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Even Dogs Need A Pedicure
The dog salons in the country now are attracting more and more pets as they offer a range of treatments from aromatherapy to pedicure.
What would a veterinary assistant and someone with a degree in international relations have in common? Very little except an uncommon passion for dogs. Two young women, Gauri Apte and Urmila Dabholkar, turned their passion into a business venture and started the first grooming saloon for pets five years ago.

The salon, Tail Waggers, became a trailblazer until six months ago when they got their first whiff of competition. New parlours for pet grooming seem to be the rage in Mumbai. In July last year, Cookkie Khanna, Certified Master Groomer of the New York School of Dog Grooming started Top Dog, a dog spa in South Mumbai. The steady stream of the canine visitors whose owners come knocking at these salons is an indication of how the business is catching on.

From aromatherapy rinses, tick and flea control treatment, ear cleaning, teeth brushing, nail clipping to detangling treatment, these spas cover every grooming need. At Tail Waggers, the prices range from Rs 500 for a simple bath and blow-dry to Rs 1500 for aromatherapy. At Top Dog, treatments come for as low as Rs 50 to Rs 1000.

"How the dog looks is fine but how the dog feels is most important," says Dabholkar. She adds that the exotic dog breeds like St Bernard, Lhasa Apso and the Spitz, are used to cold climates and are miserable in Mumbai's sweltering heat and need occasional rejuvenation.

"At the Tail Waggers, Gauri and I try to make life just that much easier for the dog," says Urmila.

On the six days they are open, the grooming salon, situated in Bandra's Pali village, gets an average of eight to 10 dogs a day. Cats, largely Persians, also visit the salon once in a while

The duo, Gauri and Urmila, started off with an initial investment of Rs 5 to 7 lakh and just broke even a year ago. But one has to constantly reinvest in the business by way of specific clippers for specific breeds to drying machines and the grooming products, says Gauri. "Owners do not bring their pets for snob value alone. There are cases where the owners have grown old and cannot give their pet a bath. They bring their dog to us and are happy with the result," she says.

The toughest problem they face in this business is staffing. Finding trained hands or even people willing to be trained in the profession is a challenge and attrition rates are high as the staff often gets frightened of the dogs and quit.

But glitches or not, the tails are still wagging.
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Posted on : 11/2/2006
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