Mobile grooming salon for feline friends
Agnes Winarti , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Tue, 06/17/2008 10:05 AM | City
True canine lovers usually regard their pet dogs as part of the family. Some even treat them like their own children.
Dog lover Bathsheba "Betsy" Yuligita Sudarmo recalled the day she found bruises around her dog's eyes.
"When I found the bruises, my dog had changed his attitude toward me. He used to be friendly but had become fierce," Betsy said.
"My dog started behaving aggressively after it received treatment at a pet salon," she said, while carefully watching two pet groomers bathe her 3-year-old golden retriever Grizzly on the back of a mobile pet salon car.
A vet told her later her dog had been hit during the salon treatment.
"It was a traumatic experience for me," she said.
Since then, Grizzly has had his treatments in a mobile pet salon at Betsy's home, where she can observe the whole process.
"I don't have to take my car to the salon. It saves me time," Betsy said, adding she used to queue and wait at the pet salon for some three hours.
Veterinarian Maria Theresia Widiastuti said some dog owners have complained that after their dogs had salon baths, they showed changes in behavior, like signs of fear, depression and aggressiveness.
"I never saw any physical bruises, but it is possible those pets received harsh treatment. It is the right of the owner to ask the salon to be transparent about their treatments," said the veterinarian, who has been practicing for eight years in East Jakarta.
A dog lover since childhood, Henny M. Pangadjaja said a similar experience motivated her to establish Happy Pets, a mobile pet salon for cats and dogs, in 2003.
"As a dog lover, I consider my dogs like my own children. So, I don't want anyone beating them," said Henny, who saw her poodles being harshly treated by groomers at her home.
"When I saw my poodle was being hit by the groomer in front of me in my own home, I wondered what they did when I wasn't around," she said.
Henny said she learned about the commitment needed to look after pets from her mother, who once owned more than 20 dogs at the same time that ran around freely in their home.
"They followed her from the kitchen to the bathroom," said Henny, who now owns nine dogs, including poodles, a golden retriever and a Yorkshire.
Henny said she took various pet grooming courses in Singapore to learn how to take care of her poodles.
"Many of my relatives and friends who asked me to help groom their dogs urged me to create my own pet salon," said the 38-year-old at her home office in Lippo Karawaci, Tangerang.
The salon has been through a few name changes; from Beauty Pets, to Chicko Pets (named after one of her poodles) to today's Happy Pets.
Henny currently employs some 30 groomers and administration employees for the salon, which operates with two cars for exclusive treatments and 10 motorcycles for standard treatments.
The Happy Pets mobile salons operate throughout Greater Jakarta by appointment from Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sundays with one week's notice.
The salon currently has about 2,400 customers, including homemakers, young professionals, celebrities, public officials, pet shops and pet-breeding ranches.
"I never thought this hobby of mine would become a business with so many customers," she said, adding some 30 percent of her customers were cat owners and the rest dog owners.
Some of her customers even call her in the middle of the night to seek advice in emergency situations, like dog fights or illnesses.
"I have to repeatedly tell them that I am not a vet," she said.
Henny, however, said many people in Jakarta still consider pet grooming a luxury, not a necessity.
She said most complaints made were concerning prices. Happy Pets standard treatments range from Rp 60,000 (US$6.40) to Rp 100,000, while exclusive treatments range from Rp 150,000 to Rp 200,000, depending on the size of the pet.
Eighty to 90 percent of the equipment and treatment materials are imported from the United States, she said.
However, pet lovers like Betsy do not mind the costs.
"A home treatment for my Grizzly costs Rp 185,000. It is about three times more expensive than the usual pet salon," she said. She usually calls the home pet salon once a month.
Betsy's husband, Hanny Santoso, said he preferred having his dog treated at home because he wanted to avoid transmittable diseases from unhealthy dogs.
"Other pet salons are usually also shelters for pets on sale, so there is no guarantee all the dogs there are healthy," he said.
Henny said, "People should realize that a healthy dog makes its owner healthy. There is a kind of mutual health between pets and their owners."
She said most long-fur dogs, like golden retrievers, which are prone to skin diseases, should have a bath once every two weeks.
Henny also suggested long-fur dogs have their fur combed once every two days to avoid tangles that might trigger skin diseases.
"I do not recommend bathing the pet when it is sick. It should be taken to a vet first," she said.
Henny also said when treating a dog, one must pay attention to its psychological nature, as every dog has different character.