Jun. 26—CATLETTSBURG — Phoebe, a Lhasa Apso from Catlettsburg, enjoyed at the day at the spa recently.
Make that the groomer. But Phoebe seemed to think is was a spa, what with the soothing, warm bath, mani-pedi and a stylish haircut, complete with tiny bows at the base of her ears.
Herb Wamsley, one of her people, said Phoebe is their second Lhasa Apso and the only place they'll take her for grooming is Dogs In Suds.
"They are the nicest people. I had a 10-minute conversation with them when I went to pick up Phoebe," Wamsley said. He admitted his wife is usually in charge of the dog's appointments, but he can appreciate the results, too.
"She looks so great and smells so good and they put little ribbons in her ears," he said. "We have a standing appointment, every couple of months."
Dogs In Suds owner Melissa Taylor can attribute customer loyalty to the extensive training she and her employees have had.
Taylor said she is the only nationally certified dog groomer with 100 miles of her shop in Catlettsburg. She got certification in 2004 and describes the training as rigorous.
"You have to demonstrate grooming on nonsporting, sporting, long-leg terriers, short-leg terriers on stage with judges watching," she said, adding there also is a written examination. "You have to know the history of the breeds and why each one is cut the way they are. You have to know all the anatomy of a dog and you're tested on health and safety."
Taylor also is a member of the Kentucky Professional Pet Groomers Association, which is seeking to enlighten the public about the complexities of dog grooming in an effort to someday have Kentucky require certification for dog groomers and guidelines for shops.
"I'd like to see health department inspects with the same standard of care as hair salons," Taylor said. She added she has groomed since she was 15 and groomed her Cocker Spaniel; her neighbor noticed her doing it and offered to pay her to groom their dog. She went on to apprentice for other nationally certified dog groomers. Now, in addition to her business, she grooms for charity, including Ashland Animal Rescue Fund and Tri-State Collie Rescue. She said education for her and her employees is never-ending; she and two of her employees recently attended an educational conference and plan to keep up their learning.
When dogs come to Dogs In Suds, they wait their turns in roomy cages, for their safety and the safety of others. When they're checked in, they're weighed and examined. "If they're heavily matted, I'll do a precut so shampoo can reach the skin," Taylor said.
The bath phase can be performed by two of three of Taylor's employees, Alison Wellman and Erica Meade, both of whom are certified bathers and brushes. At that time, they also have their nails cut and their ears cleaned.
"We use all pet-safe products, designed to be used on animals," she said.
Taylor also employs Rebekah Grafton, who is an apprentice groomer. Taylor's daughter, Hailey Casey, who works at the shop on Thursdays, is a full-time groomer at Barks and Bubbles in Greenup.
There are two types of dryers: high-velocity blow dry and, for those not crazy about being dried, an ambient air cage dryer, which does not use heat.
Dogs who don't need a cut get finishing spray and they're done. For those who require a cut, Taylor takes over and gives them the proper cut for their breed.
The shop has begun a new service: For a small, additional fee, depending on the distance, pets can be picked up and returned by shop employees.
Polly Horn brings her 7-year-old standard poodle from Inez for grooming at Dogs In Suds.
Horn, who travels for work into the Tri-State for work, brings Khloe Ann to work with her anyway, so it's simple to drop her off for grooming.
"The groomers we used before, my dog, as soon as I turned my turn signal on to go to their place, she started crying," Horn said. "I thought I'd try Dogs In Suds and she loves it. She walks right in there and sits in her cage and she doesn't cry.
"And they love Khloe and do a wonderful job and she loves them, too."
Khloe Ann is a good example of how a groomer can help monitor a pet's health.
"The first time, she found an ear issue, so I took her to the vet and I had to medicate her because she had an ear infection," Horn said, adding she would never have realized there was a problem.
Taylor, who belongs to a local Facebook page for groomers, said she and other groomers share helpful information about their profession and avoids competition and conflict.
"Our ethics oath (in Professional Pet Groomer's Association) includes trying to form a community with other groomers," Taylor said. "We can share information about what products and tools work and don't work and new equipment. It's important for the advancement of our industry. We need that cohesion."
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