For more than two decades, Bruce Dewbury applied his love of animals and skills with his hands to grooming dogs on the side. Now, the retired gasfitter is getting into the business full-time, joining Village Pet Food Shoppe (now, Village Groomer and Pet Food Shoppe) in the Village Shoppes and Business Centre at 10 Church St. W. in Elmira.
“Three or four years ago I approached Steve (Thur) about starting a grooming business here,” Dewbury explained. “He was interested, but then I moved to Penatang, I was going to retire. But that was a mistake. The theory was good, but it doesn’t work with me. I like to keep busy.”
Set up on the south end of the store with large windows looking out onto Church Street, Dewbury is sure to keep busy. During his first week on the job, a dozen dogs had already come through.
It’s a labour of love.
“I started grooming just for my own dogs, and eventually got involved with the Rosehill Kennel Club,” Dewbury explained. “It’s not rocket science for me, it came naturally. Dogs like me. I’ve never even been bit.”
He continued, “You need to be comfortable with animals. It’s when you show the dog that you are scared of him, that’s when they will bite you. You need to let them know that you are firm, but not ignorant, and you’ll be good.”
Adding grooming services was a natural progression for the business, owner Steve Thur said.
“There really aren’t many grooming options in Elmira. I know a lot of my customers were going to Kitchener or Waterloo with their dogs. So I have wanted to bring in a groomer for a while now, but it was difficult to find the right person.”
Groomers tend to move from store to store, he explained. And Thur wanted to find the right groomer who his customers could build a relationship with.
“I had put the idea on the backburner, until I was in Quebec on a business trip with Elmira Pet Products,” said Thur. “I saw a crowd of people huddled around a window, and it turned out they were watching a groomer. And so I always had that in my mind, that if we add grooming, it should be in a window. That way, it’s like putting a show on all day.”
Fortunately, the Village Pet Food Shoppe happened to have several hundred square feet of unused space with windows on each side, perfect for a grooming set-up.
Enter Dewbury, with his state-of the art dog lift and professional grooming equipment and the pair was off and running.
“My thing was that if I was going to go for it, I was going to do it right the first time,” Thur said.
“It’s a great fit here with Steve. The store has a great customer base of clients who care strongly for their dogs. And I hope to add my experience and knowledge base when it comes to grooming products and shampoos for those customers as well.”