Across our area, a common bond of conversation and life are the pets we keep.
Many High Country residents consider their pet dogs as a part of the family, exercising them at local parks and trails and treating them with the love and respect often afforded to children.
Because the pet dog is such a loving part of the community, Lucky Dawgs in Newland offers premium salon services for your "lucky dawg."
Shop owner Rhonda Malone moved into the area in summer 2010 and made the decision to open a shop dedicated to caring for the grooming and pampering of local canines. "I decided over this past winter to open my own shop," Malone said.
Malone, the owner of two Shih Tzus named Benjamin and Danika and two English Bulldogs named Stella and Blue, has had a great affection for animals for years. Malone grew up in Greeneville, Tenn. and graduated from the Pet Stylist Academy in Lynchburg, Va. in 2007. She has worked for groomers both within the region as well as locally.
Malone holds an associate's degree in industrial technology and is a machinist by trade, but her passion lies with caring for and helping pets.
"I just love to do this. I love animals so much and have the unique opportunity to do something I wanted to do rather than just doing a job," Malone said. "I decided to go to school for pet grooming and I can't think of any other job I'd want to do more. I like caring for dogs and concentrating on pet care, taking care that the pet has a good time."
Malone operates Lucky Dawgs from the lower level of her home. The locality of the business to home allows Malone to offer customers regular periods to bring dogs for appointments, yet also provides the unique opportunity of flexible days and hours to schedule services for dogs with grooming or other needs.
Lucky Dawgs offers an outdoor deck, hammocks and creekside chairs for owners to wait on their dogs, as well as free Wi-fi for owners to conduct business or surf the Internet while their dog is being pampered,
"We're pretty much open all the time. A benefit of being here at my house is that I can also offer evening and weekend appointments," Malone said. "Generally speaking, however, we offer appointments at 9 a.m., noon and 4 p.m. Customers can call to schedule an appointment and we will be happy to work with their schedule, especially at this time as we are beginning to grow. I am willing to schedule appointments on Saturdays and Sundays, which is different from most of the local groomers."
Lucky Dawgs provides in-home grooming, as Malone can come to a customer's home with equipment and supplies to groom an owner's pet. Malone is also licensed in North Carolina to treat fleas and additional ectoparasites of pets.
The business provides toenail painting services for dogs, can perform tooth brushing, ear cleaning and hair removal, and can also perform services such as sanitary trim, anal gland expression, premium shampoos and conditioners, brushing and trimming of dogs. Lucky Dawgs can even fill the request of custom dyeing a dog an assortment of colors, always carrying out services with the safety of the pet using intentional love and care in mind.
Malone stresses the importance of properly maintaining pets for their health and overall well-being."A lot of people want to take good care of their animals, but sometimes they're not sure of the best things to do and not to do," Malone explained. "I'm all about educating people. If someone wants to learn how to comb their dog's ears out, I'm not going to tell them to bring it to me and charge some large amount to do it. I'll show them how to do it properly, so they can keep it up on their own and help defray some costs."
Lucky Dawgs plans to donate five percent of proceeds from grooming on a monthly basis to Avery County Humane Society. "I think it's important for all the animals in our area to be taken care of for a plethora of reasons," Malone said. "In doing so, I want to be able to help contribute, and hopefully customers will be happy to know that they are also helping our local animals in need."
In addition, Lucky Dawgs offers a referral program, with a $5 credit to customers for a new referral to the business. The credit is repeatable and can be accrued toward grooming services.
For Malone, the vision of Lucky Dawgs is more than the bottom line.
"Our ultimate goal is to provide quality care for pets," Malone said. "It isn't all about making money, and I want to concentrate on giving pets the best possible care they can have."
Lucky Dawgs is located at 894 Little Plumtree Creek Road in Newland. Appointments are available at 9 a.m., noon and 4 p.m. weekdays and by appointment on weekends. For more information or to make an appointment, call owner Rhonda Malone at (828) 897-1280.