FAIRHAVEN – After being away for two years, Mattapoisett’s Kylie Panek is back on the South Coast with the goal of making the dogs as happy as possible.
“I love working with animals. I have worked with animals all my life,” said Panek, 27, owner of 12-legged pet lounge in Fairhaven. “Something to make them cute, make them feel better and see the owner’s reactionâ¦ Love that.”
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Panek, a native of Mattapoisett, began his career with horses, training, breeding and trimming them for shows. She then moved on to dogs.
“Dogs are more fun because I can do a lot more different creative things where horses are a bit like general grooming.”
In 2013, Panek graduated from Animal Behavior College, an online dog grooming certification program that required him to work 100 hours at a local groomer. She then worked in the area for six years, building a reputation for her expertise in dog grooming.
Connection with dogs
Panek says she also enjoys connecting with animals on a psychological level. âI’m all about animal behavior. It’s very rewarding,â she said. âHonestly, some people don’t have the patience or want to spend the time doing this. I love that stuff.â
Panek recalled working with a small dog who needed a muzzle when she started working with him due to his severe anxiety.
“He would come to me every four weeks, and I couldn’t even touch him, he was just trying to eat me, biting me, panicking, he would have an accident, he was horrified.”
Over time, Panek was able to connect with the dog to the point that she could remove her muzzle and they would have a more friendly interaction. “It just takes a little patience to gain the dog’s trust.”
In 2019, Panek moved to Scituate to pursue a pet grooming opportunity. However, during her two year absence, she began to regret the camaraderie of the South Coast.
âIt was kind of like, ‘Well, here’s my dog. Make him look cute.’ Drop it off and go, âPanek admitted.â And then people here are more like, ‘Oh my god. It’s so good to see you. How are you ? My dog ââis so excited. ‘
âI missed the people of this region.
In September, Panek returned to the Fairhaven area and opened his grooming business near the Mattapoisett line at 416 Huttleston Ave. She said she immediately started booking clients.
“When I came back to the area, I got a lot of my old clients back.” she said, adding that some of the dogs remembered her instantly.
Increased demand for groomers
Panek believes there are more dogs than groomers available in the tri-city area of ââMarion, Mattapoisett and Rochester. âA lot of people also had puppies during COVID-19, because they were at home. It’s like a really big thing,â she said.
In a USA Today article, according to Number of animals in the refuge, a non-profit organization that helps share data about shelter animals, the pet adoption rate was 73% during the pandemic, up from 64% in 2019.
Twenty percent of respondents to a Nielsen survey in July 2020 said they adopted one or more dogs or cats between March and June, up from less than 5% compared to the same period in 2019.
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In the two months of opening, Panek says she has groomed 100 dogs already and is making an appointment two weeks in advance.
Panek prefers to work solo so that the dogs are not overwhelmed. âI have worked in other grooming shops which have been very busy and hectic,â she said. “And I find dogs don’t like it, it’s almost too stressful for them.”
However, Panek is never alone.
At 12 Paws Pet Salon, she is always accompanied by her three dogs (the “12 legs” referenced in the name of the salon). Kody, 10, and Kane, 4, are black labs and Kash, 6, is a chocolate lab.
âThey lay on my feet while I was grooming,â she said. “So I have to stand on top of them and they are still covered in hair.”
Panek says she likes dogs to feel better. Besides cutting hair, she wants to make her doggie clients as happy as possible. She even specializes in palm massages.
“When they come in they get mad … and when they get home they are all relaxed and happy. And they feel so much better,” she said.
“I’m happier when dogs are happier.”
Standard-Times writer Seth Chitwood can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.