New service brings pet salon to you

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Christine Rice knows how easy a dog can become uneasy.

"If a dog has to get in a car and go somewhere they don't know, even if it's to the vet's office or to be groomed, they can get nervous," said Rice, herself the owner of three canines. "When there are other dogs around, it can be stressful and hectic to dogs."

That's why, when Rice started the Doggie Distinctions dog grooming business last month, she decided to bring her office to her four-legged clients.

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"I have everything I need here," she said in her trailer, where she washes and trims her furry friends. The "establishment" has an air conditioner, a small tub, a table for the dogs to stand on, a central vacuum system to clean up fallen hair and a multitude of cleaning products and other tools. "I can clean a dog start to finish in a self-contained unit."

Though she attended hairdressing school after high school, Rice spent much of the next few years working in hotel management.

"I didn't find that particularly satisfying," she said.

So when she and her family moved to the area in early 2004, Rice's husband told her to find a job she'd really enjoy.

"I always loved animals, particularly dogs," she said. "I started looking into the pet industry."

In November, she headed to Knoxville, Tenn. to enroll in the Concord School of Grooming.

"I groomed poodles every day for two months!" she said with a laugh.

After receiving her professional dog grooming certification, Rice went to work at a local vet's office. Then she decided to go out on her own.

"While I was in school, a mobile groomer brought her unit by, and that was it," she said.

On Monday afternoon, Rice brought her business to Causey Street, where she went to work on Sherry Byrd's Old English sheepdog, Angel.

"I am so happy that we have a service like (Rice's) in Suffolk," Byrd said. "With my hours, it's difficult to take my dog to a groomer and pick her up."

Aside from working at a local law office, Byrd has an adult mentally-handicapped son, for whom she only recently found a caretaker.

"My son just loves that dog," Byrd said. "When I was trying to work from home, I didn't always have time to take care of Angel."

Last week, she spied Rice's truck in a nearby parking lot.

"I called her immediately," Rice said. "She had the right answers to what had to be done for Angel, like how to clean and trim a sheepdog."

In the trailer, Rice positioned the dog near the window so Angel could see her house.

For more information, call 262-7367.