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Grooming business marks 20th year in Waynesboro

February 17, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Barkley, a big, old, friendly yellow dog, had a habit, whenever he got off his chain, of ambling down the block to see what was happening at the Dogpatch Grooming parlor on Harrison Avenue.

Until he died recently, Barkley was one of Freida Bowling's customers.

Bowling runs the pet-grooming business in the basement at 209 Harrison Ave.

This year marks her 20th anniversary in the pet-grooming business.

"Whenever Barkley got loose he would come down here," Bowling said. "He'd come inside and sit in that chair all day and watch. Then I'd take him to his home on Commerce Street and hook him up to his chain. If he wasn't home, his owners would call me because they knew he'd be here."

She said Barkley's owners brought him by the shop on the day he was taken to the vet to be put down, "so I could say goodbye."

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Over the years, she has groomed some of the same dogs from puppyhood to old age, she said.

An animal lover, Bowling said it was a natural move to open a grooming parlor. She handles all kinds, from toy breeds on up. She also cleans their teeth.

Bowling designed a raised bathtub to wash the dogs. She picks up the small ones, but the larger breeds walk up a carpeted ramp to the tub. She devised a sling-like apparatus to pick up arthritic older pets who can't make it up the ramp.

The tub comes in handy for full-immersion flea baths. There is also a separate room she calls her "flea room" to isolate dogs infected with fleas until they get to the bath.

She said she has a way with animals that keeps her from getting bitten, although two muzzles, one small, one large, hang on the wall within easy reach.

"I just put my head against their head. It shows them that I'm not afraid, that I'm their friend," Bowling said. "I talk to them and do a lot of cuddling. I rarely get bit and if I do it's usually just a nip. It happens when you try to pick them up."

There was only one dog that she was unable to handle in 20 years in the business, she said. "It was a cocker spaniel. He wouldn't even let me touch him. I called his owner to come and get him," she said.

Bowling said she averages about 30 dogs a week. It takes up to a couple of hours to groom a dog, depending on size and the condition of its coat.

It's harder to groom cats, she said. "They get mean. A lot of groomers don't do cats."

She puts a mask over cats' heads to cover their eyes. "If they can't see they can't bite," she said.

As added insurance she wears a pair of heavy leather welder's gloves when she has to take on a cat.

One customer brought in a mouse to get its toes trimmed and once a parakeet was brought in for the same treatment, she said.

On Monday afternoon, Bowling had just finished a shampoo and trim on Fluffy, a 10-year-old, bouncy white toy poodle who left with a Valentine's Day scarf around her neck and ribbons in her ears. She belongs to Martha Hough, Bowling's sister. Fluffy had trouble containing her joy when Hough came in the shop to pick her up.

Bowling said she learned grooming from local friends in the business. She keeps up with developments and trends with refresher courses. "You can always learn something new," she said.

The grooming parlor is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and nights by appointment. The phone number is 717-762-1474.

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