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Grocery-groomer enough for a dog's day afternoon

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  • Grocery-groomer enough for a dog's day afternoon

    With the recent dog food recall, pet-owners have started worrying more about what exactly they’re feeding their furry friends.

    But since the opening of Dharma Dog Pet Grocery and Dog Wash on Cambridge Street, Winchester residents no longer have to worry -- now there’s a place to purchase safe, nutritious food for their dogs and cats.

    Chad Castro, who owns the pet store with his wife, Lisa, said Dharma Dog's location next to Whole Foods is no accident.

    “It’s the same concept as Whole Foods,” said Castro. “Better value and more wholesome products.”

    He explained that Dharma Dogs carries pet food made by small independent providers that cannot produce the quantities necessary for large grocery store chains. The brands include Honest Kitchen, the only pet food made in a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) supervised human facility, and Nature’s Variety, the brand that comes closest to the food dogs would eat in the wild.

    “These are strong, independent brands that want to remain that way,” said Castro. “I’ve done a lot of research on the brands we carry and not one has been touched by the recall. These brands are better nutrition and comparably priced.”

    Along with healthy pet food, Dharma Dogs also offers a non-intimidating self dog wash for animals wary of scrub-downs from strangers. But for pet owners who want to steer clear of muddy animals, Dharma Dogs also has a professional dog groomer on call.

    “People bring in their dirty dogs and can wash them themselves if they choose,” said Castro. “We put a nice scarf on the dog everyone goes out looking and feeling a lot better.”

    Or, if the scarves aren’t to the dog’s liking, pet owners can choose from an array of dog collars and leashes, with brightly colored cupcake and nautical designs and stripes (Dharma Dogs updates the products every season).

    The collars and leashes come from small independent stores such as California-based Bella Bean Couture and New England’s Owen and Olivia. “This is stuff you’re not going to find anywhere else,” said Castro.

    Dharma Dogs also offers plenty of treats to cure bad dog breath or help older animals with their joints. Along with being healthier than the treats found in grocery stores, Castro said that pets tend to find them tastier than what’s commonly found on the market.

    Castro said he first found inspiration for Dharma Dogs from his own two-year-old pet, Oliver, a Portuguese Water Dog.

    He used to worry about pet food quality and said that Oliver was always muddy. “He was a mud magnet and we needed an easier, more convenient way to bathe him,” he said.

    Castro and his wife decided the area needed a Dharma Dog (these types of stores are already popular on the west coast, he said). He had also always wanted to do something fun and entrepreneurial and decided this was his chance.

    “This is a new concept and it’s new to the area,” said Castro. “And there’s a real need for it.”
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