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6 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. 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 the dog spa.

We're not exactly sure how Sinatra spends her time at Dogtopia "“ my sister suggests that the proprietors make all the dogs cobble shoes "“ but it always leaves the pup so tired that she sleeps the whole ride home. Let's take a look at some of the other more, uh, unique, doggie daycare and boarding services available:

1. Stay: A Modern Dog Hotel "“ Chicago

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.

2. 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.

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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3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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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Where Did The Easter Bunny Come From?
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Getty Images

The Easter Bunny is an anthropomorphic, egg-laying rabbit who sneaks into homes the night before Easter to deliver baskets full of colored eggs, toys and chocolate. A wise man once told me that all religions are beautiful and all religions are wacko, but even if you allow for miracles, angels, and pancake Jesus, the Easter Bunny really comes out of left field.

If you go way back, though, the Easter Bunny starts to make a little sense. Spring is the season of rebirth and renewal. Plants return to life after winter dormancy and many animals mate and procreate. Many pagan cultures held spring festivals to celebrate this renewal of life and promote fertility. One of these festivals was in honor of Eostre or Eastre, the goddess of dawn, spring and fertility near and dear to the hearts of the pagans in Northern Europe. Eostre was closely linked to the hare and the egg, both symbols of fertility.

As Christianity spread, it was common for missionaries to practice some good salesmanship by placing pagan ideas and rituals within the context of the Christian faith and turning pagan festivals into Christian holidays (e.g. Christmas). The Eostre festival occurred around the same time as the Christians' celebration of Christ's resurrection, so the two celebrations became one, and with the kind of blending that was going on among the cultures, it would seem only natural that the pagans would bring the hare and egg images with them into their new faith (the hare later became the more common rabbit).

The pagans hung on to the rabbit and eventually it became a part of Christian celebration. We don't know exactly when, but it's first mentioned in German writings from the 1600s. The Germans converted the pagan rabbit image into Oschter Haws, a rabbit that was believed to lay a nest of colored eggs as gifts for good children. (A poll of my Twitter followers reveals that 81% of the people who replied believe the Easter Bunny to be male, based mostly on depictions where it's wearing a bowtie. The male pregnancy and egg-laying mammal aspects are either side effects of trying to lump the rabbit and egg symbols together, or rabbits were just more awesome back then.)

Oschter Haws came to America with Pennsylvania Dutch settlers in the 1700s, and evolved into the Easter Bunny as it became entrenched in American culture. Over time the bunny started bringing chocolate and toys in addition to eggs (the chocolate rabbit began with the Germans, too, when they started making Oschter Haws pastries in the 1800s).

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The Easter Bunny also went with European settlers to Australia—as did actual bunnies. These rabbits, fertile as they are, got a little out of control, so the Aussies regard them as serious pests. The destruction they've caused to habitats is responsible for the major decline of some native animals and causes millions of dollars worth of damage to crops. It is, perhaps, not a great idea to use an invasive species as a symbol for a religious holiday, so Australia has been pushing the Easter Bilby (above, on the right), an endangered marsupial that kind of looks like a bunny if you squint. According to some of our Australian readers, the Easter Bunny is not in danger of going extinct.

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Gregor Smith, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The Men Behind Your Favorite Liquors
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Gregor Smith, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It's hard to walk down the aisle of a liquor store without running across a bottle bearing someone's name. We put them in our cocktails, but how well do we know them? Here's some biographical detail on the men behind your favorite tipples.

1. Captain Morgan

FromSandToGlass, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The Captain wasn't always just the choice of sorority girls looking to blend spiced rum with Diet Coke; in the 17th century he was a feared privateer. Not only did the Welsh pirate marry his own cousin, he ran risky missions for the governor of Jamaica, including capturing some Spanish prisoners in Cuba and sacking Port-au-Prince in Haiti. He then plundered the Cuban coast before holding for ransom the entire city of Portobelo, Panama. He later looted and burned Panama City, but his pillaging career came to an end when Spain and England signed a peace treaty in 1671. Instead of getting in trouble for his high-seas antics, Morgan received knighthood and became the lieutenant governor of Jamaica.

2. Johnnie Walker

Kevin Chang, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Walker, the name behind the world's most popular brand of Scotch whisky, was born in 1805 in Ayrshire, Scotland. When his father died in 1819, Johnnie inherited a trust of a little over 400 pounds, which the trustees invested in a grocery store. Walker grew to become a very successful grocer in the town of Kilmarnock and even sold a whisky, Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky. Johnnie's son Alexander was the one who actually turned the family into famous whisky men, though. Alexander had spent time in Glasgow learning how to blend teas, but he eventually returned to Kilmarnock to take over the grocery from his father. Alexander turned his blending expertise to whisky, and came up with "Old Highland Whisky," which later became Johnnie Walker Black Label.

3. Jack Daniel

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Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel of Tennessee whiskey fame was the descendant of Welsh settlers who came to the United States in the early 19th century. He was born in 1846 or 1850 and was one of 13 children. By 1866 he was distilling whiskey in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Unfortunately for the distiller, he had a bit of a temper. One morning in 1911 Daniel showed up for work early and couldn't get his safe open. He flew off the handle and kicked the offending strongbox. The kick was so ferocious that Daniel injured his toe, which then became infected. The infection soon became the blood poisoning that killed the whiskey mogul.

Curious about why your bottle of J.D. also has Lem Motlow listed as the distillery's proprietor? Daniel's own busy life of distilling and safe-kicking kept him from ever finding a wife and siring an heir, so in 1907 he gave the distillery to his beloved nephew Lem Motlow, who had come to work for him as a bookkeeper.

4. Jose Cuervo

Shane R, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 1758, Jose Antonio de Cuervo received a land grant from the King of Spain to start an agave farm in the Jalisco region of Mexico. Jose used his agave plants to make mescal, a popular Mexican liquor. In 1795, King Carlos IV gave the land grant to Cuervo's descendant Jose Maria Guadalupe de Cuervo. Carlos IV also granted the Cuervo family the first license to commercially make tequila, so they built a larger factory on the existing land. The family started packaging their wares in individual bottles in 1880, and in 1900 the booze started going by the brand name Jose Cuervo. The brand is still under the leadership of the original Jose Cuervo's family; current boss Juan-Domingo Beckmann is the sixth generation of Cuervo ancestors to run the company.

5. Jim Beam

Jim Beam, the namesake of the world's best-selling bourbon whiskey, didn't actually start the distillery that now bears his name. His great-grandfather Jacob Beam opened the distillery in 1788 and started selling his first barrels of whiskey in 1795. In those days, the whiskey went by the less-catchy moniker of "Old Tub." Jacob Beam handed down the distillery to his son David Beam, who in turn passed it along to his son David M. Beam, who eventually handed the operation off to his son, Colonel James Beauregard Beam, in 1894. Although he was only 30 years old when he took over the family business, Jim Beam ran the distillery until Prohibition shut him down. Following repeal in 1933, Jim quickly built a distillery and began resurrecting the Old Tub brand, but he also added something new to the company's portfolio: a bourbon simply called Jim Beam.

6. Tanqueray

Adrian Scottow, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

When he was a young boy, Charles Tanqueray's path through life seemed pretty clear. He was the product of three straight generations of Bedfordshire clergymen, so it must have seemed natural to assume that he would take up the cloth himself. Wrong. Instead, he started distilling gin in 1830 in a little plant in London's Bloomsbury district. By 1847, he was shipping his gin to colonies around the British Empire, where many plantation owners and troops had developed a taste for Tanqueray and tonic.

7. Campari

Michael, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Gaspare Campari found his calling quickly. By the time he was 14, he had risen to become a master drink mixer in Turin, and in this capacity he started dabbling with a recipe for an aperitif. When he eventually settled on the perfect mixture, his concoction had over 60 ingredients. In 1860, he founded Gruppo Campari to make his trademark bitters in Milan. Like Colonel Sanders' spice blend, the recipe for Campari is a closely guarded secret supposedly known by only the acting Gruppo Campari chairman, who works with a tiny group of employees to make the concentrate with which alcohol and water are infused to get Campari. The drink is still made from Gaspare Campari's recipe, though, which includes quinine, orange peel, rhubarb, and countless other flavorings.

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