Last year, Anna Renner was left with a decision to make when the Egg Harbor Township boutique where she worked as a dog groomer moved.
"I had been grooming there one and a half years and did not want to leave the customers without a groomer," said Renner, a Barnegat resident. That's when she decided to start Bark Of The Town, Housecall Dog Grooming.
Renner said she had owned dog grooming salons and been a dog groomer for about 20 years. Now her office is in her clients' bathrooms, laundry rooms, or kitchens.
"Wherever there is light, water and electric," she said. "I bring everything I need to bathe, dry and groom your dog and clean up when I am done. You will not know I was there except that your dog will look and feel fabulous."
Renner sees clients from Barnegat down to Margate. Prior to each appointment she makes reminder calls.
"'I have a date with Oscar at 9 a.m.,'" Renner said, mimicking a call. "It's my extended family. They react to that. I treat them like humans. If you show respect to them, they'll respect you."
Renner's home-based business focuses on small and medium dogs up to 45 pounds, such as Havanese, Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise and Yorkies. But a favorite breed as far as haircuts is the Kerry Blue Terrier, she said.
Renner's portable table is equipped with a grooming arm to help the dogs feel secure and keep them safe. She said patience and a soft voice go a long way in helping a dog behave.
"I generally don't take dogs that are difficult now," said Renner. "When they were nervous in the shop, they're better in the house. They're much more comfortable at home."
When she arrives at her clients' homes, most of the dogs recognize her and will come to greet her, according to Renner.
"People refer me because the dogs are happy when I'm done and happy when I come back," said Renner. "I advise them on the best way to take care of their dogs in terms of grooming. It's almost like being part of the family."
Renner takes pictures of her clients and, at holiday time, presents their owners with a CD of the photos she took over the year. She also posts pictures on her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/barkofthetowngrooming.
For more information about Bark Of The Town, call (609) 891-8773.