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Murray Hill Dog Day Care to Offer Reiki, Manicures for Pets

By Mary Johnson | October 6, 2011 3:46pm
Cynthia Okimoto, 31, poses with her dog, Todo, and cast members from the reality series
Cynthia Okimoto, 31, poses with her dog, Todo, and cast members from the reality series "Doggie Moms".
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Cynthia Okimoto

MURRAY HILL — A new establishment in Murray Hill, slated to open later this month, will offer a slew of indulgent services, from Reiki treatments to manicures and pedicures to essential oil rubdowns — and it’s all for dogs.

New York Dog Nanny is currently in the final stages of construction. Owner and founder Cynthia Okimoto, 31, has purchased sofas to give the day care space a homier feel. She and her sister have been frantically purchasing adorable accessories for an on-site pooch boutique, and Okimoto has been reaching out to various canine professionals to assemble a decadent menu of services for discerning dog owners, she said.

“We’re trying to make it a one-stop shop but really high end,” Okimoto said. “Everything is for the dogs.”

Cynthia Okimoto, 31, with her mom's dog. Okimoto is getting ready to launch her own dog day care in Murray Hill.
Cynthia Okimoto, 31, with her mom's dog. Okimoto is getting ready to launch her own dog day care in Murray Hill.
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Cynthia Okimoto

Okimoto first started New York Dog Nanny about a year ago. She holds a masters in industrial organizational psychology, and at the time, she was vying for a “dream job” with Jet Blue. When that fell through, she started rethinking her career path.

She had a dog, a 5-pound Yorkie named Todo, and she hated the thought of leaving the pup at home alone during the day. So she decided to start her own day care/dog walking/boarding service from her one-bedroom apartment in Astoria, Queens.

“Nothing in New York, nothing in my life, has ever given me this much energy as an idea for doggie day care,” Okimoto said.

“I don’t feel like I work,” she added. “Being around them calms me.”

The in-home business was challenging, Okimoto admitted. She had a few steady clients, but she wanted to expand. So she reached out to a lawyer, an accountant, a web developer and a branding expert to find out what it would take to make a bigger, better business work.

Okimoto has been practicing Reiki, a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation, for about five years, she said. Her first “client” was a neighborhood cat, which obliged Okimoto’s desire to practice and perfect her technique, she said.

“[Reiki is] kind of like the hot thing now for the dog community,” she said.

At the Strut Your Mutt event in Lower Manhattan several weeks ago, Okimoto said she performed Reiki treatments on about 25 dogs.

“The animals were all so relaxed,” she said.

Because of her experience with the healing technique, Okimoto will make that part of the menu of options available at New York Dog Nanny.

The essential oil treatments are another holistic option that Okimoto has encountered in the dog care community. Different aromas and oils can have profound effects on a pup’s comfort and stress level, Okimoto said, and that sort of amenity can be particularly appealing for a dog owner looking to board a nervous pet. 

The idea to offer mani/pedis at her shop came to her after she had her dog’s paw prints read. It’s like palm reading for dogs, she said, and the person gazing intently at Todo’s tiny paws suggested that the Yorkie might enjoy having its nails done.

One hot pink manicure later, Okimoto was a fan of the concept.

“Nobody else is really doing [mani/pedis for dogs],” she said.

The location for New York Dog Nanny is in a second-floor space covered by windows, meaning passersby can gaze inside and watch Okimoto’s furry, four-legged clientele frolic throughout the day, she said.

Okimoto said she wanted to give the space a homely feel, hence the couches she recently purchased and the crown molding she’s having installed.

She is also bringing in a human bed so that her overnight boarding clients will have a soft mattress to sleep on while their owners are away, she said.

The space is small, so Okimoto will have to limit the capacity to 10 small dogs a day for day care and just five for boarding. Prices will likely run about $55 a day for day care and $75 a day for boarding, and a full-time staffer will stay with the dogs overnight, Okimoto said.

Getting the day care up and running has meant lots of 18-hour days for the young entrepreneur, but she said the hard work doesn’t bother her a bit.

“New York Dog Nanny hasn’t interfered with me having a life because New York Dog Nanny is my life,” Okimoto said. “I can hardly wait for all the little doggies to come in.”

New York Dog Nanny, located at 126 Lexington Avenue between East 28th and East 29th streets, will be open seven days a week beginning later this month.