Thanks to parents who encouraged a love of animals, Leslie Rosales woke up every morning to a chorus of whinnying horses, yapping dogs, mewing cats, and squawking chickens. Trimming the long locks of her stepmother's brood of cocker spaniels, Leslie quickly picked up grooming and animal-whispering skills. Over the course of a lengthy career as a vet tech, she grew fed up with what she considered poor treatment of pets, so she started her own grooming shop with a bankroll of just $400.
Years later, Leslie sold that shop and attempted to retire, but her clients prodded her to return to her beloved profession. Now, she can gaze across Pawcasso's Academy of Animal Arts’ open floor plan, which also allows pet owners to see firsthand what happens during grooming sessions. First-time sessions take a bit longer, Leslie warns, because she monitors the dog's reaction to each new touch. She clips a nail or two at a time or allows the scissors to lop off a few curls of hair around one ear, before stepping back to reward the dog with praise and love. The process eases pooches into the session and test’s each animal’s mood, much the way one dips a toe into a chocolate fountain to make sure it's warm enough to jump into.
Leslie expertly eradicates plaque and tartar from doggies' biters with a method free from anesthesia, and she whips up baked goods to help dogs celebrate birthdays or achievements in housebreaking. She also makes fresh food for dogs allergic to the standard canine diet of commercial pet kibble and mailman tears. The salon's Poop Patrol travels to clients' homes to clear outdoor areas, delivering food if desired and leaving a gift of home-baked goodies for Fido.
Stephanie Gau has loved dogs all her life but it wasn't until she discovered Meatlovers, the nutrient-rich organic dog food used by police departments, that that the idea to open her own business took shape. Meatlovers wasn't a new concept, as the company had been around since the invention of dogs in 1949, but Stephanie, who had worked in law enforcement, felt she could combine the time-tested food with other products and services and her passion for canine care.
Today, the dog lover packs her shop with locally made goodies waiting to fill the stomachs of man's best friends. She works with the local Yellow Dog Bakery to outfit canine chompers with treats such as birthday cakes, pupcakes, and decorated cookies. Stephanie also educates customers on proper dog nutrition, while Waggles—the store's dalmatian mascot—attends local events at dog parks and garden shows.
In addition to the retail shop, Stephanie and her team groom pups and run a boarding center. Unlike most kennels, Tail Waggers' crew doesn't keep their furry friends inside crates or cages. Instead, canines spend nights in doggy hotel rooms and days in a play area, where they can bounce and play cribbage with other dogs between regular trips outside.
During her many years as a pet groomer, Tina Bebee witnessed grooming methods that filled her with dismay. In 1991, she decided to open her own grooming shop, naming it in a way that made its specialty clear. From a basic nail trim to a full bath with shedding treatment, each session is performed by caring mane tamers, and Gentle Pet Grooming's managers oversee and check the work of all groomers-in-training. When possible, dogs are paired with the same groomer at each visit to establish a loving bond and make the experience more pleasant for tender-headed mutts.
At Four Paws Spa, groomer Laura hides nothing, preferring to wash, trim, and pamper pups where everyone can see them. She beautifies every canine that walks through the door and ensures all clients leave the business free of excess hair, fleas, and bad attitudes. The spa's services run the gamut and include shedding treatments, nail trimming, anal-gland expression, and fur coloring for all breeds and sizes. Four Paws also reaches out to less-pampered dogs in the area, working with local no-kill shelter the Pet Adoption League.