SWAN VALLEY – Brenda Mitchell opened a dog grooming business this past summer out of her home in Condon. She hopes the local service of bathing, grooming, clipping and trimming will make things more comfortable for the dogs and their owners.
For more than 20 years, Mitchell groomed her own Shih Tzus and miniature Schnauzers.
"I found it was easier for me to do them than for me to get them to a groomer," said Mitchell. "I realized I had a knack for it."
Mitchell worked for the Mission Mountains Mercantile. After it burned down last May, she was talking with Kathy Koors, the owner of Unleashed In The Swan dog boarding.
"I don't know how we even got on the conversation about me grooming dogs but she said there is a need for it here even if it is just to bathe them and groom them," said Mitchell. "I said I hadn't even thought about it. She said think about it."
Mitchell said she gets along better with dogs than with people. "I enjoy spending time with a dog. Grooming it is just as much of a release for me as it is for the animal [when it has mats pulling on its skin or smells bad]. It is something I really enjoy doing."
This summer Mitchell purchased a grooming table and a good clipper. She started word-of-mouth advertising and has already had repeat customers.
"People don't have to drive 100 miles one way or the other to get their dogs groomed and spend hours waiting," said Mitchell.
A typical appointment lasts two to two and half hours and she only has one to two dogs scheduled per day.
"I don't have any distractions from anything else. I can focus on that animal and get it done," said Mitchell. "I take my time. If they get a little jumpy with their feet, I'll do something else until their mind is off of it and then I'll go back. I try to keep it as friendly as possible so they want to come back and see me."
While Mitchell hasn't had any formal training, she is confident she can do what her customer asks.
"Everyone wants their dogs done differently," said Mitchell. "It's not just a standard hair cut for each breed. So far everyone likes what I've done and I'm having a blast with it."
Mitchell offers bathing, grooming, clipping, cleaning the ears and trimming toenails for all breeds of dogs. She does not work with cats.
Right now Mitchell is limited by weight and cannot take a dog that weighs more than 100 pounds. However, in the future she hopes to get a grooming table with a hydraulic lift that would allow her to work with dogs weighing more than 100 pounds.
Mitchell said she is as gentle as possible. She does not sedate and tries to keep it as pain-free as possible.
Brenda Mitchell has been grooming her dogs for more than 20 years. She is excited to offer a service that is not currently available locally and bring happiness to dogs and their owners in the valley.
"I have a lot of older dogs and I've seen how some groomers treat their dogs," said Mitchell. "I try to treat the animal the way I would treat a baby. That way I know they are not going to be mistreated and hurt and they will want to come back."
Mitchell will not groom a dog that bites. While she understands the risk and has insurance to cover it, "I need a copy of shot records including rabies so if I get bit at least I know I'm not going to get rabies."
Mitchell is not an all day care facility for dogs. She expects the owner to pick the animal up when called.
Mitchell is still trying to decide on a name for her grooming business. While she likes the name "Country Paws," she is open to ideas.
Mitchell's ideal schedule would be one dog per day. "I'm not looking to get rich. I'm just looking to make people's dogs a little prettier," said Mitchell.
Mitchell can be reached on Facebook by messaging Brenda Phelps Mitchell or call 406-590-3935 to make an appointment. Prices are determined by the weight of the dog and services requested.