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BEDFORD -- Jennifer Rogers loves animals. Growing up on a horse farm, she was always surrounded by a variety of horses, chickens, dogs, cats and other animals. She comes from a well-known horse family; her uncle owns L.M. Turner Stables in Brentwood, and Rogers herself showed horses in her younger years.
It seems fitting, then, that she would pursue a career that involves animals. Rogers, 40, believes that every pet should get star treatment, and she's built a business on the concept.
Rogers owns Hollywood Hounds on Wallace Road, where she pampers pooches and fancifies felines from morning until night. Her goal: to make her furry friends as comfortable as possible.
“Every pet is a star here,” Rogers said, alluding to the salon's name.
Rogers, who says she has always wanted to work with animals, has been in the job for about 11 years. After graduating from Designer Pet Grooming Salon in Merrimack, she stayed on as a groomer for about four years before opening her own shop six years ago.
Her day begins at 7 a.m., when she feeds her own eight dogs before getting to work on her schedule for the day. Customers drop off their pets for grooming beginning at 7:30, and Rogers keeps pace with her clients until 5 p.m.
On a recent Saturday, Rogers re-opened her doors after closing for two weeks to make improvements to the facility that she and husband, Patrick, added on to their home.
She spoke softly as she clipped CJ, a Yorkie who has been with Rogers since he was a puppy. A clothes dryer hummed as clean bath towels spun around, and soft-rock music played in the background.
“We try to keep things quiet and calm,” Rogers said while maneuvering CJ to get to every spot that needed a trim.
Rogers estimates that she tends to only about seven to 10 dogs a day, so that dogs and their owners don't feel rushed.
Pets are kept for a four-hour block of time, and services are rotated among staff, which includes Rogers' son, Zack, Patrick and two part-time employees.
Rogers prides herself on providing a high-end pampering experience, using top-of-the-line products and spending a little more time with her clients, especially the timid ones.
“We take pride in working with the anxious dogs, the hospice dogs and the elderly dogs,” she said. “I really take time with them.”
She says she isn't interested in simply moving dogs in and out her doors, and she makes a point of knowing everything about the experiences her dogs have at the salon. For each pet that is treated, there is a large index card listing all of the services provided, as well as other information Rogers likes to pass on to owners, such as how much the dog enjoyed a certain treatment or any problems the pet might have had.
Rogers says she also enjoys working with dog owners, or “parents,” as she calls them, to be sure they're getting exactly what they want for their dogs.
Every dog's visit begins with a warm bath, shampoo and conditioning treatment. Rogers says there is no extra charge if a dog is particularly dirty and needs multiple scrubs.
She also provides de-skunking services, and definitely doesn't recommend the tomato juice bath.
“That's the biggest myth I wish I could set people straight on,” she said, adding that skunk spray is an oil-based substance that needs special care to be removed.
After air-drying in a crate for a short time, the freshly cleaned dog moves on to a brief blow-dry with room-temperature air.
“We never risk overheating a pet,” Rogers said.
Next, it's up on the table for a brush-out, nail trim and any other owner-requested treatment, which can be anything from teeth-brushing to a haircut.
The facility is equipped with an array of different-sized crates, towels, scissors and a special suction clipping machine, which allows two dogs to be groomed at a time.
“It's sort of like a Flowbee,” Rogers said. “It sucks the hair up straight and gives a more even cut.”
Rogers says she finds great happiness in running a true family business. Patrick works the desk, answers phones, makes appointments and, when necessary, takes dogs for a walk. Zack, 19, is now officially on the books after performing occasional tasks in the spa for several years.
Customers make many requests, and Rogers does her best to accommodate. She says she doesn't consider any request strange, even the one she received to dye a dog pink.
“I like to be artistic and creative,” she said.
Nevertheless, she says, not every request can be granted. The pink dog, for example, never came to be because the pet's hair was black.
Rogers did, however, succeed in making one of her clients look like a miniature lion.
“There's a lot of fun in doing things like that,” she said. “It's nice to put a smile on someone's face. It's really about making sure everyone is happy at the end of the day.”