New grooming school in Anoka is a real tail wagger

  • Article by: PAUL LEVY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 3, 2013 - 1:53 PM

A Long Lake pet grooming salon is bringing cutting-edge facilities to Anoka that will train future dog groomers.

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Nancy Wyers gave a haircut to a dog at the Club Mutts “barktique and pet spa” in Long Lake. Club Mutts is also home to a pet-grooming school, Pucci Pet Career Studios, which the owners are moving to Main Street in Anoka.

Photo: Joel Koyama, Star Tribune

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Anoka’s new dog-grooming school is named Pucci, pronounced poochie. If that doesn’t tell you there’s something different about the place, maybe the indoor dog-potty park will — synthetic grass and all.

The enterprise is the offspring of Club Mutts in Long Lake, a dog-grooming parlor that bills itself as an “original barktique and pet spa.” Club Mutts also is home to the Pucci Pet Career Studio, which prepares future groomers and also offers classes for students interested in managing or owning their own pet-grooming franchises.

Now, with business growing, Club Mutts’ owners are moving the grooming school to Anoka, where it’s scheduled to open at 2nd and Main on Dec. 16.

Yes, Anoka is going to the dogs — and the city is welcoming Pucci with open arms and paws.

For dog owners who think grooming is simply wiping mud from their pet’s paws, Pucci offers an imaginative array of pet pleasers with a very long leash. The place will have what seems like everything: state-of-the-art bathtubs, a soundproof kennel room, glass partitions that allow customers to watch their dogs while they are groomed, and that indoor potty park for dogs on the go that need to go.

The business is located in an old bank building, circa 1888, and the original vault serves as the soundproof kennel room. But the secrets to Pucci’s potential success aren’t locked up in a vault. They’re currently on display in Long Lake.

About Club Mutts

Walk into Club Mutts, a converted house that schedules grooming appointments and offers retail canine health products, and meet Amy Peterson, 34, a Pucci student who talks about using the holistic Tellington T Touch and aromatic oils to calm dogs. There’s Elvis, the huskie/golden retriever mix, who is having his considerable tail combed out by Chelsea Daciw, 22, a pet-grooming student from Thunder Bay, Ontario. Another student, Mindy Jackson, 38, was a stay-at-home mom from Cincinnati who moved her family to the Twin Cities “because I love working with animals so much and really wanted to learn to do this.”

“This is one of the few industries that wasn’t affected when the economy crashed,” said Mary Faith Moore, who owns and runs the Long Lake franchise with her daughter, Molly Rosenak. The demand for learning the dog-grooming industry became so great that the Club Mutts owners needed a new facility, Rosenak said.

“The truth is,” said Moore, “pet-grooming schools can’t graduate enough people to fill all the available jobs in this market.”

A growth industry

The pet-grooming industry has actually grown over the past five years, said Moore, who has been doing this in one form or another since 1977.

“Nowadays, the trend is to make grooming your dog part of the family budget,” she said. “It’s part of keeping your dog healthy.”

And don’t be fooled by the amusing high-end names that Moore has given her stores. If it’s a student who grooms a pet, the fee is cut in half.

Ten students and three instructors will groom up to 15 dogs per day at Pucci. The three-tiered dog-grooming program includes classes in dog history, fur, skin, grooming and taking care of equipment. There’s even a class about CPR for dogs.

The entire 600-hour course-load is divided into three ­levels — bathing, cutting and trimming and styling — with a student’s certified skills enhancing with each tier. The total cost of the program is $9,000, plus an estimated $2,500 to $4,000 for equipment kits that the students keep. Most students take six months to complete the program.

“I was going to college for biomedical science,” said Kate Hajicek, 31, of Spring Lake Park, as she tended to the considerable mats troubling Lucy, a big schnauzer. “But this is so much better. I love working with the dogs.”

Other students like Randi McGill, 20, of Buffalo came to Club Mutts on a whim and have fallen in love with the school, the business and the dogs.

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