Pet grooming shop makes impression on Talbot Ave.

Doggie Styles owner Trudy MacDonald works with client "Walter the Pugalier." Photo by Kendra Stanton Lee./p>

It is hard to find a review about the Doggie Styles pet grooming shop. After all, the Peabody Square shop only opened in February of this year. And the clientele is also somewhat reluctant to talk.

But client Walter the Pugalier (a mix of Pug and King Charles Cavalier), does appear content as he receives his manicure. And Puff Daddy the Maltese is looking like a whole new dog after his shampoo. So we'll have to take that as paws-itive feedback. Shop owner Trudy MacDonald is equally positive about her line of work. After a 25-year-career as a case worker, most recently in a residential treatment center, the transition to pet grooming was almost inevitable. "I've always been that kind of a person that likes to help people. It's just my nature. After 25 years of doing that, I really found myself getting more and more involved with dogs. Everywhere I would go, it was all I would talk about - dogs," said MacDonald.

MacDonald said she has always been a dog-lover, but it was in 1996 when a pug named Lucy came into her life that caring for dogs became her passion. MacDonald calls Lucy - a docile fawn-colored dame - her "inspiration."

She explained that in 2004, she saw an advertisement for a canine grooming certificate program at Mount Ida College. MacDonald just happened to be working at a facility right across the street from the college in Newton. MacDonald was able to attend the program while working full-time.

"Lucy went to grooming school with me for the entire year. They wanted me to put a cap and gown at her at the graduation," said MacDonald laughing, "She was like the mascot of the grooming school!" Learning to care for other people's dogs was one of the strengths of the canine grooming program, said MacDonald.

"What I learned from the program is how to handle an animal. I learned how to approach an animal, how to read an animal -- how they're going to behave." This is critical, said MacDonald, "because all animals are different."MacDonald also emphasized the importance of communication skills with dog owners and how listening to their needs is important to her. Customer Bridget Joyce brings her dog Bentley to Doggie Styles. "He has diabetes and is insulin-dependent. Bentley is also blind," explained Joyce, "We love him very much and Trudy is very patient and kind to our dog - not to mention a wonderful groomer." Although Doggie Styles primarily grooms dogs and sells other canine accessories, MacDonald treats cats, as well.

She also offers a "24 hour De-Skunk Hotline" service. "That was set up because I learned that there were a lot of skunks in the neighborhood. I will come anytime - even if I'm in Canada," she joked. "I had three [dogs sprayed] last week. I have a special spray to neutralize the dogs before you bring them in the shop," she said. MacDonald then offers a dual shampoo service to de-skunk the dogs. As the colder months approach, MacDonald emphasizes the importance of grooming one's pets. "Dogs get the winter itch since they're inside so much. They should actually be groomed more in the winter time," she said. She often prescribes a medicated bath for dogs with this itchy condition.

Whatever the season, though, Doggie Styles is certain to keep busy. MacDonald estimates 1500 dogs living in the Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods combined, based on reports from the registered dogs of Boston.

Her landlord John Butts agrees that the shop serves an important purpose. "It's a service to the community," he said.

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