"You want me to read a story?" says Sonya DeFazio, a kennel employee sitting cross-legged on the floor with a "Clifford The Big Red Dog" book on her lap.

The bedtime tale at Best Friends Pet Care caps a busy day for Max, a 7-year-old West Highland white terrier, and Leo, a 2-year-old Pomeranian. During their two-day stay, they've already had fitness sessions, walks, play time, ice cream breaks, "suite treats" and bottled water.

The final tab: $57 a day for services and $78 daily for boarding in the 56-square-foot "Boathouse Row" suite, which has a low-lying bed and is decorated with oars, sailboat wallpaper and a framed poster of the Philadelphia landmark for which the room is named. Pets typically stay four to five days.

The nation's pet boarding industry has figured out it doesn't take much persuasion to get pet owners, often guilty about dropping their dog or cat off at a kennel while they head off on vacation, to pay extra for pampering: In the last five years, spending on pet services including boarding and grooming has more than doubled to $2.5 billion, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association in Greenwich, Conn.

"It's the art of the upsell," said Charlotte Reed, a pet trend watcher who is vice president of The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, in Mt. Laurel, N.J.

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