by Kirby LindsayOwners Nick Zouroudis and Amanda Graci didn’t originally plan to provide services in their pet supply shop, but that is the direction the paws have propelled them at Petapoluza (114 N 36th.)
The couple opened the retail store on January 15, 2007, after relocating here from Florida. “We started with half the stock we have now,” Zouroudis explained, “and let the community dictate what [else] we brought in.” Driving here introduced them, first in Knoxville, Kentucky, to the benefits of self-service grooming/washing stations. And this innovation has, in a roundabout way, led them to introduce dog training and socializing sessions at Petapoluza.
When Retail Goes Service
“It’s not a big money winner,” Zouroudis admitted about the grooming/washing station. They charge pet owners a flat rate for use of the huge sink, towels, shampoo and grooming supplies. Between users, the Petapoluza staff scrupulously clean the sink, hair traps, and towels, although “people are typically very respectful,” Zouroudis pointed out. They don’t provide razors, but Graci allowed that, “we have a handful of people that come in with clippers.”
“There is that non-quantifiable benefit,” Zouroudis admitted, that balances the lack of income from the self-service stations. When Drew Webster relocated from Colorado to an apartment here with Miss Bacha (a Border Collie mix,) he quickly found the grooming station, “a major convenience thing.” Out of his visits, a partnership developed between Petapoluza and Webster’s company, Good Dog Training.
Now Graci and Zouroudis have done preliminary work to convert storage/office space into a small training/playground area for dogs. Ryan “Henry” Ward has painted a mural on one wall and will, when they get further with renovations, do a second. “We want to be a one-stop shop for the people of Fremont,” explained Graci, “adding the training was a natural.”
Communication, And Small Steps
Webster’s methodology sounds ideal for the small setting. He spoke with me about “reading the dog” and the need to individualize instruction. “All training is communicating,” he explained, “a lot is making the dogs feel safe and confident.” With varied education and experiential knowledge, Webster talks about setting training goals for each dog, and taking little steps towards reaching those goals.
“What people know about dogs is based on their experience,” he explained, and, “there are some truths for many dogs,” he allowed, but “it is not a one-size fits all.” He uses skills and drills, slow steps and assessments in his classes, both with groups and private lessons. He also works with owners about how lessons learned can best be enforced. Another way to learn his methods, and get a good idea on what will be needed would be his drop-in class, currently held at 2p on Saturdays, at Petapoluza.
Sarah Gorman, of Elite Pet Care, also uses the Petapoluza space for her ‘Yappy Hour,’ held on Wednesdays from 6 – 7pm. This incorporates an important aspect of dog training, according to both Webster and Gorman: the need for socializing. While public dog areas bring together dogs of all sizes and temperaments, Yappy Hour gives small dogs, and their owners, a space (indoors) to meet and greet, and play, in a safe environment.
Gorman, who provides dog care and walking services at Elite, can also provide guidance during Yappy Hour. The gathering has also given owners a chance to connect with others who share their love of small dog breeds. Finally, Yappy Hour concludes each session with special ‘pup-tinis,’ for the dogs – an organic chicken broth martini.
With the training room, Zourdouris and Graci also have plans for wellness talks given by a local holistic veterinarian, gatherings for breed clubs, lectures and other socializing opportunities for pets, and their owners. All this comes in addition to the Greyhound adoption drop-in they already host on the first Saturday of each month at Noon.
So, for those with pets (including cats, birds, fish and reptiles,) can stop by to check out what Petapoluza can offer. For those without, the time may have arrived to stop in and see where you can get started…
- Our Most Distinguished Citizens: Going To The Dogs (and Cats)
- by Kirby Lindsay, July 26, 2000 in The Seattle Press
- The Animals Are All Right
- by Kirby Lindsay, January 11, 2006 in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook
©2011 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.