BONNERS FERRY — At the small strip mall between Safeway and Conoco, both pets and their owners can get salon pampered. Dirty Dog Salon, LLC has recently opened up its doors next to Mane Street Hair, so while the fur baby gets a haircut and nails done, so can their owner, taking a salon day to the max.
Cheyenne Bennett began her journey as a CNA for about a year, working between Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint, where she decided that career path wasn’t what she was looking for long term. Bennett then worked as a receptionist for a time before getting in contact with Selkirk Kennels, where she was encouraged to look into grooming.
“I grew up with animals, so it was hard not having them all of the time,” said Bennett.
The first dog she groomed was her parents dog, which is an Australian shepherd.
Bennett went to school in Sandpoint at the Pooch Parlor, where she learned the ins and outs of grooming. It took her about three months and a couple hundred dogs to complete the course.
“You learn lots of stuff and see lots of dogs,” said Bennett. “I probably groomed about 300 dogs. You see all sorts of dogs.”
One of the things Bennett learned first was about double coated dogs. They have a soft underlayer and a coarser outer layer of fur, which keeps the dog cool in the heat and warm in the cold weather. Keeping a double coated dog brushed out keeps the majority of the hair off clothing and furniture. If the dog is not bathed regularly or is not dried properly after a bath, the animal may smell, and in extreme cases, the underlying coat may retain the moisture and mildew or cause infection.
Knowing the dog breeds and the proper care for their coats, whether it be a double coated dog like a Husky, or a thin but long haired Shih Tzu, makes a difference in the overall dogs health.
Keeping a dog’s nails trimmed can pose to be a challenge, especially to the do-it-yourself dog owner. Having a professional trim the dogs nails may help keep them from being anxious or having a bad experience, which can make it very difficult for future trims. It may seem like grooming a dog is a walk in the park, but it falls in line with cutting one’s own hair instead of visiting the salon — there is a right and not so right way of going about it for the best results.
“I was just going to start a grooming business without going to school. I was going to wing it, but Wendy (from Selkirk Kennels) told me I should go to school,” said Bennett. “At the school, there was so much to learn. It was crazy.
“There was a lot about aggressive dogs that are always trying to bite you, so learning how to deal with that,” she continued. “And clipping nails, you never know how a dog is going to react. My own dogs are horrible with nails.”
After looking for places to rent for the business in the area, Bennett landed in a space in the building occupying Mane Street Hair, on McCall Street. After replacing the flooring, her husband built fencing for the inside, some kennels for waiting dogs, and one to separate the grooming area from the receiving area.
One of the things she feels sets her apart from some other groomers out there, is that a lot of groomers try to rush through, which is something that agitates the animal and may create an accident.
“I take my time, I don’t try to rush through the session,” said Bennett. “I just go slow and try to work with the dog, kind of bond with them instead of just rushing through.”
That builds trust between groomer and dog, making each session easier on both.
There is a new fad going about the grooming world, and that is dying the fur of one’s pet. There are a variety of pet-safe, wash out dyes, that pet owners have shown an increased amount of interest in. Bennett has plans to offer the service, and has some pet-friendly dyes coming in that she plans to experiment with on her own golden retriever.
“I had a customer come in when the (dying) fad came out asking if I had color,” said Bennett. “That was the first person that asked me that. I think it is fun, people dye their hair, why can’t a dog?”
Bennett strives to keep the shop clean and odor free. She cleans and sanitizes after every appointment.
“That was my biggest thing when I opened up shop, I wanted people to be able to walk in here and not have to like run outside because of the smell,” said Bennett. “Sometimes the dogs in waiting potty and it doesn’t get cleaned right away. I always try to keep it smelling good in here. I try to keep it as clean as possible.”
With a clean environment and a patient hand, the Dirty Dog Salon brings another pet grooming option to Bonners Ferry.
Dirty Dog Salon is located at 6451 McCall St. Unit C, 208-267-6540, or they can be found on Facebook under Dirty Dog Salon.