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Getting Skippy spiffy is the business of pet spa

May 30, 2007

Most people who have dogs and cats will tell you that they are a like a member of the family. That may be true in more ways than one - like family members, pets are subject to stress, can be temperamental and like to be pampered now and then.

If that sounds like your four-legged friend, maybe they could use an afternoon at the spa.

Yes, you read that correctly. Bay View is home to several spas, with the number increasing each year as more and more people discover the restorative bliss of a massage or the skin benefits of an exfoliating scrub. Now, we have a unique spa specifically catering to pets, Embark Pet Spa, which recently opened in the small shopping center on the corner of Oklahoma and Clement avenues.

Calm and relaxing

The business is owned by friendly local couple Sarah and Brett Jahnke, who chose to open the spa out of a desire to provide a calm, relaxed environment for pet grooming, in contrast to the often chaotic nature of the usual grooming shop.

Sarah Jahnke has been working in various aspects of pet care for close to 15 years, with experience in several grooming shops, the Humane Society and a stint as a veterinary technician. She also does nail clippings at Bay View's The Natural Pet the third Friday of each month.

"I was actually going to school for photography," Jahnke said. "I was working at a grooming shop on the side, and they asked me 'We need a groomer, can we train you?' So I started doing it part time and realized how much I liked it."

Having worked in many different shops, she saw ways that she felt she could improve upon the atmosphere and service - two aspects which make her new venture so appealing.

The shop is cozy with a comforting vibe, featuring chocolate-colored accent walls that look elegant when paired with a cream ceiling and light-colored work area. One immediately noticeable aspect of the spa is how clean it was, with no mountains of pet hair in sight. In fact, even the smell of the place was pleasant, lacking the strong pet odor that some such places have.

"That's a big thing with me. I've worked at shops where all day long they let the hair get all over the floor, and it makes me crazy. It stinks for one, and it's messy for two. So, after each dog I clean the floor and disinfect the table, bathtub and the equipment," Jahnke says.

Embark truly is top dog is in terms of the services it provides. The shop offers basic grooming, which includes the haircuts and nail trimmings that are commonplace at dog groomers. Price depends on the type of dog, but for a small dog - Yorkshire terrier, Bichon Frise, poodle - it's in the $30 range for a basic cut.

Blueberry facials available

The individual spa services are creative and serve a purpose beyond simple pampering. Embark offers blueberry facials, which are designed to brighten up a dog's face and get rid of tear stains. "It's really good on white dogs, and it smells great," Jahnke said.

For the active dog, a paw soak will take a few miles off their feet by means of a three-minute soaking, followed by a paw massage.

Tired of finding pet hair everywhere from under the mattress to between the cushions of the couch? The "Ferminator" treatment will help you say hasta la vista to excess shedding. The dog is lathered with a special shampoo that is massaged into its coat for about 10 minutes. After rinsing, a de-shedding solution is applied and massaged into their coat. The procedure is finished using a special brush to comb out the excess hair from the dog.

"It's their undercoat, not their real coat, that's coming off. It's that dead hair that's all over your house," she said.

"I use it on my shepherd and it works really well. A couple of my customers have used it and have come back for it again."

Other services Jahnke offers include nail filing, which is a gentler means of trimming the nails that results in shorter, smoother nails; not to mention less-agitated dogs. She also provides teeth brushing followed by a breath spray and, for those who really want to pretty up their pet, nail polishing in one of 10 different colors.

Many of the grooming products that Jahnke uses are available for purchase in the shop, like Tropiclean and Spa Lavish Your Pet, as well as some clothing items.

"We're trying to create a little pet boutique with fancy little dresses and stuff like that. Not exactly clothes for cold weather, just for when you want to dress them up. We also have stuff that you can put on their collars," she explains.

At present, you don't need much advance notice for booking - maybe a couple of days. Sessions usually run between 90 minutes to two hours, depending on the dog. To keep the calming atmosphere of the spa, Embark has a policy of not keeping the dogs for long periods of time. Basically, you drop your dog off and come pick them up at the appointed time.

"When they come in, all of my attention is on that dog until it leaves," she says.

Jahnke recommends that dogs get their hair cut every six to eight weeks to prevent matting, which can be painful. She also suggests baths at least every three months or so (depending on the dog), that nails get trimmed occasionally to preserve the health of the nail and that a dog's anal glands get checked regularly to prevent infection.

The store has been open for business since mid-April, but is planning their official grand opening celebration for Saturday, June 9. Anyone who attends gets 25 percent off their next grooming and is eligible for raffle prizes that include free spa services and grooming. They also plan to have games for dogs.

Grebe's Bakery closes

South Milwaukee residents may have noticed that Grebe's Bakery on 10th Avenue has been vacated. The company decided recently to shut down this location.

Luckily, you can still get your hands on their scrumptious baked goods if you visit Grebe's main bakery at 5132 W. Lincoln Ave. The bakery also will continue to sell through the Sentry grocery store chain and the food marts in Speedway gas stations.

Grebe's offers catering as well as a variety of pastries and special occasion cakes. For information, call (414) 543-7001.

Dan Cowan wants to stick his nose in your business. Contact him at dpc5555@yahoo.com with tips for his Strictly Business column.

At a Glance

Name: Embark Pet Spa - Spa services for dogs and cats

Address: 1208 E. Oklahoma Ave.

Owners: Sarah and Brett Jahnke

Hours: Call (414) 747-8830 for hours.

E-mail: embarkpetspa@att.net

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