Living the High Life with Pets

By AFM – April 1, 2014
photo by Brian Fitzsimmons

Aside from being the live music capital of the world and America’s fittest city, Austin is clearly a standout in one other area—the dog-friendly life. Where there are Austinites, there is surely a dog. You see them kayaking and SUPing with their masters on Lady Bird Lake, enjoying a bite in the Second Street district, and even shopping at the Domain. With the boom in high-rise luxury living, Austin Fit Magazine wondered how pets were accommodated in downtown’s towers. We took a look at the Austonian and 360 Condominiums to see how the four-legged residents enjoy the high life.

The Austonian

The tallest residential building west of the Mississippi, the Austonian promises a luxury lifestyle in the center of Austin—for pets, too.

Among the 171 high-end residences, and amenities like a wine vault, theater screening room, fitness center, Austonian residents have exclusive access to a 600-square foot dog park on the building’s tenth floor. With synthetic grass and a complete draining system, residents and their four-legged roommates can enjoy the outdoors without ever leaving the building.

The Austonian also offers an indoor dog grooming room, which includes raised bathing areas and grooming supplies. Residents can schedule services in the room with a preferred groomer.

360 Condominiums

At 44 stories, 360 Condominiums is second only to the Austonian in Austin’s high-rise cityscape, with 430 condos in the tower.

Residents Forrest Ballou and his boxer Rocky have become well known. Ballou didn’t set out to live in a condo; he’d owned a home in Austin for 20 years and had a dog, Zeus. However, a friend wanted to look at a condo. Ballou went along and within a week, his house was on the market. “Everybody thought I’d lost my mind,” he recalled. “They said, ‘But you have a dog!’” He took Zeus on a test visit to see how he’d deal with the elevator, and the dog’s positive reaction sealed the deal.

Photo by Zee Denny)

Forrest Ballou and Rocky, who live in the 360 Condos.

Surprisingly, Ballou has found that living with a dog in a high rise is actually a benefit. “It’s easy to get isolated in a condo environment,” he said. “In fact, when Zeus passed, I actually thought about putting my condo on the market; it just wasn’t any fun anymore without him.” The two had been out on the town together so often that the Austin Music Hall and Trifecta staff all knew the dog. “You think it would be a pain to go out with a dog, but it’s a very social thing,” Ballou explained. “I’ve met so many people because of having a dog—in fact, when I’m by myself, people stop to ask, ‘Where is he?’”

Rocky is Ballou’s new boxer puppy, and he’s happily adapted to downtown living. The elevator posed no problem and, because of the cleanliness of the 360 Condominium dog park, Rocky had vet approval to be out and play even when undergoing his Parvo vaccination. Ballou also takes advantage of a pet service to provide more socialization for Rocky. “I wanted him to be comfortable being walked by other people, and I met this guy in the elevator with several dogs,” he recalled. That man was Sam Sears, owner and founder of Austin Pet Services, a company that provides dog walking/running, “potty breaks,” and pet sitting services to clients mainly within the central and downtown areas. One unique part of Sear’s business is the GPS-trackable feature: walkers scan a QR code at the start and end of the appointment, and the client receives an email showing the walker, route taken (marked in paw prints), and duration of the appointment. APS’s most popular service for the downtown area is the “potty break,” a quick, $10 visit to make sure the dog does its business outside. Sears takes Rocky out once a week, mainly for the exposure to another handler, as Ballou works out of his condo.

Ballou and Rocky take full advantage of the dog park for residents on the fourth floor. It encompasses 400-square feet of special grass, and well-behaved dogs are welcome to play off leash. It’s available 24/7 (“It’s very secure, especially for the ladies, when you have those late-night needs to take the dog out”). Care is taken to clean and sanitize the area several times a day; a special drainage system whisks away urine and Mutt Mitts are on hand for residents to pick up waste. The area is also a great gathering place for neighbors. “I’ve met a lot of people through the dog park,” Ballou said. “In fact, there are a lot of people I’ve seen at the pet park who I haven’t seen out elsewhere.”


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