July 2017
Homeplace & Community

Pampered Pets

Greenwood Groomers Enjoy a Growing Business

 

Brandy Champion, left, trained her mother, Peggy Boyette, to groom. The two have over 33 years of experience.

Pet grooming is a business that has grown rapidly in the past 20 years. Owners choose their groomers much like they do their veterinarians. They look for experienced, compassionate individuals who love animals and will take care of their pets.

Brandy Champion and Peggy Boyette are groomers who work in a small business, located in the Greenwood Community between Thomasville and Grove Hill. They provide a valuable service to the people in this area, one that both humans and non-humans appreciate.

Grooming in a rural area is different from grooming in a city. Champion should know; she has done both. She has been a groomer for 17 years. In 2001, Champion opened her own business, just outside Thomasville, calling it Brandy’s Pampered Pets. For many years, it was the largest pet facility in Clarke County. She groomed, boarded and bred dogs with the help of her mother, Peggy Boyette, who apprenticed under Champion.

After Champion moved to Gulf Shores in 2014 to work with a larger firm, Boyette relocated the business to the small, farming community of Greenwood. She bought a comfortable trailer, fitted it with grooming facilities and renamed the business, Pampered Pets. Boyette trained her niece, Renee Gates, and the two ran the successful business. In 2017, Champion returned to help them.

At Pampered Pets, the ladies offer baths, haircuts, ear plucking and grooming of anal glands. They paint toenails, put bows in hair and give each pet its own bandana.

"Grooming not only makes a pet look, feel and smell better," Champion explained, "it also helps to improve their health. People love their babies and want the best for them."

The groomers have alerted owners to potential problems such as ticks, fleas or parasites. They have also identified eye, ear and teeth problems, and made owners aware of inflammation or infections hidden by a dog’s thick hair.

After grooming, Zoey, left, and Bella pose for the camera.

 

Pet grooming is a very physical job.

"People may think we play with dogs all day, but, when an animal gets a haircut, it moves all the time. We also have to hold them up to get their legs. Some of our customers may weigh over 100 pounds. We have to be patient and compassionate, because we never want to hurt them."

Bites, scratches and nips are hazards of the job. In their experience, both groomers have found that smaller dogs are more likely to bite than larger ones. Champion said dachshunds had bitten her more, while more Shih Tzus have nipped Boyette. Both have worked with many pit bulls, but neither has ever had a problem with this breed.

With over 33 years of experience between them, the groomers have learned how to handle temperamental pooches.

"Dogs are really funny about their feet," Champion explained. "Feet are the hardest parts to do."

Unlike customers in larger cities, rural owners typically do not bring their babies in on a regular schedule. For example, working and hunting dogs do not come in as often as other pets. One of their customers brings in his Great Pyrenees each May. The owner knows his dog’s time away from the flock could spell disaster for young lambs, as this area has many coyotes and bobcats. The groomers work to get the dog out as quickly as possible and back on the job. Another owner brings all of his hunting dogs for baths, haircuts and nail clipping after hunting season ends each year. Many other hunters bring their pooches twice a year, to rid them of fleas and ticks picked up in the woods.

Both Champion and Boyette have had some interesting experiences while grooming. Champion told about working with a pooch that had previously been hit by a car. The owners did not take it to the vet, thinking it was not hurt badly. As Champion clipped through the dog’s matted hair, one of the dog’s legs fell out.

"I was literally terrified," she stated. "I had never seen anything like this before!"

The leg had apparently been injured in the accident and later detached into the matted hair. The area had already healed, and the dog had adjusted to using three legs.

Boyette told about grooming one very matted dog. As she came down with her clippers, maggots fell out all over her hand. Unknown to the owner, the animal had an infected area on its hip that needed immediate medical attention.

On a good day, the groomers typically work with 12 dogs. They are busier in the summer than in winter, but their schedules vary each day. In this area, many dogs are outies, outside pooches that roam around more and get dirtier.

Both groomers have special connections to animals. Champion has five dogs of her own; Boyette has three outside pooches. It is not unusual, however, for both ladies to find boxes of puppies or strays on the steps of their business. Boyette said they work many hours to find owners for these puppies.

Boyette is well-known for her rescue work. She has saved raccoons, possums, armadillos and even deer. She told the story of a forester who brought her a tiny fawn that had been caught in a controlled burn. The baby’s three hooves had been burned off, and she was unable to stand. Boyette fed and nursed the fawn for weeks, taking it in a basket to work so she could feed it on a regular schedule. After the orphaned deer regained her health, Boyette released her into the woods.

 

(From left) Groomers Renee, Brandy and Peggy  have over 35 years of experience among them. All three love animals and pamper the many pets who visit.

Boyette told another story of a customer who was willing to rescue an abandoned dog found in the middle of a road.

"The malnourished dog was so weak and matted that it could not even use the bathroom," she said sadly. "I groomed him, and that man with a big heart tried to find the owner. When he could not find anyone, he took the dog to his forever home. He still brings him in for grooming. Their relationship is just so special. It was meant to be."

The groomers feel blessed to groom service dogs. The bond between the owners and these dogs is truly touching. Champion told about a Mastiff that protected its elderly owner, who had seizures.

"The dog was bigger than the owner," Champion said. "She was fiercely protective of her master. However, the dog was very loving and just incredible."

All breeds of dogs come to Pampered Pets. One of their cutest customers is Precious, a little Sheltie, groomed to look like a lion. Perhaps their most unusual customer is a Pyrenees/dachshund mix that looks like a Pyrenees with short dachshund legs.

"We never know what’s going to come in," Boyette said. "That’s why this job is so interesting."

Pampered Pets has many faithful clients who drive as far as 50 miles to bring their dogs. Many say they would not take their pets anywhere else. Champion and Boyette love their customers and appreciate their loyalty.

"At the end of the day, I look at the dogs," Champion said. "They are so cute. It makes me feel good to do what their owners want. That is the real pleasure."

Pampered Pets is located at 25 Baughville Drive in Grove Hill.

Their hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. They have plenty of convenient parking. For an appointment, call 334-830-0521 or 334-830-0523. You can also look for them on Facebook.

 

Carolyn Drinkard is a freelance writer from Thomasville. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..