High Rise Pets

Pups very much at home in Texas tower
By Lisa Wogan, June 2011, Updated February 2015

In mid-June, when the first owners moved into the Austonian, a 56-story luxury high-rise in Austin’s up-and-coming Second Street District, some of their welcome gift bags included biscuits from the Groovy Dog Bakery. This was just one of many gestures aimed at making new canine residents feel at home.

“Anybody who visits Austin can see from the get-go that it’s a pet-friendly city, and during development we considered the importance of embracing our future homeowners’ pets as an extension of the family,” says Austonian marketing director JoAnna Nuding, who, like everyone on the development team, has a dog. In her case, a 10-yearold black rescue Pug named Sadie.

“We asked ourselves, What is going to make someone want to bring a pet into an urban environment?” Nuding says. The answer: A 600-square-foot dog park on the 10th floor with selfdraining artificial turf; a fully loaded indoor grooming area where owners can DIY or arrange for in-building “spa” services with nearby Dirty Dog (one of several neighborhood pet businesses, including a vet and doggy daycare, partnering with the new establishment); a designated pet elevator; dog-loving staff primed to lend a hand including in-a-pinch walks, even at 3 am; and, importantly, no breed or size restrictions.

Offering amenities and services that go beyond the merely pet-friendly is the norm at many new high-end condos — from One Park Place in Kansas City to Sky Las Vegas on the Strip to the Residences at the Ritz Carlton in Toronto.

Why go so far for dogs? Luxury-minded empty nesters are downsizing, and “the mindset of the empty nester is the kids are gone but thank God I’ve still got my dog,” Austonian general manager Terry Arteburn says. “The dogs are now their children,” and for them, only the best will do. Ranging from $586,000 to $7.2 million and up, 40 percent of the Austonian’s 178 units were sold as of early summer.

Article first appeared in The Bark, Issue 61: Sept/Oct 2010

Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom.