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From Hairstylist to Dog Groomer

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  • From Hairstylist to Dog Groomer

    As the shih tzu with the red Mohawk demonstrates, some people care deeply about their dog’s grooming.

    “They were Kansas City Chiefs fans,” Robin Benson, owner of A Doggie Boutique, said of the dog’s owners. “It was pretty cute, actually.”

    Benson, who created the daring doggy-do, opened her shop as a one-woman operation about two years ago. Since then she has added two more groomers, a bather and a receptionist. She also has doubled in size, with plans to open a doggy day care in the additional space in coming weeks.

    The shop’s grooming services start at $35 and typically include a bath, haircut, nail trim, and ears and glands cleaning. Benson offers teeth brushing and flea treatment at additional cost, and plans to begin a skunk treatment soon.

    Benson said some clients come from as far away as Dodge City. She seems to have a way with dogs and their owners.

    As she handed a dog back to its owner this week, she delivered some bad news: The dog had misbehaved, even trying to bite the groomer.

    “Why would she do that?” the owner asked, seemingly mortified.

    “Well, have you ever had clippers run down your backside?” Benson replied to laughter. “I try to put myself in their place.”

    That her shop has mirrors resembling those in a beauty shop is no accident. Benson started out as a beautician in Texas.

    After having children, she was looking for a job she could do at home. She had always groomed her own dogs – cocker spaniels back then, a Yorkie and a miniature Australian shepherd now.

    “The next thing you know I’m grooming everybody else’s dogs, and it was wonderful,” she said.

    She continued grooming dogs out of her house after moving to Clearwater about seven years ago. Finally, she and her husband started hunting for a storefront after she got tired of scrubbing dog hair out of their bathtub.

    “Goddard starts with ‘God,’ and dog is God spelled backwards, so we decided that’s where we needed to be,” she said.

    Benson can’t estimate how many different breeds of dogs she’s groomed; with hybrids like the Labradoodle increasing in popularity, the number is likely to rise.

    “Each breed gets a different type of groom,” Benson said. “Some (owners) want the exact style of the breed, and some just want us to shave them off, they don’t want to deal with all that hair.”

    She has groomed cats and even a rabbit, but dogs are the shop’s mainstay. The Mohawked shih tzu might be an extreme example, but more than a few poodle owners have been known to request nail polish for their pets’ toes.

    Benson said she decided to open a doggy day care because many clients need to leave their dogs at the shop all day while they work, or want them to experience the companionship of other dogs. She has fenced in a large yard behind the shop where the dogs will be able to play.

    Benson hopes someday to open a dog grooming school to teach others the trade. She’s happy she made the jump from people to dogs, even though she thinks the latter are harder to groom.

    “I get along with dogs great,” she said. “I get along with people. I get along with a wall.”

    Read more here:
    Coordinators post updates to the message for grooming events, members contests, Classified Ads, GroomerTALK Radio shows and Magazine online.