After moving back to her hometown of Detroit Lakes this winter, Ann Taaffe decided to open up a professional pet grooming business in the home she grew up in.
Taaffe has been grooming dogs for a number of years in many different settings, since graduating high school. She worked in grooming, as she studied her way to a veterinary technician degree and even got some experience grooming for a veterinarian, before deciding that she wanted to branch out on her own and go at her own pace.
"I started out in a corporate grooming environment .... It's just so busy," said Taaffe, adding that she saw how the hustle and bustle of some places she worked was stressful for the dogs.
After moving on to groom at a vet office, Taaffe saw the difference that working one-on-one with the animals really made, and she decided to keep that calm one-on-one environment when she branched out and opened her own grooming business, Pawsibilities.
"I do feel like the quiet environment helps a lot," said Taaffe.
She says a groomer's confidence in their work makes all the difference, and she feels confident she can do her best work in her new setting, the basement of her childhood home.
The downstairs of her home has been completely transformed into her grooming station, complete with a grooming table, a wash basin, and multiple movable kennels, which Taaffe says allows her to accommodate the dogs, like one she grooms that has severe separation anxiety. She says she moves his kennel next to the grooming table while she grooms his buddy, and then he is happy as a clam.
"I can do anything from simple nail clipping, tooth brushing. Even if they don't need a haircut, it can be good to get the hair out in a gentle way," said Taaffe.
She also does all kinds of grooming, from a classic cut and bath, to something known as Asian Fusion, which is a more new age style of grooming that Taaffe says makes dogs almost look like anime characters.
"It's not for every dog," said Taaffe, adding that it all depends on a dog's coat and temperament.
She also has a little pet-safe hair dye to do cute little things, like dying the tips of their ears. Again, she says it depends on the dog.
"I don't like to push dogs at all," said Taaffe.
Taaffe says she also has quite a bit of experience working with different dog temperaments. She makes a point to ask the owner about behaviors or health issues before a groom.
And for the pups who don't get any hair dye - or even those who do - Taaffe adds a little homemade bow or bandana to them as the finishing touch.
"Bandanas I always give for free with the first groom," she said.
After the first bandana, the bows are free. Pet owners can also choose to buy a bandana or bow too, as she makes them in her downtime, and she has a number to choose from, even some festive ones for whatever holiday is nearby. Recently, she made some easter bows.
"I've always crafted, since I was a little kid," she said, explaining how her two favorite things (crafting and animals) go hand in hand. "That I think is just fun."
Pawsibilities has been off to a slow start, since opening in November, which Taaffe says was pretty intentional. She didn't want to take on more than she could handle right away and wanted to make sure her quality of work didn't go down as she gained more clients. Now she says she is ready for more.
"I still have lots of room for more clients, but I'm not looking to have a huge business," she said, adding that she estimates she could take on a total of about 15 or 20 dogs a week, depending on what they need to have done.