There’s a new stylin’ surprise getting conditioned in Valley Springs. A pet grooming salon opened Aug. 1 amid an economy that saw several small business closures.
Bark, Bath & Beyond (BB&B) offers a variety of grooming services for both dogs and cats – from head to tail.
Married couple Megan and Jason Fonzi began the salon with a simple mission: to provide a grooming service with love, compassion and a trauma-free experience for all pets who come in.
Megan Fonzi, born and raised in Italy, began her career in pet grooming when she was 15 years old. She started practicing techniques with shelter dogs who needed to be groomed as well as for people who couldn’t afford to have services done on their own pets.
“After classes in college, I’d go to practice on the shelter dogs,” she said. “Whoever needed to be groomed, I groomed them.”
She has lived in Valley Springs for eight years now.
Before opening her own shop, Megan Fonzi had been working in Burson in a kennel as the head groomer. Once the kennel strictly transitioned to boarding-only, Fonzi decided to create Bark, Bath & Beyond.
Jason Fonzi has been helping his wife out at the shop. He has a background in wrestling and has been in the sport for 26 years. In 2009, he was ranked No. 6 in world wrestling. His dream is to soon open a wrestling gym and provide afterschool programs for kids.
Megan Fonzi’s dream is to eventually hire a team of groomers who are as dedicated to the quality of care for dogs and cats as she is.
“I’m tired of hearing horror stories of groomers being mean to dogs and dogs being mishandled,” she said. “A lot of the problem is that this industry is not regulated, and people can wake up one morning and say, ‘Hey, I’m opening up a grooming shop.’ And they don’t know anything about how dogs should be handled, the differences between temperaments, reading the dog’s body language. So, dogs are mishandled and marked as aggressive or they are mishandled to the point where they become aggressive.”
She’d like to spread her standard for grooming to include providing a calm, patient and stress-free environment for pets along with gentle handling skills rather than having a “rough and tough grooming shop.”
“I would rather work with a dog and train it than force groom it, muzzle it and force groom it,” Megan Fonzi said. “Those are the clients I try to attract. If you’re getting paid to hurt people’s dogs, you’re in the wrong industry.”
“A lot of people who work with animals aren’t very nice to them,” Megan Fonzi said. “It was very nice to find that (Jason), a big dude that does cage fighting on the side, can be here and handle the scared dogs well. We’ve been working together ever since.”
For the upcoming winter season, the Fonzis suggest that pet owners still bring in their furry loved ones for their regular grooming.
“In the winter season, everybody wants to groom their dog absolutely fluffy and think, ‘We’ll just shave ’em down in the spring,’” Megan Fonzi said. “It is very important that when your dog has long hair that they come (to the salon) the same amount as they do the summer. If they get a haircut every four to six weeks in the summer, it should be every four to six weeks to maintain their winter coat. When they get matted, it is very painful – even shaving them in the most humane way is very uncomfortable for them. So, keep the grooming regular even in the winter.”
Since Calaveras is filled with wildlife, the Fonzis know how stinky the house could get if a dog tries to befriend a certain fluffy black-and-white mammal. Instead of the traditional peroxide and Dawn dish soap to relieve the stringent smell, Megan Fonzi recommends Scout’s Honor Skunk Odor Eliminator, which can be purchased at any large pet supply chain or your local feed store.
To help out the local community, BB&B offers free toenail trims for pets owned by senior citizens, veterans and first responders every Monday. They offer $5 nail trims for the rest of the general public on that day too. This will be continued until further notice.
“There’s a lot of seniors that come that are on social security,” Megan Fonzi said. “Some bathe their Chihuahuas at home, but the only thing they can’t do are the nails. They can’t afford to go the vet and have it done. We’ve come across a lot of very grateful people.”
Bark, Bath & Beyond is located at 55 S Highway 26, Suite 5 in Valley Springs. For more information, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/barkbathandbeyond209 or call (209) 920-3465 to make an appointment.