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The Importance of Being Groomed

Shops Like Art of the Groom Keep Your Dog Neat, Clean and Healthy

Since kids are getting spiffed up for the start of school, why not get the family dog cleaned and clipped by a professional groomer? A good wash, haircut, and nail trim help eliminate summer grime. Plus, a groomer can be a dog's first line of defense when it comes to their health.

Groomer Chrissy Spencer, co-owner of Art of the Groom Pet Salon and Art Studio, says dogs shed skin cells just like people. It's this dander that causes reactions in people with allergies. She recommends washing a dog every three to four weeks since that is how long it takes the skin cells to reach the surface. Not only will this help people feel better, but it also helps pets with allergies keep them in control.

"Nail trims are also very important," she adds. "If nails get too long, the dog can start walking on their nails. Then the nails stab into their paw pads. It can also start changing their bone shape because they can't walk correctly."

Groomers are also skilled at removing mats, which form when a dog's fur becomes tangled and knotted. Spencer notes keeping dogs mat-free prevents hot spots from developing, which are those itchy patches dogs can't keep from scratching. While grooming, she also looks for fleas and ticks and often will notice teeth issues the owner may have missed.

Most importantly, since groomers see clients' dogs more often than the vet, it isn't unusual for them to spot a possible medical issue even before the owner knows the situation. Spencer says, "We can notice small lumps and bruising on the skin, that can be a big health concern. There have been dogs where I've felt a small lump, and the owners came back and told me I saved their dog's life."

Artist Alec Joler is Spencer's partner in both life and work. He spent the past year upgrading the shop's 100-year-old building to ensure the comfort and safety of the canine clients. The spa-like grooming area has dog beds and kennels should a pet need a break to de-stress. There is also a fenced-in backyard for potty breaks.

Joler's studio is in the front portion of the shop. That's where he works on his current projects, including doing commission photos, sketches, and portraits of clients' family pets. His work decorates the walls.

"We figured with her grooming and my art, we could sort of combine the two and turn it into something a little more than just another grooming shop," he says.

Spencer has ten years of experience as a groomer. She has each dog owner fills out an intake form describing the animal's temperament and needs. Then she takes her cue from the dog regarding how stressed they may feel and how quickly she can work. If the dog needs a break, it gets one.

The couple's two standard poodles, Bossa Nova and Rio de Janeiro, are the official shop dogs. They help some dogs calm down when there's stressed. However, if a canine doesn't play well with others, the shop dogs hang out with Joler in his studio.

Joler says, "Chrissy is very shy, so I don't mind being the sort of the front-of-the-house guy. But I'll tell you, I never thought I would co-own a grooming shop. With two poodles. Never in a million years. But I wouldn't have it any other way."

Art of the Groom is located at 1906 Massachusetts Street. Call 785.423.2041 for more information.

Spencer says, "There have been dogs where I've felt a small lump, and the owners came back and told me I saved their dog's life."

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