Groomer Takes Bite Out Of Pet Care Biz

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Local pet groomer Tracy Carmean doesn't like to discriminate, but give her a Golden or Labrador retriever any day.

"They're probably the best behaved breeds," said the owner of Rim Country Pet Salon. She declined to identify the breeds she considers at the opposite end of the behavior spectrum.

"Actually, most dogs are pretty good, and there aren't any I won't do. But there have been a few ...," she said, her voice trailing off.

Carmean, who was born and raised in the Valley, moved to the Rim country 14 years ago. She began her grooming career at Furry Friends before opening her own business.

Over the years, Carmean has learned a lot about dogs, which make up the vast majority of her clientele.

"I talk to them all the time," Carmean said, "but then I talk all the time anyway. Dogs definitely have distinct personalities, and it doesn't always go along with the kind of dog they are."

Carmean has developed her own variation of the pop psychology phrase, "I'm OK, You're OK," for dealing with dogs.

"I tell them all, 'It's OK, it's OK.' It's a phrase that dogs always seemed to react positively to," she said.

While Carmean spends more time in the company of dogs than the average person, she doesn't pretend to understand how their minds work.

"I found that it's a lot easier to work 'on' animals than 'with' animals," she said.

Proof that she doesn't have all the answers lies in the fact that she's been bitten a few times.

"Not very often, but it does happen once in a while," she said.

There are some seven dog grooming businesses in town, and each charges about the same. If you want your dog to get "the works," you can expect to pay about $30.

"That includes a bath, the toenails, the pads, everything but the coat and face," she said. "Just a bath is $22. The big dogs with heavy coats that are more time consuming cost more than the smaller ones," she said. The most expensive: Samoyeds, who, Carmean explains for the uninitiated, are "big, white, furry dogs."

If you prefer to bathe your own pooch, Carmean says you should try to do it every six weeks.

"There are all kinds of dog shampoos, and we use one that's tear free," she said. "But people shampoos are OK too."

Carmean does get other animals on occasion usually cats.

"Most often, people bring their cats in to get their nails done," she said. "They normally take care of themselves fairly well, but we have to shave a cat occasionally that's all matted. When that happens, it's best to just remove the hair."

While some pet groomers are more comfortable with animals than people, Carmean professes to like both. But she does have some friendly words of advice for pet owners.

"Be sure to communicate with your groomer," she said. "I had a woman get upset with me the other day because I shaved her dog's belly hair. It's something we normally do for sanitary reasons. She said, 'It's beautiful with that hair. It's the way God made them.' Finally I just had to say, 'I'm sorry, but I can't put it back.'"

Having said that, Carmean does not subscribe to the notion that you can trust animals more than people.

"I got attacked by a cat once that I wasn't even grooming," she said. "It put me out of commission for a couple of weeks. You can't always trust animals, either."

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