It’s a lot harder than it would seem at first – dogs don’t necessarily like baths.
For more than 40 years, Debbie’s Dog Grooming have been giving Spokane Valley pets their baths and cuts.
Owner Tami Richardson said the business was started by her mother, Debbie Sterritt, in 1973. She gave the shop to Richardson just after she graduated from high school in 1979.
Richardson started out bathing dogs when her mother first opened the shop.
“By the time I graduated, I was ready,” Richardson said.
She said Sterritt had worked at a veterinary clinic helping the vet’s wife, who groomed dogs. She also bathed dogs at Dee’s Grooming before opening her own shop in a bedroom of a house on Farr Road. They later moved to a converted one-car garage, and in 1983 moved to the current location in a house squished in between warehouses at 9418 E. First Ave.
Richardson relies heavily on word of mouth to get new customers. She has three employees: her brother, Dave Graham; daughter Talia Richardson, 21; and Steven Schiller, 27.
Schiller has been at the groomers for nine years and specializes in bathing cats.
“You’re always on your feet when you’re doing a cat,” Schiller said. “You never take your eyes off them.”
Keeping a small business open for 40 years is quite an accomplishment. Richardson credits her longevity to being accommodating to her customers.
“I think a lot of people like us because we’re good about getting them in,” she said. “A lot of times they will request something that they think will match the dog’s personality,” and Richardson said they like to help customers with that.
“We’ve seen it all in 40 years,” she said. “A lot of my customers are on their third or fourth dog.”
Richardson’s own dogs – Miley, a 5-year-old standard poodle; Bonnie, a 6-year-old Australian shepherd; Brody, Bonnie’s 2-year-old son; and Dakota, a 1-year old Australian shepherd – all spend time at the shop keeping the other dogs and the staff company.
The shop offers full-service bathing and grooming, starting around $30 for small dogs. This includes a bath, a haircut, toenail clipping, and ear cleaning.
They also offer single services – tooth brushing, toenail clipping and anal-gland expressing are all $5 each.
“They get the works when they’re here,” Richardson said.
When she’s not working at the shop, Richardson trains dogs in obedience and agility at Spokane Dog Training Club.
She said her job is very rewarding. Dogs tend to know when they need a good grooming and are happier when they leave.
“They love you no matter what,” she said.