By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
Fallon Savina and her mother Crystal Vincent are both certified dog groomers through the National Groomers Association and have worked together at Heart to Heart Pet Grooming for 15 years.
Their salon is located at 125 State Street in Bridgeport. Both are dog owners and animal lovers, and this type of business has suited them well.
Just this past summer, however, Fallon wanted to enhance their business by looking for something to add that would separate them from other groomers. She opted to offer a “mobile” unit that would deliver the same door-to-door services as a salon but obviously offer greater convenience. That is how Heart to Heart Mobile Pet Grooming came to be … and it, too, has met with great success!
Fallon explained, “It is perfect for busy people who have time issues. They may have families and work and just don’t have the extra time to run their pets back and forth to the groomer. Those who bring their pets to the salon may not want to wait, so they go home and come back later to pick them up. That makes two round trips, so depending on how far away they live, it can cut into their time and be somewhat inconvenient. This is just ONE advantage of the mobile aspect!”
Here are many others! For instance – just to name a few …. Some dogs get carsick, but when the groomer comes to your door, that is not an issue! Some dogs become nervous when they are taken out of their comfort zone, but with the mobile unit, they can look out the windows and see their ‘home’. It is also less stressful because they don’t have to interact with other animals or become anxious because lots of people are coming in and out. Don’t like dog hair and dirt in your car? Not a problem when the groomer comes to you! Senior citizens, in particular, love the convenience of the groomer coming to them – especially when the weather presents a problem.
“In addition to the convenience factor, it is a clean and safe environment, and dogs get the personal, exclusive, one-on-one attention they deserve,” Fallon added.
She noted that the popularity of mobile grooming has grown in the past ten years and is often preferred by some pet owners.
It is not really more expensive than going to the salon – depending on the services you want.
This was NOT, however, an inexpensive endeavor for the groomer! The cost of Heart to Heart’s mobile unit didn’t quite reach the six-figure mark, but it came close!
“My mobile unit is kind of like a custom RV! It has all the conveniences of a brick and mortar shop. It is well lit, air-conditioned in the summer and heated during cold weather months. It carries its own water supply and hot water tank and generates its own power. The tub is stainless steel, and it is even equipped with hydraulics to help lift especially heavy animals if necessary. It is spacious and 100% self-contained. All I need from the owner is a place to park!” she stated.
Fallon offers the full service – from bathing to conditioning treatment, trimming and filing nails, ear cleaning, teeth cleaning, haircuts of any type, and dogs are blown dry. From start to finish, it takes about an hour or an hour and a half – maximum – depending on the size and condition of the dog and the services desired.
She said the largest dog she has ever groomed was a Great Dane that was about nine feet tall when he stood on his hind legs and put his front paws on her shoulders. “He really towered over top of me!” she said.
In the mobile unit, she can groom any breed of dog up to 100 pounds.
“There are a few dogs out there who are terrified of a stranger and/or a hair dryer,” Fallon admitted. “But I have never had one that I couldn’t talk into accepting me or being blown dry. It may take a little added effort, but we always become friends! From my experience of working in a salon, I think that some pets that may be apprehensive about grooming get along significantly better and are less nervous and afraid with the mobile grooming. Maybe it is because they don’t have to be crated or leave home … or maybe it’s because it is quieter with fewer distractions.”
Even when dogs dislike being groomed, it is a healthy thing to do, she said. “There are several misconceptions out there. For instance, some think that inside dogs don’t need trimmed … but they do. They even need winter grooming because when they go outside in the snow, they will dry faster and stay warmer. Their coats will not function well if they’re not groomed.”
Fallon has years of experience and lots of patience … and she thoroughly enjoys what she’s doing!
Lots of satisfied customers will attest to her professionalism. Many also rave about her care of ‘senior’ dogs; she has a way with older dogs and caters to their special needs.
It’s much like taking an anxious child to the doctor! They are given a sucker when the appointment is over and they feel “all better”! Similarly, Fallon confesses that she is a sucker for bandanas and bows! Pets always leave “primped up” – looking, smelling, and feeling better. She also tries to take pictures and send them to their owners following their grooming … a little extra to “wag about”!
Prices begin at $45, depending on the size of the dog and what services are needed. Appointments are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. She has accumulated many repeat customers but welcomes new ones. Her customer base includes visits in Clarksburg, Bridgeport, Shinnston, Fairmont and Grafton; the travel fee is built into the cost.
Call Heart To Heart Pet Grooming at 304-842-7466. Press 2 to schedule a mobile appointment. She will typically answer the phone unless she is en route but will promptly return your call; please leave a message.