A “pet paradise” located in China’s capital, Beijing’s Shunyi district serves as the home for one beloved border collie named Sylar. According to reports, the luxury villa with an estimated cost of US$500,000 comes complete with air-conditioned rooms, a seasonally-heated pool, a spa, a trampoline, and a spacious lawn.
Four years ago, Beijing native Zhou Tianxiao’s life was headed nowhere. He had dropped out of school at age 15, was unemployed, and was living with his grandmother. However, the 31-year-old somehow found incredible success after getting Sylar during such a low point in his life.
“Sylar changed my life, so I will give it back everything I have,” Zhou said.
Zhou revealed that after his parents divorced during his childhood, he became a rebellious kid and spent his days in internet cafes playing games, drinking and picking up fights. “That life lasted for more than a decade,” he shared.
When he failed to find happiness in computer games, Zhou sought the companionship of a loyal friend.
“I heard that dogs were loyal. No matter how poor their owners were, they will still be with them. That’s why I decided to have a dog,” he said.
Zhou felt he regained the love he lost in his childhood after Sylar became a part of his life. He considers him more of a family member than just a pet. With this new furball companion in his life, he started staying up late at night studying dog training techniques on YouTube. He taught Sylar to play dead, walk on two legs, and give high-fives, among other popular tricks.
As a proud owner, Zhou would shoot videos of Sylar’s tricks and share them online. His videos became a hit and the smart pooch eventually became an online star, earning hundreds of thousands of followers and racking up millions of views on social media platforms. Sylar’s growing popularity also encouraged Zhou to open a dog food and toy store on Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao.
Using the money he saved up from his online business, Zhou rented an 8,600-square-kilometer courtyard in a rural area of Shunyi district and built the dog mansion worth half a million dollars last year. His girlfriend, Liu Wei, currently helps him run the mansion with a staff of 10 people.
Sylar’s mansion was opened to the public last May so other dogs can experience the luxuries Zhou’s beloved dog had been enjoying for about a year now. For a fee, dogs can sleep in air-conditioned rooms with giant pillows and personal backyards. They can also take a medicinal bath in the spa for $26 or get a soothing oil massage for $58.