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Pet care shops have canine-do attitude

Dogs are everywhere — it’s part of Hood River’s charm.

In keeping with that, the community has no shortage of places to take your dog for grooming or a wash.

Three such canine salons exist, all on the Heights:

n Gifted Grooming, 1082 Tucker Road, next to Good News Gardening; 541-386-2446

n Gorge River Dogs, on 12th Street near Belmont, next to Ten Speed Coffee, 541-399-4312

n Perfect Paws Pet Grooming, 1305 Taylor Ave. (at 13th Street), 541-386-1255

Gifted Grooming is actually three businesses sharing the space, owned by founder Nita McDougall (who now runs Mama Nita’s restaurant on the Heights).

They are Mike Tabor, Orchard Dog Grooming; Kristen Pierce, Happy Hydrant; and Colleen Mason, Dolce Dog. They get a lot of help from assistant Kevin Johnson, and they do cats in addition to dogs.

The three independent contractors work together to run the business, and business has been busy.

“You have to love dogs. And we all do,” Tabor said. “We’re all pet owners.”

“There’s a really good satisfaction that you’ve done a good job for somebody,” Pierce said.

They do grooming, haircuts, baths, nails and ears, and also provide a self-service wash that is available when the staff is on hand.

“We have everything out there; we’ll go out and show them everything,” Tabor said. “Bring your dog, make a mess and we’ll go clean it up.” Call ahead to make sure the bath area is available.

Mason noted that Gifted Grooming loves to care for rescued dogs, and first grooming for them is free or discounted.

Gifted Grooming is open 9 a.m. “to whenever the last dog leaves,” usually 4-5 p.m.

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Perfect Paws owner Eileen White has 27 years’ grooming experience, and she accommodates large dogs. Her hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

White said what sets her apart is “Many years of training.

“I’m 50 now and I started when I was about 18. I have two Bachelor of Science degrees and I’ve had that time to learn and work with animals in the most humane way. I can even tell some helpful tips that people might not even know:

“First, if you have a dog and they are really scared about coming to be groomed and the owner keeps telling them ‘It’s okay, it’s okay.’ The way the dog processes it, is they think that they’re nervous but it is okay to be scared because that’s what my owner is telling me.

“It’s the same thing with nail trimming. The way to do it is to hold the dog when it starts but if they jerk back you must make a loud buzzer noise and say something like ‘stay’ or ‘no.’ I tell people they’re going to look crazy but the more that happens the dog will realize that jerking back is a bad thing if the ‘buzzer’ keeps sounding off.”

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The concept behind Gorge River Dogs, a Self-Service Dog Wash, is simple: Just bring in your dog, and owner Rhonda Marlnee provides the rest.

The tubs are waist-high to eliminate back and knee pain, with steps for the dogs to walk up (although, Marlnee pointed out, some dogs just prefer to jump in). She provides aprons for the humans and towels for the dogs, as well as shampoo, conditioner, combs and a selection of colognes.

She stocks specialty shampoos and conditioners to treat itchy skin or to deodorize skunk spray. She even has a special room with professional dog-grooming dryers. And, of course, there are treats for afterwards.

“A lot of people refer to my dog wash as a doggy spa,” said Marlnee.

And business is booming. “It’s going very well. I’m very excited. My customers tell me, ‘I’m so glad you’re here, thank you so much.’

“I want people to know that washing the dog can be fun and that it’s very convenient,” said Marlnee. “When they leave, they leave the mess with me.”

Gorge River Dogs, a Self-Service Dog Wash, is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

(Intern Katie Tolbert assisted with this article.)

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