By Léo Azambuja
Honey is quite a charming lady, with those big, mesmerizing brown eyes and a habit of walking around naked, wearing only red nail polish. Lately, she gained some weight, and is topping four pounds. But she looks great at 57 years old — in dog years.
Honey is a regular fixture at The Sandy Dog, a busy pet salon in Kapa‘a owned by her mom, Crissi Dyer. Luckily for Honey, Chihuahuas don’t need haircuts; but she does get her tiny nails done.
“I have been grooming for 27 years,” Said Crissi, adding she got into this business because her mother was an animal lover and had many show dogs. “My very first job was at a grooming shop and I just stuck with it, I’ve done it all my life.”
Crissi takes dogs — and cats — of all sizes and shapes, from big to small, from long-haired to short-haired.
The most popular dog breed at The Sandy Dog is Shitzu. Their hair can get quite long, all the way to the ground. Crissi said in average, dogs return every other month, though some dog owners like to send them every 30 days.
Last month, Coco was at The Sandy Dog for the first time. A well-mannered Shitzu, she looked quite posh at the end of her session, and only whined a bit when unwanted hair was pulled from inside her ears. Other than that, she looked quite happy with her full spa treatment.
Usually, a session includes a bath, a haircut, nail trimming, teeth brushing, ear cleaning and the scents glands “expressed,” which is something most small dogs need.
The only thing missing is a massage. But they do leave with a special gift.
“I give them a bandana, everybody gets their aloha wear,” Crissi said.
For some breeds that have double coats, such as Siberian Huskies, Crissi uses a power drier to blow the undercoat.
“At home they would be brushing forever, it would never stop,” Crissi said. Additionally, wire brushes may scratch the dogs’ skin and hurt them, but the power drier “just gets it all out.”
Other dogs with short hair may come in for nail clipping — which can be testy sometimes — a good bath and all the other good stuff.
And yes, they can get their nails painted red just like Honey’s nails.
Crissi said the average price for a session is $60, and that would be for a full treatment for a dog similar to a Shitzu, her most popular breed. But that price can go up or down depending on the dog. Bigger dogs, dogs that bite, dogs with long, matted hair will require more time or more risks, so they might cost a little more.
Biting is a job hazard, but Crissi said it doesn’t happen “often.”
“I’m pretty good with dogs,” she said. “They end up learning they don’t need to bite me, most dogs are biting out of fear, they’re afraid, they’re nervous.”
Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting the dog into training class, Crissi said, which is another service The Sandy Dog offers.
“They can learn the basics; sit down, come, stay, but also behavior modification,” she said. Some dogs may have issues such as excessive barking, or maybe they’re afraid of kids and are nipping at them. “Basically any sort of issue that a dog might have, the simplest to the most complex.”
Potty training is a big one, “puppies and potty training,” she said. But there are a lot of things that can be done at home when puppies are very young to make sure the potty training is going to be “very solid.”
Crissi also sells her home-made leashes, and a few thrifty-store-style items, with proceeds going toward a nonprofit organization.
The Sandy Dog is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 8:30 until the last dog goes home. They are next to Tiki Taco in Kapa‘a, at 4-971 Kuhio Hwy, and can be reached at (808) 651-2240.