PORT ORCHARD — The Groomery in Port Orchard has one mission — to make every dog and cat happy, healthy and beautiful.
And owners Traci Penland and Tonia Baker have made Port Orchard’s community of pets look and feel that way for the last 12 years.
“Tania and I have been doing it for about 35 years,” Penland said. “For Tania, it was a family business, her aunt did it. I started when I was 14. It was something I could do at such a young age while living on my own.”
Penland’s brother and mom also groomed dogs and cats, which is how she learned the trade. The pair eventually opened their own business before moving from Bay Street to its current location on Delkab Street in May, expanding from 1,100 to 2,500 square feet and incorporating a daycare.
“This building used to be a church but we completely remodeled it,” Penland said.
The space is filled with food and treats for pups to roam through and smell. In the back is a large space with tables and tubs for bathing and trimming. And on the opposite wall from the entrance is a soft-ground play area for the dogs in daycare, highlighted with a mural painted by one of the groomers.
Four groomers are on staff, and each is paired specifically with individual dogs for the best relationship.
“Our groomers are matched with dogs, and they stay with that (animal) — there’s no rotating around,” Penland said. “It’s nice to build those relationships. Some are even on second-generation dogs with clients.”
Penland said it takes a lot of patience to be able to successfully work with animals. She compares it to working with children.
“They don’t understand some things, they only know they’re scared,” she said. “It takes learning to understand their emotions and tone to build trust. It takes experience.”
Although it has been a family business, Penland said she is the last of her family to be in charge. Her daughter is graduating from Purdue this fall.
“This business has allowed me to put her through college,” she said.
Penland does have a few family members, however, who join her at work. Every day, her two Bernese Mountain Dogs, Kimber and Remington, join her at work to play with the other dogs, greet customers and receive as many treats as they can.
“Most of our dogs are rescues accept these two because they were my bucket list dogs,” Penland said. “They come into work with me every single day.”
And in a few weeks’ time, a third bucket list dog, Colt, will be joining the working force at the Groomery.
“They’re my pistols, and everybody seems to love them,” Penland said.
Penland said the favorite part of her business is the people and the pets she gets to interact with.
Last Christmas, the Groomery was able to donate more than 1,000 pounds of dog food to the Kitsap Humane Society with the help from people in Port Orchard.
“The community has given us a lot,” Penland said.
“People are more honest when it comes to their pets because they have that unconditional love, no matter what.”
In fact, whenever she’s had a long day at work where cats clawed into her hand during their bath resulting in seven stitches, or she has to sit in a field for eight hours trying to lure a runaway parrot back down from a tree, Kimber will always be waiting for her to curl up at her feet.
“Animals are honest,” she said. “They’re always happy to see you no matter what.”
The Groomery is a professional service salon specializing in dog grooming, cat grooming, styling and nail clipping.
They also offer customers a variety of dog food and treat options available for purchase, offer daycare for dogs and some rehabilitation after surgery (all dogs are required to show proof of vaccination and paperwork to prevent exposing any other animal).
But that’s not all they do. Penland has groomed a four-month-old potbelly pig named Scarlet: “It was like trying to get a baby in a bathtub.”
Her brother owns Port Orchard Parrots, so she’s groomed several birds and has performed wing clipping. She’s groomed horses, sheep and, in one instance down in California, a Bengal tiger.
“It’s an adventure,” she said.
The Groomery is located at 510 Delkab St. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 360-876-5510.