There’s a new spa in downtown Gardiner where the clientele come in with dirty ears, matted hair, cases of fleas, grimy teeth, nails that are way too long, and skin that smells like skunk.
If they were people and the spa were for humans, they might be sent away. But these spa clients are dogs—and getting dirty is simply what dogs do. Getting them clean is what Nicole Smolenski does.
At Pooch Dog Spa at 123 Main Street, Nicole offers full-service grooming for every breed: haircuts, blowdrys, ear cleaning, nail clipping, tooth brushing, skunk baths, flea dips and medicated baths. She even offers a blueberry-vanilla facial designed to brighten the skin around a dog’s eyes. Free nail clipping is avail.able between appointments, and dogs are always given a snazzy bandana and some treats before they leave.
Nicole also works on cats. What’s popular with cat owners is a “lion cut,” when a cat (it has to be a long-haired breed) is shaved to look like a lion, complete with a fluffy mane, a poof of hair at the end of the tail, and booties. “I do a million of them,” she says. (Google it – it’s a thing.)
Nicole, 22, opened Pooch Dog Spa in August, 2016, after working as a groomer elsewhere for a few years. She never thought she’d commit to this line of work, being some.one who always shied away from messy tasks. “But after a while it became such a passion for me. I thought, I can’t not do this.”
She also prides herself on grooming dogs who aren’t very friendly, and she says for the most part she doesn’t turn down any dog. “I love, love, love dogs,” Nicole says. “I treat them like family when I groom them. Every dog has its own personality.”
Her own dog, a pit bull named Remy (“a princess”) doesn’t join her owner at work, but is given spa treatments after hours. Nicole, who is assisted at the spa by her sister, Aman.da Arestin, used to live above the spa but has since moved to Modena. She chose Gardiner because it’s “a really small, quiet, cute town, and it offers a good location.” Her clients come from Gardiner, New Paltz, Wallkill; even Poughkeepsie. The costs of spa services vary according to breed, weight, temperament, coat type, and other factors, but services generally run between $40 and $120.
Pooch Dog Spa at 123 Main St. in Gardiner is open by appointment only and offers services from Tuesday through Saturday. Call them at (845) 633-8033 or visit www.poochdoggrooming.com.