Pets: Good, Clean Fun for Pets

September 07, 2010 // Franchising.com // Residents of the Reston/Herndon area have several choices when it comes to cleaning and grooming your pet. If a pet wants to be pampered in a low stress environment, there's Dog A Do pet salon. Owned by groomer Kat Brooks, Dog A Do prides itself on the absence of dogs barking, despite the presence of up to a dozen at one time. "This is the kind of environment pets like, where they're not stressed out," Brooks said. Dog A Do only has two rooms, one area that doubles as a reception area and the grooming section, and a back part where the bathtubs are. By keeping the pets all together throughout the grooming process, it helps to take away any apprehension that might come up when the pet associated it with a kennel-like atmosphere. "I'm picky, I don't want people to come in here and say it smells like dog," Brooks said, and despite the close proximity of the grooming area to the reception area, there isn't much of any smell in the shop. No matter if it's a Chihuahua or a German shepherd, the Dog A Do staff know their way around a furry creature. Grooming, besides helping pets look and smell clean, also needs to be done for health reasons. The staff keeps several thick, matted pieces of shorn hair at the front to show customers just how bad a dog's hair can get. It can take five years to train a qualified groomer, Brooks said, which makes her want to hold on to the ones she can find. "I was grooming for several years before I got here, but I've learned a lot of helpful techniques here," said Ryan Gregiore. "Working in some of those pet resort-type places, they look like a vets office, and dogs will react like it's a vet office, which is what we try to avoid." PETS sometimes come and go in trends, and Brooks and her staff have seen them all, from the breed that most recently took home the prize at the Westminster Kennel Club, or the surge in Portuguese water dogs that followed President Barack Obama's selection upon his move to the White House. "I'll tell you, we didn't see much of a surge after that 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' movie though," said Gregoire with a laugh. Brooks tries to keep the laughs coming around her staff, as they believe that pets are especially sensitive to the mood around them, and it's all about making it less stressful. "We have fun here, and I think everyone enjoys coming to work," Brooks said. "That rubs off on both the pets and clients, putting them at ease." For pet owners that really want to get their hands dirty, there's Bark N Bubbles in downtown Herndon. Billed as a self-serve dog wash, they offer the tubs, hoses, soap and brushes to clean any dog, and they'll also gladly clean the dog as well. The upstairs of the shop has five specially made tubs, and a hose, shelves with brushes and bottles of shampoo. Pet owners simply bring their pets in, put them in the tub, and wash away. The tubs are waist high, and can fit the bigger breeds, and staff also offer risers to make it easier to wash smaller dogs. Co-owner Dani Weng opened the business with her business partner Pamela Aheart, a native of Reston, to bring a West Coast trend east. "We'll give them an overview of the process, and any tips on how to wash the certain breed, and they'll just wash the dogs themselves," Weng said. "It's a bonding experience between pet and owner, but it's easier than just using the hose at home. People love their pets, they think of them as family members, and they take very good care of them. " Weng says that about 70 percent of their clients come prepared to do the washing themselves. "It's quite an experience, you get very wet and very furry, and you can't exactly head straight out to dinner," said Lisa Taylor, who has been taking her dogs Denali (a German shepherd mix) and Dakota (a golden retriever) to Bark N Bubbles for a few years. "But it's a nice experience, and I think they like us to wash them." Her daughter Elle added, "others sometimes aren't as caring and loving as we are to our own pets." Weng has always dreamed of owning her own business, and always been a pet lover, so this was a chance to combine the two. "I owned my first dog when I was 10, and it's such a good industry," she said. "I think we've found a great niche here, and the Herndon/Reston community has been so supportive." Bark N Bubbles is also supportive of the community, conducting monthly charity drives where volunteers do the washing, and half the proceeds go to the charity. THEY DONATE to rescue group, as well as other: the July 24 charity wash featured a group that was trying to raise money for October's Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure. Dog A Do also participates in charities, they are currently collecting the dog hair cut off during the grooming process to send down to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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