Prepare for Summer Boarding

With Spring Break and summer vacations around the corner it is never too early to start thinking about what to do with your beloved pet during your travel time. Boarding a pet can be a stressful time for not only the pet but the owners as well. Traditional kennels can leave pets stressed and owners feeling guilty for leaving their beloved pets in a small crate for a week. A great alternative to the traditional boarding that kennels offer is a home boarding facility. Home boarding facilities offer a home away from home for your pet. While you are on vacation, your pet will feel at home in a safe and caring environment. A good reputable home care facility will have the specialized care that your pet requires. This care includes the caregivers are certified in pet CPR and first aid and are dog behavior specialists. A good reputable facility will take the time for a meet and greet before drop off. This ensure both your pet and the facility have reviewed the needs of your pet and are prepared to adapt your pet socially with the other pets staying at the facility. This personalized care allows your pet to stay in his normal routine and helps keep your pet stress free and happy. In addition, a good facility will provide daily updates or photos of your pet while you are away.

Some quick tips for finding the perfect boarding facility

  • The facility has a valid insurance plan
  • Their website is up and running with good reviews and plenty of personal references
  • Plan ahead, when you start planning your vacation is the perfect time to plan your pet’s care
  • The facility is active in the community
  • The facility is certified in pet CPR and First Aid
  • The care givers have a strong background in canine body language and behavior and are professional

Boarding your pet doesn’t have to be a stressful time. With some careful planning and the right boarding environment your pet will enjoy your vacation as much as you!

Petz Carlton wins customer service award

MADISON –Mike and Melissa Cox, owners of Petz Carlton pet-sitting community received the “Best Customer Service” award in Huntsville.

Alcova Mortgage sponsored the program. Petz Carlton received the award for its “noteworthy fast response time, reliable daily photo updates and stellar customer service to both human and furry clients that brings comfort and peace of mind to clients,” an Alcova spokesperson said.

Petz Carlton uses safety procedures and screening processes that set them apart from the competition. “We provide a client’s furry family a home away from home so clients can enjoy a guilt free vacation,” Melissa said.

Petz Carlton’s amenities include nail trimming and painting, bathing, nose and pad care.

The Cox family pets are Kya, two-year-old Irish Wolfhound; Lily, three-year-old Shih Tzu; and Izzy, eight-year-old American Eskimo.

To schedule meet-and-greet time, call 256-682-4078, email to or visit

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Petz Carlton wins customer service award

Melissa Cox likes town’s community-mindedness

MADISON – A native of Jackson in south Alabama, Melissa Cox graduated from the University of South Alabama with honors in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

To pursue her career, Melissa moved to Madison and met future husband Michael, a longtime Madison resident. They married in 2009; their son Wyatt is two years old.

“Madison, although more heavily populated, provides Southern hospitality I’ve grown to love from my small hometown. Madison has much more entertainment, restaurants and culture,” Melissa said.

Residents’ community-minded, generous spirit has encouraged the Coxes to get involved. “This community has been so good to us. We’re constantly looking for ways to give back,” Melissa said.

Melissa works as a software engineer for SAIC but in 2013 founded Petz Carlton, “Your Dog’s Home Away From Home”. “We board dogs in our homes. We treat them like part of our family and provide daily photo updates to the pup’s parents,” she said.

In 2015, Michael “decided to abandon his career and become Petz Carlton full time. He has applied his sales and marketing experience to grow our company to seven Tennessee Valley locations,” Melissa said.

The Coxes often hold charitable fundraisers. Mike recently launched the first Petz Panty at an event and collected an entire truckload of food for local shelters. Barks and Boo’s in October will help the American Cancer Society.

“We’re trained in canine body language in behavior … to interpret the emotional state of the client’s pup and create a calm, stress-free environment,” Melissa said. “We train and insure ‘hosts’ that represent our service.” They want to hire five new hosts.

“My husband interviews each host and performs a site evaluation. I analyze their pup’s temperament (for sociability),” she said.

Kya, their gentle-giant Irish wolfhound and their Shih Tzu, Lily, “are stars of a coloring book, ‘How to Safely Greet Dogs.’ We offer free demonstrations in schools. Kya attends so children can practice illustrated techniques. Her size and gentle nature are well received by kids and teachers,” Melissa said.

Melissa and Mike frequent local breweries and food trucks for entertainment. They enjoy local performers, like Dave Anderson. They fish, kayak and visit with friends and family.

“We look forward to many more years of work and play in this wonderful community,” Melissa said.

Furry Friends Foster Fitness

by Sarah Schmidt

Dozens of scientific studies conducted over the past decade show that pets are more than just furry friends; they actually add years onto the life expectancy of their owners. In addition, pets significantly improve their owners’ quality of life and contribute to their overall health in surprising ways. For example, one study showed that just a few minutes of petting your dog releases endorphins that lower your blood pressure by as much as 10 points.

The science is so convincing that the American Heart Association made headlines recently when it released a statement saying that owning a pet — particularly a dog — could help lower your risk of heart disease“Not surprisingly, dog owners who walk their dogs are more likely to achieve the recommended level of physical activity than dog owners who do not walk their dogs,” the AHA said, citing one study of 5,200 Japanese dog owners who were found to be 54 percent more likely than non-dog owners to get regular, sustained periods of exercise.

LEAN-FurryFriends-image2“Pets also play a role in providing social support to their owners, which is an important factor in helping you stick with a new habit or adopting a new healthy behavior,” the AHA said. Some data even suggested a relationship between pet ownership and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, leading the AHA to note that pet owners who suffered from cardiovascular disease were more likely than non-pet owners to survive heart attacks.

The data proves what Melissa Cox, owner and founder of the Huntsville-based home boarding facility Petz Carlton, sees in practice every day. With Petz Carlton’s five locations across north Alabama, Cox works with dozens of pet owners weekly. She says pets improve both the physical and mental health of their owners.

“They give people, who are able, a reason to be physically active; they provide companionship and unconditional love that’s good for the mind and soul. They can even be conversation icebreakers and help people develop relationships with one another,” Cox said.

Cox should know. Her clients often call her “the dog whisperer” because she has such a remarkable connection with dogs. It comes naturally as the daughter of R.F. Dickey, a three time world champion breeder and handler. Cox has been raising and training dogs all her life.

“I’ve seen people who struggle with OCD or depression handle their symptoms better from owning a pet,” Cox said. When one of her clients was diagnosed with ALS last year, his wife adopted a retired Corgi show dog as a surprise. The relationship has been nothing short of inspiring, Cox said.

“She [the Corgi] knows when he is feeling down and will offer him her favorite toy. She licks his hands because she’s learned that he no longer has full use of them; she alerts his wife when he needs help getting out of his chair or bed,” Cox explained.

LEAN-FurryFriends-grouppic1That kind of unconditional love is exactly what the studies cited by the AHA found so beneficial to pet owners. Connecting with a pet, just like any enjoyable activity, lowers stress levels. Less stress, reduced anxiety and lower blood pressure all contribute to improved heart health. Cox offers these tips on how best to connect with your dog for maximum physical and mental benefits.

– Play like a kid: Run around in the yard; throw a ball; play chase. Dogs remind us to live in the moment and enjoy life to the fullest.

– Walk or jog: Walking of course is great exercise, but your dog needs it too. Get out and explore your neighborhood. Check out a dog park. Go hiking. Sporting dogs appreciate keeping up with you on a trail.

– Swim: Most dogs love water, so a day at the lake can be fun for you and your dog.

– Advance to complex: Agility trials with multiple obstacles might be a good option if you have an active dog. Agility courses require you to jog along beside your dog and give hand cues. It’s a good cardio workout!

Whatever you do, Cox says the bond pet owners make with their pets produces unconditional love like none other. “No matter what we’re wearing or what we look like, no matter how much money we have or the car we drive, our dogs provide a sense of acceptance that is judgement-free,” she said.

Precious Pets

An Interview with Paris

Paris, featured in Edgewater Living boast about her stay, spa treatments and pampered visit to the Petz Carlton while her parents are on travel. In the magazine, Paris’s photo is featured. This photo was taken at the Petz Carlton as part of their complimentary “Puttin’ on the Ritz” photo session. Paris really puts life as a Petz Pup in the spotlight and will always be Petz Royalty.

Barks and Boo’s 2018

Barks and Boo’s provides Halloween fun for dogs, humans

HUNTSVILLE — The fourth annual Barks and Boo’s event, hosted by Petz Pack and Rocket 95.1, saw plenty of smiling faces and wagging tails at Big Spring Park Oct. 13.

Hundreds brought their costumed furry friends to the park downtown for an afternoon of games, raffles and costume contests benefiting the American Cancer Society and the Huntsville area’s Relay for Life. Vendors were also present. The event was free to attend, pay to play. Melissa Cox, founder of Petz Pack, said the event raised about $3,200.

“This year’s turnout was astounding,” said Cox. “The only complaint we received was the length of the line to get in. … Everywhere you looked, there was a dog participating in one of the games, and everyone had a great time.”

Games and activities this year included returning favorites such as Bobbin for Hot Dogs, the PupCake Walk and the Treat Stacking competition. The PupCake Walk, sponsored by A Barker’s Dozen, allowed players to win cupcakes for their dogs to enjoy. Cox said this year’s event also saw the addition of several new activities: High Five for Treats, Stay for Treats, the Cup Game, Which Hand, Ball Catch, Down for Treats, Sit for Treats and Expert Tricks.

Raffles were held throughout the event. Cox said her husband, Michael, gathered more than $3,000 worth of prizes from local businesses. Raffle and contest prizes this year included treats, toys, goodies for humans and prize packs such as the “evening with your dog” pack and Tito’s gift bag. Local author Catherine L. Knowles donated signed copies of her book, “The Doughnut Tree.”

The main event of the afternoon was the costume contest, with Michael Cox and Rocket 95.1’s Marsha Seymour serving as emcees. Dogs could enter in three categories: cutest, scariest and best overall. Many dogs strutted their stuff and showed off a wide range of costumes to earn the top prizes.

The winners of the cutest costume were doggy duo Henry VIII and Buddy, who were dressed as Henry VIII and his executioner. The scariest costume went to Kayla Stuart’s dog Ollie, who was dressed as classic villain Freddy Krueger from the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” film series.

Best overall costume was awarded to three-legged pirate dog Rain. Rain’s owner, Jennifer Bethig, dressed Rain up in a pirate outfit and turned a wagon into Rain’s pirate ship. The winning feature, however, was Rain’s wooden leg. Bethig said Rain lost a leg to cancer, which made the event’s donations to the American Cancer Society even more meaningful.

“It is our hope that the monies from efforts such as these will bring us that much closer to a cure for humans and canines alike,” Cox said. “Canines are caregivers for cancer patients, too. This was a celebration of our furry family in the fight against cancer.”

Cox said Petz Pack looks forward to continuing Barks and Boo’s for years to come and will keep working to grow and improve each year.

To view more photos and a video of the event, courtesy of Pixel Joe’s Photography and Video, visit the Barks and Boo’s Facebook event page.

To learn more about Petz Pack, visit

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Cox authors ‘How to Safely Greet Dogs’

MADISON – After extensively working with dogs, Melissa Cox has authored a children’s coloring book, “How to Safely Greet Dogs.”
“My father was a three-time world champion dog handler and trainer. I grew up in a multi-dog environment and was taught very young how to handle myself around strange dogs,” Melissa said.
However, she often observes children who approach dogs incorrectly, which can be dangerous. She hopes the book will be a conversation piece
between parents and children on safe introductions.
In addition, Melissa and husband Mike Cox own Petz Carlton, a home-based business offering an alternative to traditional boarding. Petz Carlton has three home sites in Madison for owners to take their dogs for care.
To download the coloring book, visit and click the logo for “How to Safely Greet Dogs.” Nathan Payne illustrated the book.
The Coxes offer free printing on request for school demonstrations. “We’ll bring the book’s stars Kya, our Irish Wolfhound, and Lily, our Shih Tzu, and give children the chance to practice the illustrated techniques,” Melissa said.
Both children and adults make common mistakes when meeting dogs:
* Reaching out your hand for the dog to sniff provides a hand to bite if the dog feels threatened.
* Approaching by curving our walk to their side, so as not to be intimidating especially to a leashed dog.
* Approaching a service dog or a dog with a yellow ribbon on his leash. A yellow ribbon indicates the dog is sick or in training.
* Misjudging a dog’s distrust, even before a growl.
* Patting a dog’s head. (After meeting a dog, only gently stroke the dog’s side.)
“Always ask the owner before approaching their dog. Some dogs … may fear children, tall men or large hats. Kneel, turn your side to the pup and allow the dog to solicit the meet,” Melissa said. “Any breed (can) experience anxiety and bite out of fear.”
State Farm approached the Coxes about sponsoring school visits. “Dog bites are one top claim on homeowner’s insurance. They believe the coloring book can help reduce that statistic,” Melissa said.
For information, call 256-682-4078 or visit or Facebook/Petz Carlton.

Petz Carlton gives pets a home away from home

MADISON – A bad boarding experience for their pet Shih Tzu led Mike and Melissa Cox to open Petz Carlton, an alternative to traditional boarding.

“We integrate your pup(s) into our home and treat them like part of our family while you travel. We keep your pup’s normal routine and provide personalized care,” Mike said.

Petz Carlton hosts are trained “in canine body language and behavior” and certified in pet first aid and CPR by American Red Cross. Never isolated, pets constantly socialize with other pups under professional supervision.

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Life in Edgewater Sponsor Highlight

Have you ever had to leave your furry babies to go on vacation? It can be a stressful time for both pet and owner. What if there were a place where your dog could be as happy and stress free as if he/she were at home? Thanks to Petz Carlton this dream is now a reality! Whether your pooch needs a place to play for the day or for an extended stay, owners Melissa and Mike Cox have opened their home to your dogs for a happy stress free experience. Not only that, but they have stepped up the game to give spa experience and even fun photo shoots to pamper your dog to the extreme. They even send you Facebook updates to see what your pooch is doing while you are out of town.

Melissa and Michael Cox are both Alabama natives with a shared passion for man’s best friend. Melissa moved to Huntsville after graduating from the University of South Alabama and met Michael (a Madison native) after a co-worker recommended his construction company to Melissa for a kitchen remodel. Obviously things worked out well on that remodel, and they are married and expecting a baby this year. Melissa’ s father was a four time World Champion Dog handler and trainer, so I guess you could say loving dogs is in her blood. Melissa began keeping pets in her home to help her pay for college. After graduating she was pursuing a career in computer science, but then fate stepped into her and Michael’s lives. While on a trip the couple fell in love with a Shih Tzu they would name Lily, the only problem was they had a non-refundable trip scheduled the following week. They decided to board the puppy at the vet but worried the entire time! “Was she being let out enough?” “Would she remember us?” “What about her potty training?” Needless to say the trip was ruined and the experience inspired Melissa to re-open Petz Carlton. They have been happily in business ever since.

Petz Carlton is a unique place; it is the Cox’s home, not a kennel, no concrete and no artificial turf! When you bring your dogs to Petz Carlton, they conduct a professional and stress free meet and greet for you and your pet. They welcome their guests in their REAL home, and they are REAL dog lovers. Their pack includes:  Izzy, an American Eskimo; Lily, a Shih Tzu; and last but not least is Kya, a two year old Irish Wolfhound with the gentlest personality I have ever seen in a large dog.

Petz Carlton has multiple locations to better serve the area. All Petz Carlton hosts are trained to have a professional understanding of dog behavior and to interpret canine body language. They offer not only personalized overnight care but professional techniques that build confidence and social skills in your pup. That is the Petz Carlton difference!

The Petz Carlton family is dedicated to their clients. They maintain continuing education to provide a better experience for you and your furry family. Visit their website for more information or to join the pack.