Dog groomer brings years of experience to Madera
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Heather Stuckey, owner of Spas 4 Paws, grooms, Wilma.
For the past 12 years, Heather Stuckey has been working for other people grooming dogs.
However, with the urging of her grandfather, Stuckey decided she wanted to work for herself. With the help of her best friend Amanda Zaragoza, Stuckey came to Madera to open Spas 4 Paws (100 E. 7th St., Ste. 114), an all-in-one spa day for your dog, in November.
“I started at PetsMart,” she said. “I worked for a couple of small businesses in Fresno. I moved to Santa Maria and worked for PetCo. I was talking to my grandpa and he was saying why are you working for other people. You should be doing this yourself. He was the one that sparked that.”
Stuckey, 33, is a life-long dog lover, and found dog grooming as a career that fell into her lap.
“When I was a kid, my mom used to breed Chows so I’ve been around dogs my whole life,” she said. “I kind of fell into grooming. I wasn’t even thinking of it as a career or an option. I was a cashier at PetsMart and going to college. My boss asked if I could use more hours and put you in the salon and see how you like it. He did and I fell in love with it and have been doing it ever since.”
That one question changed the outlook for Stuckey. Instead of working to become a dental assistant, Stuckey became a dog groomer and has been at it ever since.
“That was a big moment for me,” she said. “I was going to school for dental assisting and in love with dental. That’s where I thought I wanted to go. They threw me in the salon and I thought, maybe not.”
Stuckey says she has the perfect job. She loves being able to see all the different dogs go into her business. While some dogs are support animals for their owners, Stuckey believes she gets to be all of their support humans when they are in her company.
“I just love seeing the different dogs come in,” she said. “It’s a warm feeling to have dogs around. People have emotional support animals. I get everybody’s animal to give me that same feeling. It’s so great. I guess I speak dog. I understand their behaviors. I worked with dog trainers, but I learned a few things from them.”
Stuckey was talking to Zaragoza about opening a shop and they decided to come to Madera. Zaragoza, a life-long Maderan, had ties in the community and thought this would be the best place to open.
“She went to school for business and said she could help open,” said of Zaragoza. “She knew more or less what to do with the business side. She helped me so much with all of that stuff. She would pop in and hang out with me at work. I asked her to help me out while she was waiting. I started teaching her how to be a bather. Now, she helps me in the shop every day in the bathing. She helped me so much with the business stuff.”
Since opening in November, things have gone pretty well for Stuckey. She has struck up quite the number of fans on social media.
“I love to see the satisfaction,” she said. “I haven’t had anyone complain and they seem so happy. It makes me feel really good about my work and what I’m sending out. They will book their next appointment and keep coming back. Business has been really steady. The last week or two, my phone has been ringing off the hook. I’m booked out for two weeks. It’s really nice to see before and after picture. I think, wow, I did that. I shock myself sometimes.”
Stuckey credits her mother for getting her started, but she has always grown up around dogs.
“My mom got me into PetsMart and she worked there, too,” Stuckey said. “We’ve always been dog people. She has seven dogs and just got another puppy. I’m not super surprised where I’m at and I really enjoy it.”
Stuckey feels she has come a long way since working as a cashier at PetsMart and is enjoying being her own boss.
“I enjoy every single day,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m going to work. I get to go to work, see dogs, go to my own business. I love it. I really enjoy working for myself. I feel like I have come a long way. I have waited a long time to work for myself. I did everything the hard way. I feel like I learned from all the people I worked for so it made the transition easier. I learned from the other shops I worked at and implemented the things I liked. It’s been a real good transition. I work with one of my best friends. It’s pretty great.”