The fur flies for groomer in Soldotna

Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2008

For a place that caters to four-legged furry animals, Waggin' Tails was strangely quiet on the morning of June 12. Barking dogs could be heard over the hum of clippers, but for the most part they were just waiting their turn at the table where Robin Hogness clipped Rufus the schnauzer.

Rufus was one of three schnauzers that were groomed that day. In one corner of the shop Parker the standard poodle stood patiently while Ronda West trimmed his curls. And every now and then a cockatiel chimed in.

Hogness, who opened Waggin' Tails grooming May 5 in Soldotna, serves dogs and cats, and owners are welcome to stick around or drop off their pets.

She initially began grooming as a favor to neighbors and friends, she said, until they persuaded her to open a parlor. Prior to her move to the Kenai Peninsula, she owned Doggone Fast in Eagle River and Anchorage, playing up her fast scissoring and clipping talent, she said. Hand and shoulder surgery slowed her down, Hogness said, but she's still good at what she does.

"I wasn't grooming dogs for a job, I was doing it for fun," she said. "I do all breeds and cats. I do large dogs, also. They're harder to handle, but they need to be groomed."

The dogs at Hogness' parlor were relaxed. Hogness handled them as much as she could -- a key, she said, to their relaxation -- and Parker the poodle helped calm nervous newcomers.

"Nobody's barking, it's really nice," Hogness said.

Even though there are two other grooming parlors in the Kenai-Soldotna area, she said she doesn't consider them competition. They've been here forever, and they have their own clientele, she said. Waggin' Tails, which is on the corner of Birch Lane and Redoubt Avenue, is easy to walk to for many who live in Soldotna.

"Some people were crying out to have something centrally located," Hogness said.

Waggin' Tails used to be Barkingham Palace, and people were excited that another grooming parlor would be opened, she said. When it came to setting up her shop, she said she had to order supplies, such as tables and cages, from Massachusetts, and Mark Raymond built the counters.

West, who is being trained by Hogness, said she also wants to be a groomer. She's always been an animal lover but didn't have the opportunity until now to work with them.

"She's a really good handler," Hogness said, adding she also views Waggin' Tails as an opportunity to train people how to groom the way she does. "She talks to the dogs and makes them feel important."

In the future, Hogness wants to train more groomers and eventually open a kennel. She also plans to set up a dog obedience school in the parking lot.

"I plan on being here for the long haul," she said.

Appointments can be made by calling Waggin' Tails at 260-6161.

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at

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