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Puppy Love Lives On

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  • Puppy Love Lives On

    HOWE – Sometimes, a business is more than just a business.
    Take Puppy Love, a dog grooming business that’s been part of Howe for more than 20 years. That business was started by Shari Haggard, a Mongo woman with a passion for dogs and a talent for grooming. But more than five years ago, Haggard became ill, with cancer, and asked one of her proteges, Wendy Stevens, to step in and take over her business, keep it running.
    And Wendy Stevens did just that, buying the business. And Stevens has been true to her word.
    Puppy Love, 418 Defiance Street in Howe, is booming these days. Nearly 100 dogs from around the area make the trip to Howe each week for a wash, dry and a groom. Haggard died of her cancer, but her memory and lessons she taught Stevens and others about care and compassion for animals live on his her shop. As a matter of fact, Haggard still casts a large shadow inside Puppy Love. One of her groomer’s certificate still decorates a wall near the grooming stations.
    “We haven’t forgotten her,” Stevens said, as she pointed to Haggard’s certificate. “This was her place, and we haven’t changed much in here. It’s been pretty much the same for a long time.”
    This day, Stevens is working with fellow groomer Beth Troyer, a Howe resident, and another Haggard protege. Together the two are taking care of a steady stream of dogs, all in need of a groomer’s touch. Stevens said one of the first lessons Haggard taught them is it’s not just a dog on the table.
    “I think we were trained by someone who not only instilled in us a love for the dogs but for people as well,” Steven’s said as she finishes up trimming the fur of a black Schnauzer patiently standing on her table. “These dogs, they’re not just someone’s pet, they are a part of their family. A lot of our clients are elderly, and their dog is all they have to come home to.”
    Stevens said what set Haggard apart was the ability to master every dog groom technique. That meant that Haggard went on to teach all her “girls” to learn more than just running a set of clippers over a dog, she also taught them the art of the scissor cut, something Stevens said is now a dying art.
    “Instead of just a set of clippers, we were taught to use scissors,” Stevens said. “That’s what sets us apart, we do know how to hand scissor.”
    Stevens said in her time, Haggard was simply one of the best. She even joined a national organization made up of only the county’s best dog groomers.
    “She participated with Groom Team America back in 1990’s. It is a group of groomers who are recognized for her hand scissoring ability. She wasn’t just a stylist, she was an artist, “Stevens continued. “We got a lot of hands-on training from one of the best groomers I’ve ever seen. In her day, she could out groom anybody.”
    All that hasn’t been lost on those who knew Shari Haggard best.
    Recently, Stevens said, Haggard’s husband stopped by the shop just to look around. She said he quickly had tears in his eyes.
    “He said he just wanted to tell us thank you, that this business is her legacy,” Stevens recalled.
    Stevens said every day, the people in her shop work hard to make sure they’re living up to that legacy.
    “I feel that is Shari was here today, she’d smile, because I believe she’d see we’re still trying to run the business the same way she would have if she were standing here in this room. There are still moments we wish she was still here, to answer a question, but I feel like she put a bit of her life into every girl she trained, and every girl she trained is successful,” she explained. “Shari didn’t just love grooming, she loved dogs, she loved dogs. I think if she were here right now, she’d smile and say ‘Job well done.’”
    Coordinators post updates to the message for grooming events, members contests, Classified Ads, GroomerTALK Radio shows and Magazine online.

  • #2
    I once worked at a salon owned by same groomer for 30 years. It was great how loved she was and that made the clientele so much easier to work with.