Second career brings grooming dream to life

Published on Sunday, 1 December 2013 23:52 - Written by EMILY GUEVARA

As a child watching dog shows, Gloria Reeves started dreaming about her future.

I “would think, ‘Man, if I could ever do that, that would be the neatest,’” she said.

Eventually, she did accomplish the goal of showing dogs and moved on to another one — dog grooming. For years, she thought about, but didn’t do anything. She had a full-time job and the timing wasn’t right.

But upon retirement, and with the encouragement and help of her husband and daughter, she launched a business, and today is living her dream.

“I’ve always enjoyed animals, especially dogs …” Mrs. Reeves, 61, of New Harmony, said. “And it’s just always been something I always thought would be very interesting and fulfilling.”

For the past seven years, she’s owned and operated Kritter Kutz, a mobile pet grooming service.

Traveling around the region in her Chevrolet Silverado with a 6-by-10-foot trailer on the back, she pulls up to houses, retrieves the dogs from the inside or the backyard and sets about her business.

Within a couple hours or less, she’ll have the dog cleaned and cut, if necessary, then returned to its home.

That’s possible because of the retrofitted trailer she uses. Her daughter, Jennifer Reeves, who also works with her, has a retrofitted van she uses.

Inside of the trailer is everything Mrs. Reeves needs to groom a dog, including 60 gallons of water, a 60-gallon drain tank, air conditioning/heating, blow dryers, vacuums and a bathing beauty, which is a professional power dog wash system.

Multiple shelves added by her husband hold a variety of brushes, combs and clippers. A clipper vac allows her to cut the dog’s hair and simultaneously vacuum it up.

Her daughter’s van is equipped in much the same way, but has a few more added features.

The business is a second career of sorts for Mrs. Reeves.

Raised in Tulsa, Okla., she married and moved to Jacksonville after a stint at a technical school in Oklahoma.

Once in Texas, she worked a variety of jobs before settling in at the Smith County Tax Office where she stayed until 2005 when she retired after 20 years of service.

She always had an interest in dog grooming. In the early 1970s, she and a friend of hers did dog obedience training and some grooming.

She and her husband, Jim Reeves, are both dog lovers and had talked about dog grooming. So, once she got closer to retirement, he told her that if she wanted to open a business, the time was right.

She decided to go for it and attended Texas All Breed Grooming School in Arlington for three months. During that time, her husband ordered a trailer that was outfitted for pet grooming.

When she finished her schooling, they picked up the trailer and the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2006, they launched the business.

The services offered are tailored to the needs of the dog and it’s owner. In general, though, there are three options available: the bath and brush, the full service groom and the special cuts, according to the website.

The bath and brush includes a bath, dry and brush, along with ear cleaning, shaving of the pads and trimming of the nails.

A full service groom includes the bath and brush plus any breed-specific groom, such as those for cocker spaniels, poodles and schnauzers.

A special cut includes the bath and brush, plus any cut other than a breed-specific one such as a shave down or lion cut, according to the website.

She’s even done a few mohawks for clients. They groom pets of all sizes from a Maltese to a Great Pyrenees.

Mrs. Reeves said her pricing is competitive with other groomers, although she does charge a travel fee for taking the time to drive to the pet owner’s house.

Shonda Darr, 37, of Tyler, who is self-employed, has used Mrs. Reeves’ services for about a year. Ms. Darr has two dogs, a 12-year-old standard poodle named Peyton and a 7-year-old Rottweiler named Daisy.

Mrs. Reeves bathes Peyton once every three weeks and cuts him once every six weeks. She bathes Daisy once every six weeks.

“She is wonderful,” Ms. Darr said of Mrs. Reeves. “One, is it’s convenient for us with our busy lifestyle. Two, she does a great, great job, probably one of the best ones. And the best thing about it is whenever the dogs see her … they go crazy because they’re so excited.”

Between 75 and 100 people use her services with some of them having multiple dogs.

The business is a family endeavor with Mrs. Reeves’ daughter, Jennifer, also having her own clients.

Ms. Reeves, 27, started helping her mother with the business while she was in college and started working with it full-time once she graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a degree in agribusiness in 2010.

“The thing that really made me want to do it was the relationship that we have with our clients,” she said. “You really just you become part of their family. They tell you things about what’s going on in their life and you tell them things about what’s going on in your life. We’ve become really good friends with all of them.”

Mrs. Reeves said she would like to continue for at least five more years, but her daughter plans to carry it on after that.

She said the experience has been a rewarding one and one that demands skill on her and her daughter’s part.

“It takes an eye, I think, to be able to see what looks good and be able to create that,” Mrs. Reeves said. “It’s not just getting out there with some scissors and cutting the dog. It takes a little bit of something.”