
“I could stay here forever,” Puchalski said. “I love my job. How can you not love hanging out with cute animals all day and caring for them?”
She also tends to the dogs playing in a fenced-in yard covered with artificial turf, toys and a stairwalk. An indoor “fungility” room includes a motorized treadmill, a fabric tunnel, adjustable hurdles and weave poles used for both exercise and training.
“It’s not for competition,” said marketing manager Deborah Montgomery. “It’s fun. It’s agility for fun. It’s cardio.”
One-on-one play sessions are also available, along with grooming packages including aa blueberry “pawsoak” and facial, moisturizing treatments, haircuts, brushing and nail trims.
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Want to pamper your cat? Add an a la carte service to their stay including teaser play sessions and an iPad cat-chase app that records your cat’s taps at the pad to create a “Kitty Kartoon” you can take home.
Specific training also is available, including a “training camp” with daily sessions, leisure activities and luxury accommodations.
With their success, the Morris Animal Inn has given back to the community. Morris County Sheriff James Gannon referred to the Morris family as “treasures” for supporting his department’s award-winning K-9 program, including a $ 5,000 donation to cover custom first-aid kits for participants at a recent statewide K-9 lifesaving seminar.
The family also has supported other community causes including St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center and the Make a Wish Foundation.
William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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