Deborah Austin’s customers inside her shop may walk on more than two legs, but make no mistake, she certainly doesn’t think of herself as an ordinary groomer.
âI consider myself to be a stylist,â she said.
Since Austin’s Paw Spa opened to the public on April 1, salon co-owners Deborah and Carla Austin have served more than 100 clients. The client list is eclectic, ranging from pampered Poodles and Pomeranians to brash boxers and beagles – and a feline or three tossed into the mix as well.
What makes this salon special are the tools of the trade used to groom dogs and cats: instead of using an industry standard clipper to mow a Schnauzer, Deborah prefers to wield a pair of scissors.
âTo me, it’s just a lost art that the average person doesn’t take the time to do anymore,â she said.
Mowers, she said, leave soft edges; it can even alter a pet’s hair growth pattern. With scissors, âYou have crisp, crisp lines. You know exactly where you want to cut.
Using scissors also allows Deborah to shape an animal’s coat in different ways. For example, if a client wants her beloved Bichon to have a full breast and proud of her hair, she can easily achieve this by using scissors. She is able to use them artfully to accentuate the dog’s shape or even correct a defect in the animal’s coat.
Clippers, added Deborah, âfollow the contours of the body, so you are only given that contour. You can’t add to that.
In other words, the shape and size of the canvas is limited when using mowers. Indeed, Deborah considers the animals she works on almost as if they are blank webs themselves.
“It’s an art form,” she said of using scissors to groom someone’s beloved pet, be it a young one. German Shepherd or mature Maine Coon cat.
Deborah learned the art of hand grooming – and it’s a dying art, she said – while earning certification from Jan’s Grooming & School in Springfield. There Jan Rook, who has been grooming for over 50 years, formally taught him how to groom pets using clippers and scissors.
âHonestly, I fell in love with grooming by accident,â she said. âI worked part-time in a pet store and I really found that I enjoyed working with animals. “
Seeing the direct results of hand scissors on various cats and dogs, she knew she wanted to specialize in this often forgotten area.
âWhen we opened this salon, it was more of a lifestyle that we try to bring to people. (Some) women are very fond of their hair, their nails, for example, âshe said. âPeople are (also) fanatical about their animals. It’s something that’s very popular in other parts of the world but, quite frankly, hasn’t reached Missouri yet.
The goal is to create a beauty salon experience that humans cherish, but for pets. Dogs and cats dropped off at the salon are washed twice in an oversized tub before each one is hand dried – no cage drying is done here, Deborah said.
âGrownups love baths,â Deborah said, while toy dogs tend to preen during hand drying sessions.
The animals are given water throughout the day and each is individually taken out every hour for exercise. This is done so that they do not become restless during the procedure, which can sometimes take up to three hours.
âI am very patient,â Deborah said with a laugh. âI am not a box store. I’m not trying to get 10 or 20 dogs out every hour. I want to take the time so that each animal (and owner) can have a great experience.
Classical music calls softly from the corner of the room as pleasant scents float in the air, both known to reduce stress on animals. There is absolutely no “animal” smell inside the salon – Deborah and Carla are both obsessed with cleanliness and everything is cleaned between sessions. Deborah said she does five loads of laundry every day.
âI am very passionate about what I do,â she said.
Grooming is essential for the well-being and health of a dog or cat. Science has shown that regular grooming can extend the life of a dog or cat, according to the website PetMD.com.
Deborah and Carla also provide nail services to their clients. Last week, a golden retriever, a beagle, and a boxer brief were brought into the salon for just a bath and nail trimming. And there are donuts and coffee near the entrance for people dropping off their pets for dates.
The living room has two resident cats – Bailey, a gentle cat with pink colored fur, and the Tiger Stripe Tigger. Another specialty they offer is coloring a dog or cat’s fur, and Deborah said it’s all the rage in Japan and China. There is also Sherman, Deborah’s Pomeranian, who rarely leaves her. And neither she nor Carla are strangers to animals outside of the living room – they have nine dogs and three cats in their Joplin home.
âYour pet receives the same care as if you were going to a salon,â Deborah said.
Need a garnish?
Austin’s Paw Spa is located at 116 N. Range Line Road, Suite 105. Prices for a grooming session can range from $ 25 to $ 75, depending on the dog and type of cut. The opening hours of the show are from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.