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A DOG GONE CLEAN Taking suds on the road



Published: Tue, September 11, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Solteszes charge anywhere from $40 to $80 for a typical grooming session.

By REBECCA SLOAN

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

AUSTINTOWN -- Finding the time to take Fido to the groomer's can be a doggone hassle for busy families constantly on the go.

If your furry friend could use a soak in the suds but you haven't had a spare moment to get him or her to the nearest groomer, perhaps Bob and Rachel Soltesz of Austintown can help.

This husband and wife own and operate A Dog Gone Clean mobile pet grooming service, and they'll come right to your door armed with shampoo, clippers and all the necessities.

When they depart in one of their state-of-the-art pet grooming vans, the only thing left behind will be a squeaky clean, sweet-smelling dog or cat.

"We are all about convenience," Bob said. "Our clients don't even have to be home when we come. They just leave us a check, we take the dog or cat out to the van, which is equipped with running water and all the necessities, and in about an hour, the job is done."

Perks: Although mobile grooming services are more expensive than traditional groomers, Bob said his clientele seem to think the perks are worth the extra money.

"The animal gets cleaner faster -- in an hour as opposed to two or three hours -- and the owner doesn't have to worry about drop off or pickup. There's also less stress on the animal because it can see its home right from the windows of the van and there are no other animals around to cause upset," Bob said.

Cost: The Solteszes charge anywhere from $40 to $80 for a typical grooming session, which includes a shampoo, nail trim, ear cleaning and blow drying. Bob said traditional grooming shops charge about $20 to $35 for the same services.

Since starting the business about 10 years ago, the Solteszes have acquired two state-of-the-art vans equipped with holding tanks for water, generators for electricity and propane heaters for hot water. The vans also have high ceilings so the Solteszes can stand up without having to worry about bumping their heads when it's time to clean a canine or kitty.

Maintenance: No grooming takes place inside clients' homes. The van is equipped with everything needed, and in addition to grooming dogs and cats for a full eight-hour day, the pair must also spend a lot of time maintaining their vans.

"We have to make sure the water tanks are full, the generator is up and running, the propane tank is filled. We have to call clients and schedule appointments and order supplies. There is a lot of preparation involved. The work is not just all grooming," Bob said.

Despite the long hours, the Solteszes love their line of work.

"We enjoy working with animals, and it's a nice, peaceful work environment," Bob said. & quot;It's nice to be out and about. & quot;

Bob said his wife grooms most of the cats while he handles the big dogs.

Most of the time, the pooches are gentle, but once in a while he does get bitten.

"That just comes with the territory," he said with a laugh. "Most people won't call if they have a really aggressive dog and they know it is going to make trouble. Sometimes the cats are actually wilder than the dogs because cats really hate to get wet."

Area: A Dog Gone Clean caters to clientele in Austintown, Niles, Warren and Howland.

Bob said sometimes he and Rachel will travel just outside of these areas, but they don't make a habit of traveling too far away.

"We've had people want us to come all the way to Pittsburgh. That's just too far," he said.

Bob said although mobile pet groomers are popping up all over the country, the trend got started on the West Coast and is most popular in Florida.

Contrary to what many people assume, senior citizens are not the number one clientele of mobile groomers.

"Lots of seniors are on a fixed income, so they cannot afford to use a grooming service that is more expensive. Most of our clients are wealthier families with two working parents whose tight schedules leave them pressed for time," Bob said.




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