Pet groomer aims for stress-free environment

Shampooch owner Cindy Smith said pet owners can trust their dogs and cats will be treated kindly at her grooming business.

"We're really small and personalized, so we only [groom] six to 10 animals a day," she said. "We always say that, 'They're your babies when you have them, and they're our babies when we have them.'"

Some Shampooch customers have been bringing their pets in for the past decade, and the business has been serving South Austin for 15 years, she said.

Manager and groomer Kim Thompson uses natural products and provides "total pet grooming" for each animal that is brought into the business, Smith said.

It can take a few hours to complete a pet's grooming, Smith noted. Pets are bathed with a special oatmeal shampoo, rinsed, and they then wait in a travel crate to dry. Time varies depending on the dog's size and length of fur, but Smith emphasizes the shop tries to minimize the amount of time that pets are crated. Then they move to the grooming table and leave with a bandana once their owners arrive.

The cost per visit is based on the size of the pet: for example, services for a Chihuahua are $25, $55 for a medium-sized poodle and up to $90 for larger dogs.

"The dog's going to be handled by one person and one person only. You know they're going to be treated with kid gloves," Smith said.

She added her grooming business is also one of the few in Austin that also caters to cats.

Small, personable approach

Thompson said while she doesn't necessarily consider herself a "people person," she loves talking with pet owners about their dogs and cats. Smith said Thompson has also helped make some of the grooming business' customers aware of issues that they might not have known about without her care.

"Just recently, last month ... [Thompson] found a lump on this dog. [His owners] took him to the vet, and he went into emergency surgery. Otherwise he would have died," Smith said.


Shampooch specializes in elderly pets, pets with poor eyesight and animals that have had negative experiences with past groomers, Smith said.

"I opened my own place up 15 years ago because I found out my dog was being abused [by her groomer]," she said.

She explains that at the time, she was taking her dog, Sophie, to a groomer who asked if she'd be interested in taking over the business.

Smith left her corporate job, trained briefly as a groomer and started her new job. But she said after she witnessed employees mistreating animals—she cited staff yanking on pets' collars and blowing a small dog off of a table with a hair dryer—she tore up her contract and decided to start her own business.

Originally, Shampooch set up shop in the back of a friend's pet store in the 78704 ZIP code, she said.

Then Smith moved the business to another location on Oltorf Street, where the business remained for the next several years.

In July 2011, Shampooch moved into its current Southwest Austin location. Smith said she lost a few customers as a result of the relocation, but she has also gained a few and hopes to continue building her client base.

"We want them to have the best experience they can possibly have at the groom shop. If they have had bad grooming experiences, we try to let them know that that's not going to happen here," Smith said.

Customer feedback

Kim Thompson, manager and groomer at Shampooch, said many of the pet grooming business' customers are regulars, but new clients walk in often to find out more about its services.

"We've gotten a lot of positive feedback," she said, noting most reviews on websites such as Yelp have been very supportive of the grooming shop.

Customer Michiel Rushing said his dog, a rescue, was mistreated by previous owners but feels comfortable with the staff and environment provided by Shampooch.

"I would try to bathe him, and I couldn't. I could not get him clean. He would dry with stuff on him, and he'd run off. He has no manners," Rushing said. "And he's as good as gold for [Shampooch]."

More than just shampoo

Instead of selecting individual services, pet owners receive all aspects of grooming for their animals at one price at Shampooch based on the animal's size. Services include:

  • Bath with natural shampoo
  • Anal glands expressed
  • Organic dip to kill fleas
  • Fur brushing
  • Fur trimming/haircuts

Additional services: $10 for nail clipping (comes with ear cleaning)

The business also sells shampoo, clippers, brushes, combs and leashes.