Neel and I alight from the car to a reception of growls and snarls, as seven or eight dogs - ranging from pint-sized to truly intimidating - bare their fangs and jump at the fence. This is not the reception I was expecting from Bangkok's most famous dog spa. A beaming chap in a white T-shirt, love beads and a floral sarong ducks out of a thicket of greenery. 'Wrong house,' he says with a chuckle. 'That's my neighbour. His dogs aren't as friendly as mine.' Meet Jare Jansrisuriyawong, proprietor of the Ndo Hai Dog Spa and a man on a mission to pamper your pooch. We walk through a lush profusion of tropical plants, my little mutt in tow, his tail nervously cocked at half-mast. A tiny white missile with black ears and a squashed nose erupts from between potted palms and starts licking and play-biting Neel. 'That's Chigoon,' says Jare. 'He's a French bulldog, my pride and joy. I used to show him. He's won lots of prizes, you know.' The spa is tucked away in a semi-industrial part of Rangsit, not far from Bangkok's international airport but, once you enter, the ambience is pure resort garden. Sandstone sculptures of mythical creatures peek from the thick foliage. Incense hangs in the air. Soothing world music wafts from hidden speakers. We pass a small swimming pool and ascend to a traditional thatch-roofed, wooden Thai sala, where all manner of serious spa accoutrements are laid out: rose petals, crystals, stones, powders and potions, and curiously, a thrusting collection of stone and wood phalluses of fearsome proportions. 'For good luck,' chuckles Jare, clocking my startled look. Half a dozen other dogs are ranged around the sala and, upon scenting Neel, jump up with wagging tails, eager for a salutary sniff or two. All the dogs are friendly; indeed the place is a veritable font of canine good vibes, so perhaps there's something to this concept after all. Pet spas are the latest rage in Thailand, with at least 20 now in Bangkok alone, catering to the dogs, cats and assorted other critters of the well-heeled. I had been rather sceptical. I own five dogs (two pedigree and very mischievous Labradors and three cute and mixed-up mongrels) and in my experience it doesn't take perfumed towels or rose petals to induce doggy-style bliss - a juicy bone or two, a tummy scratch and a stick to chase usually do the trick. Neel is our 'inside' dog, a quirk of canine genetics who, despite having a golden retriever father, resembles a black and fluffy dachshund. He adores humans, but does not play well with other dogs, so I figure he stands most to gain from the spa experience. 'What we're doing here is much different from other so-called dog spas,' says Jare, 39. 'We actually use proper spa treatments - herbal massage, healing stones, ayurvedic powders. Many of the other places are just glorified dog-minding services, where they might throw in a wash and some fancy food.' He opened the spa 18 months ago, after 15 years as a freelance tour guide and 10 years as a dog breeder, and business is brisk. He treats two to three dogs a day on weekdays and usually double that on weekends. 'I wanted to do something more for dogs, something to really help them,' he says. 'I was tired of simply breeding and selling them. I used to keep them in cages, but one day I had a kind of awakening - it was like my dogs spoke to me and told me they were unhappy. So I decided to free them from their cages and do what I could to make them happier. This was two or three years ago, just when spas were getting really hot in Thailand, and it just hit me - of course, a dog spa!' He chose the name Ndo Hai, which translates roughly as 'being kind to someone or something you feel sorry for'. The logo, with two palm trees, is often misread, he says, as Indo Thai. 'Dogs are amazing creatures,' he continues. 'They really do respond to special treatment. Our speciality, actually, is holistic healing for sick dogs, but of course healthy dogs really enjoy the treatments too.' To prepare for opening the spa, Jare trained as a masseur at the famous Chiva-Som health resort at Hua Hin, then boned up on Thai herbs at various temples (half of his nearly one-hectare property is a herb garden). He also studied ayurvedic medicine with 'an old Indonesian woman' who was an expert. He consulted with friends who worked at various dog clinics, kennels and veterinary practices and discovered dogs often came home sicker than they arrived. 'Some places, you leave a healthy dog and get a disease-ridden one back,' he says. 'That's no good. That's why I decided to investigate how herbal remedies, lots of love and a nice atmosphere could help sick dogs too.' Through study and lots of trial and error, he professes to have herbal treatments for canine ailments of the heart, liver, bones, joints, skin and kidneys. For example, a foul-smelling dog can be treated with essence of carrot and black coffee, a dry coat can be made silky with a concoction of egg and lime, while a fearsome blend of motor oil, garlic and sulphur will do the trick for mange. He also believes in the healing power of crystals. 'Give me your hand,' he orders. I do, and he proceeds to trace my veins with the pointy end of a big white prism. After a minute, despite my doubts, I feel a weird kind of tingling. 'Yeah,' he nods, sagely. Jare puts his crystal away and looks down at Neel. 'Okay, Mr Neel,' he says, 'let's get started.' First up is 10 minutes of swimming in the pool, to get the blood pumping. Neel has never been swimming before, but loves being bathed. He's nervous, but Jare's helper is patience personified and holds Neel in the water as his little legs pump furiously. Within five minutes, he's confidently swimming lengths. After the swim, the soak. In a deep, wooden bathtub, Jare adds three oils that turn the warm water into a cloudy, aromatic soup. 'I'm putting in orange essence, lemon and a special milk,' he says, adding handfuls of red and white rose petals. 'The petals don't do anything, apart from make the dog feel special.' Neel is lowered into the tub and stands there patiently as Jare and his assistant ladle the water over him and rub his body. Ten minutes of soaking, and he's lifted out and dried off. Next up is the bakop, a traditional Thai herbal bag, heated in steam then used for massage. Jare presses the bag all over Neel's sleek black coat. 'There are 15 herbs in the bag,' he explains.It's hard to tell if the dog is having a good time. His glassy-eyed stare could be a sign of utter bliss, or he could just be thinking, 'What are you idiots doing to me, and when can I go pee on trees and sniff butts?' The purpose of the herbal bag is to relax the dog, so he will lie still when the stone treatment is applied. 'We use two kinds of stone for this treatment - jade and carnadium,' Jare says. 'Jade is cooling and relaxing, while carnadium aids digestion.' He gets Neel to lie down, and applies the stones, along with liberal pinches of coloured powders - 'sulphur for the skin, casamona to kill ticks and Chinese medicine for relaxation'. We're about 30 minutes into the treatment now, and Neel, who's just over a year old and still really a puppy, is getting restless. He's started shaking, although it's a hot day. 'He's just a bit nervous,' says Jare, 'it's a lot of new stuff to experience the first time.' He positions the stones at 'special energy points' along Neel's spine - something to do with 'chakras'. After 10 minutes, Neel's body language, which I know pretty well, is screaming, 'Let me up to have a good shake'. When the stones are removed, that's exactly what he does. Neel's 40-minute treatment is 650 baht ($130). For big dogs, the price goes up to 900 baht. Sick dogs receive longer treatment, for which an extra 500 baht is charged. For 10,000 baht a month, owners can deposit their dogs for a three-month obedience course. It's a popular option with well-to-do Bangkokians who like the idea - but not the reality - of dog ownership. Some owners also bring their dogs simply to chill out, soak up the ambience and swim in the pool, including one person with four fully grown golden retrievers(one an absolute monster at 80kg). Jare says he's had all kinds of offers from businesspeople wanting a piece of the dog spa action, but he says he will only consider franchise agreements with people whose hearts are in the right place. 'There's one franchise in Phuket and one in Singapore,' he says. 'It depends on my gut feeling. If someone just wants to make money, then they shouldn't bother coming to talk to me.' With that, he produces a noisy blow-drier, prompting a minor freak-out. Neel growls and his hackles go up, legs pumping like pistons to wriggle out of Jare's firm grasp. 'He's terrified of the vacuum cleaner at home,' I explain, and suggest that he can probably do without a salon-style coiffure. Neel, realising he's free to go, has another vigorous shake, trots down the sala's steps, looks back slyly, then proceeds to roll around like crazy in the dirt. Jare isn't fazed. 'Dogs will be dogs,' he laughs.