Feeling dog-gone good

Bow Wow Station & Spa offers massages for pets

Bow Wow Station & Spa offers massages for pets

July 28, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

They get frequent phone calls asking how much they charge for massages, but the question that follows comes as a surprise to some.

"What kind of dog do you have?"

Deana Hendershot, 30, of Hancock is a certified pet massage practitioner and is co-owner of Bow Wow Station & Spa in Hagerstown. She said sometimes people are interested in buying a massage for themselves, but don't realize the business Hendershot owns with Elisa Harpster, 28, of Hagerstown, has gone to the dogs - and cats.

Hendershot and Harpster met about three years ago while working at a local dog grooming business. They became fast friends, and soon began talking about starting their own business.

"Between us we probably have about 15 years in animals service," Hendershot said.

Hendershot and Harpster describe themselves as "animals lovers" and "big supporters of the Washington County Humane Society."

They own five pets between them, and Harpster adopted her dog - a Chihuahua mix - from the Humane Society.


The pair had common interests in providing a safe, clean facility for animals to be groomed. Then, in February, they opened Bow Wow Station & Spa in Hagerstown. They offer full service grooming for cats and dogs, additional grooming services, pet massage, pet party planning and other services.

Pet massage

Last week, KoKo, a 7-year-old Bichon Frisé, was scheduled to be groomed, and also took time for a half hour relaxing massage with Hendershot.

With quiet ambient music playing in a dim room, Hendershot began to rub the dog from front to back. Soon KoKo laid down, and Hendershot continued with the massage.

The soothing music is more for herself, Hendershot explained.

"It's my energy the (animals) are feeding off of," she said.

Pet massage can be used for medical purposes for those dogs with chronic hip problems, or other injuries, Hendershot said. Bigger dogs often get hip problems that can be helped by massage, she said. It also can be helpful to relieve stress in dogs that are high-strung or have anxiety.

Hendershot decided to become certified in pet massage after her own dog - a Dalmatian named Chocolate - began to suffer from arthritis.

"Medicine was not working," she said. "And dogs have had extraordinary results with massage."

Hendershot said a poodle with a slipped disc had one massage appointment and just a few days later the dog was running and jumping again. Doing a 15-minute massage at least once every six weeks has kept the dog off pain medication.

Hendershot said pain medication can be dangerous for animals.

"(The dog) was on so much pain medicine," she said. "At that point dogs could hurt themselves but not know it."

Harpster is not a certified pet massage practitioner, but is training under Hendershot. The pair said some pet owners are even interested in receiving some instruction on how to massage their pets at home.

At Bow Wow Station & Spa, animals also receive a massage while being bathed.

"We use some of the (massage) techniques for that," Hendershot said.

Other services

Massages are typically done at the end of an appointment, which typically last no more than four hours, after the dogs have been groomed and bathed, Harpster said. Harpster and Hendershot said they want the last memory a pet has of a visit to Bow Wow Station & Spa to be the most positive.

A full-service grooming includes a bath, dry, toenail cutting, desired clip or trim and cleaning. Both owners said they use only natural products on the animals.

Baths are done by Hendershot and Harpster, or can be done by the owners in what they call a "self-suds station." The tubs are industrial sized and elevated 2 feet from the floor. Each tub has a ramp allowing the dogs to walk in themselves and a loop to keep the dog securely in the tub. Bow Wow Station & Spa provides the shampoo and all other bathing necessities, and owners can simply rent the equipment for $8 for small dogs up to $15 for extra-large dogs.

Harpster said they do get requests for specialty hair cuts for the dogs. One of the most popular, she said, is a mohawk.

Additional grooming services also are available, including medicated shampoos, tooth brushing, "pet-icures," "shed-less" treatments, natural flea dips and flea-preventative applications.

Skunk odor removal also is available. After all, dogs sometimes tangle with the wrong wildlife.

"It happens," Harpster said. "Trust us, it definitely happens."

If you go ...

What: Bow Wow Station & Spa

Where: 18212 Oak Ridge Drive, Hagerstown

Contact: 301-393-5333

Services: Full service grooming, pet massage, pet party planning, self-service dog-washing station and additional grooming services.

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