NORTH SMITHFIELD –After more than 15 years in the business, groomer Karen McCreadie has worked with every type of dog – and says she knows how to read people’s pets.
McCreadie’s twin sister owned Alpha Dog Center in Cumberland, and the groomer spent more than a dozen years working there, helping to keep clients’ four-legged friends neat and tidy.
Now, she has started her own venture with the opening of Fairy Tails Dog Grooming at Slatersville Plaza.
A lifelong Burrillville resident, McCreadie is a certified groomer, who also brings experience as a dog trainer to the endeavor.
“You have to trust your groomer to be able to take care of your pet,” she said. “Safety is priority to me and I’m very honest with my clients.”
The skill – and McCreadie’s direct approach – can come in handy when working with difficult animals.
“I give every dog a chance,” she said.
If a dog show signs of high anxiety or aggression, she will typically call the owner to chat.
“I think a lot of pet parents appreciate that,” McCreadie said.
And if Rover is simply too wound up to be safely cared for by the groomer, she won’t push forward, but says she will try to help.
“I let the owners know how to help the dog,” she said. “And if I can’t work with them, I’ll recommend where to go.”
But McCreadie notes that most often, she can manage her furry clientele, and pets leave looking relaxed and pretty. She has a photo with one repeat customer – a difficult German Shepherd who would bark and growl at her. In it, both dog and groomer are baring their teeth.
“He was such a bluff,” she said.
“To read a dog, for me, is very easy,” she said. “I’ve never been bit really badly by a dog.”
Her methods help: McCreadie notes that she never lets strange pets interact with one another in her shop, and has a calming approach, keeping stimulus to a minimal.
The method and experience also give her an advantage in working with dogs with medical conditions.
“I have a lot of senior dogs that come to me,” McCreadie said.
The groomer said that when a potential client tells her about their dog’s condition, she’ll learn all she can about it, so she knows what signs to look for. A dog with a heart condition, for example, may need a break from grooming, or a little extra time and patience.
The result, McCreadie says, is a lot of repeat business – and happy pets.
“You get comfortable with your groomer,” she said.
Her prior location, Alpha Dog Center, also offered boarding and day care – elements of the business that she and her sister learned were no longer in demand in a world changed by COVID-19. The business closed earlier this year, and McCreadie is now working with her younger sister, Kirby McCreadie, to focus strictly on grooming at the new enterprise.
And much of her loyal following has already found her at the space at 900 Victory Highway.
In addition to the typical haircut, nail and bath services, the business offers packages, with specialty scents and shampoos for specific issues. To help with shedding, the FURminator package includes a targeted shampoo, conditioner, and brush out; and products such as the butter bath or milk bath can help with dry, winter skin. A current Christmas promotion dubbed the “Sparkling Pine package,” includes a holiday scented shampoo, matching cologne and a festive bandana.
The most popular so far has been the Blueberry Bubble Bath Spa – which utilizes a strong, long-lasting scented blueberry and clove shampoo that also works as a calming aromatherapy. It comes with matching conditioner and cologne, as well as a facial and a bandana.
“A lot of people have said they don’t have that in other places,” McCreadie told NRI NOW.
Things are different, of course, with ongoing virus precautions, and McCreadie only allows one family to visit her business at a time. Everyone wears masks, she said, and those waiting stay inside of their cars.
“Everybody’s been really, really good about it,” the groomer said.
McCreadie said business has been steady since she opened her doors November 18, and the highly visible location in Slatersville Plaza helps, as people walking by quickly become new clients.
“I think it’s going well,” she said.
Fairy Tails Dog Grooming is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Sundays and Wednesdays. To learn more and make your appointment call (401) 488-3091.