Snippets of white and gray fell along the table as Annie got her hair trimmed.
She wagged her tail anxiously as Darlene Johnson finished up the haircut and moved on to clipping the 3-year-old Shit Tzu's nails. Satisfied with the job, Johnson, a part-time dog groomer, fastened Annie's handkerchief back around her neck and gave the pooch a green dog biscuit. This time, Annie wagged her tail happily.
Chester was next in line at the Triple H Ranch, located four miles north of U.S. 40 on SR 59. Panting nervously at first, the rusty-colored Pomeranian sat still while Johnson combed through his thick fur.
"You'd be very surprised, sometimes when they get up on the table they become very meek and cooperative," Johnson said, stressing that patience in her profession is essential because the dogs she works with pick up on her moods.
When she is relaxed, they become relaxed as well.
"Animals have a sense, they just know what you're feeling," Johnson said. She likes to make her four-legged clients feel special while there, giving them personal attention throughout their visit.
Some go for a whole new look, while others, like Chester, just get a little trimming of the undercoat. Besides opting to have their dogs' nails painted, owners can also get their dogs teeth brushed with poultry or beef-flavored toothpaste.
"Grooming is important to the overall health of the dog, especially to prevent skin infections and allergies," Johnson said. Many take advantage of the little extras she does with her little visitors. She stressed the importance of dental hygeine, because oftentimes dogs' lives are shortened due to gum infections.
Grooming at Triple H Ranch is by appointment only. A second career for the retired elementary school teacher, Triple H offers heated and air conditioned dog and cat boarding. The canines have outdoor access while in their kennels during their visits and the felines sleep in bi-level cat-condos.
"I've had pets all my life," Johnson said, adding, "I just really enjoy grooming and working with dogs." She's owned a few Jack Russell terriers and Labrador retrievers over the years and is accustomed to grooming her pets. For several years she has shown her Jack Russell terriers in dog shows.
Whether staying just a couple hours at the pet daycare while their masters are shopping, or boarding there a couple months, Triple H Ranch offers what many pet owners are looking for. And the animals appreciate the care they receive.
Johnson recently attended the Atlanta Pet Fair, the largest show in the Southeast for professional pet stylists. Networking with other stylists from various parts of the country during the three-day conference, she also learned new grooming techniques. In addition to being certified in pet CPR, she's a skilled stress massage therapist for pets.
"My training gives owners peace of mind while they're away," she said, pointing out that in her field it's important to be ready to act quickly in the event of an emergency.
Also, the animal's comfort in the country-like atmosphere is apealing to those in her care.
"They all seem to really like it here. They may be a little nervous at first, but they always leave happy," she said, smiling.