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Lavish Dog Spas Across America

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After I left for college, my parents and younger sister filled the void with a Jack Russell Terrier. If you're at all familiar with Jack Russell Terriers, you know that they're high-energy, high-maintenance and highly intelligent (though not all are as well read as Wishbone). On days Sinatra doesn't get to the dog park, she finds more destructive ways to exercise "“ namely, chewing drywall. Leaving her home alone for more than a few hours is a risky proposition and leaving her alone overnight is out of the question. Enter Mr. Doggie Day Spa Operator, who, without fail, always leaves Sinatra so tired that she sleeps the whole ride home.

We're never exactly sure how Sinatra spends her time at Dogtopia "“ my sister suggests that the proprietors make all the dogs cobble shoes "“ but I'm pretty sure she's not tiring herself out by doing laps in a swimming pool. Here's the story behind that and some of the other more, uh, unique, doggie daycare and boarding services available:

Stay: A Modern Dog Hotel "“ Chicago

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Is your pup packing a few extra pounds after the holiday season? Then Chicago's Stay might be the perfect remedy. The 30,000 square foot facility features an aquatic fitness center with a custom designed lap pool, which uses paddle-in-place currents to "effectively increase muscle strength and endurance." All dogs wear life vests and receive a one-on-one workout, with a 25-minute session setting you back $20. You can also keep an eye on your dog while you're away via one of Stay's two Web cams.

Yankee Dog Retreat "“ Boston

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I don't know who thought it was a good idea to name an establishment in Boston after baseball's Evil Empire "“ maybe it's a not-so-veiled indication of what Red Sox fans think of their New York brethren "“ but the Yankee Dog Retreat boasts a lineup of amenities worthy of a champ. From purifying clay treatments and conditioning milk baths, to essential massages and emergency deskunkings, this place is guaranteed to pamper your pooch for the right price.

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For the on-the-go dog looking for a trendy way to stay fit, 20-minute Doggy Yoga sessions provide an "indirect way to teach obedience and focus," while aggressive or shy dogs might benefit from one of YDR's Positive Energy sessions. Among the items for sale in the boutique, the dog house at the bottom of this page would make some celebrities blush:

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America Dog & Cat Hotel "“ Las Vegas

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What happens in Vegas, (sits and) stays in Vegas. This luxurious hotel boasts private suites for dogs and cats and "play pals" who look after your pets during the day. The large free range area features 32-inch color TVs, which play "doggy cartoons," and, from the Web site: "pleasant soothing jazz music such as ENYA and SADE." I think my dog's partial to Snoop.

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Ritzy Canine Carriage House "“ New York

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Ever dropped $20 for room service that tastes like dog food? Well, at the Ritzy Canine Carriage House, the room service is dog food, including dishes made from organic meats, vegetables and basmati rice. While it also boasts deluxe accommodations, such as orthopedic bedding and a $175/night Presidential Suite replete with "a toy chest filled with all kinds of stimulating toys, a television, VCR and special selections from our video library," the Ritzy Canine is perhaps best well known for its one of a kind boutique. I suppose there are worse ways to spend money on your pups.

Cha Cha's Doggie Daycare "“ Sacramento

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Cha Cha's offers a wide variety of services and activities for your dog, including field trips, weight camp, and arts and crafts. Perhaps some particularly artistic former visitors were responsible for the facility's Rainbow Brite-inspired walls. Cha Cha's also hosts birthday parties with liver-flavored cake, a balloon chase, and, my personal favorite childhood game, bobbing for hot dogs. Mmmm. From their Web site: Cha Cha's is like "a day at doggie Disneyland." Pluto would be jealous.

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Paradise Ranch Country Club "“ Sun Valley, Calif.

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The artsy intro to the Paradise Ranch Web site says it all: "A resort so exclusive it doesn't accept people." People, after all, can't legally request a "bed buddy" with the concierge. That's right, with the largest staff to dog ratio on the West Coast, Paradise Ranch employees will actually "cuddle up and snooze the night away right next to your dog in order to bring them that much closer to home" for an extra $20 per night. That's just one way that Paradise Ranch promises to make your dog, however shy he might be, feel a part of the family from the time he sets paw inside the country club's secure gates.

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So what's the most ridiculous doggie daycare service you've heard of? And for all the dog owners out there, what's the most you've ever indulged your dog?

Scott Allen is an occasional contributor to mentalfloss.com. His last story was an exhaustive history of the Bud Bowl.

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Pop Culture
The Sweet Surprise Reunion Mr. Rogers Never Saw Coming
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Family Communications Inc./Getty Images

For more than 30 years, legendary children’s show host Fred Rogers used his PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to educate his young viewers on concepts like empathy, sharing, and grief. As a result, he won just about every television award he was eligible for, some of them many times over.

Rogers was gracious in accepting each, but according to those who were close to the host, one honor in particular stood out. It was March 11, 1999, and Rogers was being inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, an offshoot of the Emmy Awards. Just before being called to the stage, out came a surprise.

The man responsible for the elation on Rogers’s face was Jeff Erlanger, a 29-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin who became a quadriplegic at a young age after undergoing spinal surgery to remove a tumor. Rogers was surprised because Erlanger had appeared on his show nearly 20 years prior in 1980 to help kids understand how people with physical challenges adapt to life’s challenges. Here's his first encounter with the host:

Reunited on stage after two decades, Erlanger referred to the song, “It’s You I Like,” which the two sang during their initial meeting. “On behalf of millions of children and grown-ups,” Erlanger said, “it’s you I like.” The audience, including a visibly moved Candice Bergen, rose to their feet to give both men a standing ovation.

Following Erlanger’s death in 2007, Hedda Sharapan, an employee with Rogers’s production company, called their poignant scene “authentic” and “unscripted,” and that Rogers often pointed to it as his favorite moment from the series.

Near the end of the original segment in 1980, as Erlanger drives his wheelchair off-camera, Rogers waves goodbye and offers a departing message: “I hope you’ll come back to visit again.”

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20 Things You Might Not Have Known About Firefly
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© 2002 Twentieth Century Fox

As any diehard fan will be quick to tell you, Firefly's run was far, far too short. Despite its truncated run, the show still offers a wealth of fun facts and hidden Easter eggs. On the 15th anniversary of the series' premiere, we're looking back at the sci-fi series that kickstarted a Browncoat revolution.

1. A CIVIL WAR NOVEL INSPIRED THE FIREFLY UNIVERSE.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels from author Michael Shaara was Joss Whedon’s inspiration for creating Firefly. It follows Union and Confederate soldiers during four days at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Whedon modeled the series and world on the Reconstruction Era, but set in the future.

2. ORIGINALLY, THE SERENITY CREW INCLUDED JUST FIVE MEMBERS.

When Whedon first developed Firefly, he wanted Serenity to only have five crew members. However, throughout development and casting, Whedon increased the cast from five to nine.

3. REBECCA GAYHEART WAS ORIGINALLY CAST TO PLAY INARA.

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Before Morena Baccarin was cast as Inara Serra, Rebecca Gayheart landed the role—but she was fired after one day of shooting because she lacked chemistry with the rest of the cast. Baccarin was cast two days later and started shooting that day.

4. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS WAS ALMOST DR. SIMON TAM.

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Before it went to Sean Maher, Neil Patrick Harris auditioned for the role of Dr. Simon Tam.

5. JOSS WHEDON WROTE THE THEME SONG.

Whedon wrote the lyrics and music for Firefly’s opening theme song, “The Ballad of Serenity.”

6. STAR WARS SPACECRAFT APPEAR IN FIREFLY.

Star Wars was a big influence on Whedon. Captain Malcolm Reynolds somewhat resembles Han Solo, while Whedon used the Millennium Falcon as inspiration to create Serenity. In fact, you can spot a few spacecraft from George Lucas's magnum opus on the show.

When Inara’s shuttle docks with Serenity in the pilot episode, an Imperial Shuttle can be found flying in the background. In the episode “Shindig,” you can see a Starlight Intruder as the crew lands on the planet Persephone.

7. HAN SOLO FROZEN IN CARBONITE POPS UP THROUGHOUT FIREFLY.

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Nathan Fillion is a big Han Solo fan, so the Firefly prop department made a 12-inch replica of Han Solo encased in Carbonite for the Canadian-born actor. You can see the prop in the background in a number of scenes.

8. ALIEN'S WEYLAND-YUTANI CORPORATION MADE AN APPEARANCE.

In Firefly’s pilot episode, the opening scene features the legendary Battle of Serenity Valley between the Browncoats and The Union of Allied Planets. Captain Malcolm Reynolds takes control of a cannon with a Weyland-Yutani logo inside of its display. Weyland-Yutani is the large conglomerate corporation in the Alien film franchise. (Whedon wrote Alien: Resurrection in 1997.)

9. ZAC EFRON'S ACTING DEBUT WAS ON FIREFLY.

A 13-year-old Zac Efron made his acting debut in the episode “Safe” in 2002. He played Young Simon in a flashback.

10. CAPTAIN MALCOLM REYNOLDS'S HORSE IS A WESTERN TROPE.

At its core, Firefly is a sci-fi western—and Malcolm Reynolds rides the same horse on every planet (it's named Fred).

11. FOX AIRED FIREFLY'S EPISODES OUT OF ORDER.

Fox didn’t feel Firefly’s two-hour pilot episode was strong enough to air as its first episode. Instead, “The Train Job” was broadcast first because it featured more action and excitement. The network continued to cherry-pick episodes based on broad appeal rather than story consistency, and eventually aired the pilot as the show’s final episode.

12. THE ALLIANCE'S ORIGINS ARE AMERICAN AND CHINESE.

The full name of The Alliance is The Anglo-Sino Alliance. Whedon envisioned The Alliance as a merger of American and Chinese government and corporate superpowers. The Union of Allied Planets’ flag is a blending of the American and Chinese national flags.

13. THE SERENITY LOUNGE SERVED AS AN ACTUAL LOUNGE.

Between set-ups and shots, the cast would hang out in the lounge on the Serenity set rather than trailers or green rooms.

14. INARA SERRA'S NAME IS MESOPOTAMIAN.

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Inara Serra is named after the Mesopotamian Hittite goddess, the protector of all wild animals.

15. THE CHARACTERS SWORE (JUST NOT IN ENGLISH).

The Firefly universe is a mixture of American and Chinese culture, which made it easy for writers to get around censors by having characters swear in Chinese.

16. THE UNIFORMS ARE RECYCLED FROM STARSHIP TROOPERS.

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The uniforms for Alliance officers and soldiers were the costumes from the 1997 science fiction film Starship Troopers. The same costumes were repurposed again for the Starship Troopers sequel.

17. "SUMMER!" MEANS SOMEONE MESSED UP.

Every time a cast member flubbed one of his or her lines, they would yell Summer Glau’s name. This was a running gag among the cast after Glau forgot her lines in the episode “Objects In Space.”

18. THE SERENITY SPACESHIP WAS BUILT TO SCALE.

The interior of Serenity was built entirely to scale; rooms and sections were completely contiguous. The ship’s interior was split into two stages, one for the upper deck and one for the lower. Whedon showed off the Firefly set in one long take to open the Serenity movie.

19. "THE MESSAGE" SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE SHOW'S FAREWELL.

Although “The Message” was the twelfth episode, it was the last episode filmed during Firefly’s short run. Composer Greg Edmonson wrote a piece of music for a funeral scene in the episode, which served as a final farewell to the show. Sadly, it was one of three episodes (the other two were “Trash” and “Heart of Gold”) that didn’t air during Firefly’s original broadcast run on Fox.

20. FIREFLY AND SERENITY WERE SENT TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

American Astronaut Steven Ray Swanson is a big fan of Firefly, so when he was sent to the International Space Station for his first mission (STS-117) in 2007, he brought DVD copies of Firefly and its feature film Serenity aboard with him. The DVDs are now a permanent part of the space station’s library.

This post originally appeared in 2014.

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