Happy Paws Pet Grooming owner Barbara Whitt gently clips out matted fur and removes all tangles from Bugsy during a recent grooming. Photo by Michelle M. Mondeck, KP News

There is a new dog grooming business on Key Peninsula.

Meet Barbara Whitt, the owner of Happy Paws Pet Grooming.

She presently works out of her residence in Lakebay, but she’s got big plans. In the near future she plans to build a grooming shop on her property separate from her house to make room for more customers. Eventually she wants to have a grooming shop in Key Center.

Whitt’s a California girl who knew what she wanted to do with her life at a very early age.

A love of animals was the motivation that got her into the dog grooming business at age of 15, when she worked as a bather for DogWorld in Napa, Calif.

Her first patron was a Shiatsu, a breed with the unusual talent of being able to bug its eyes out.

“I didn’t know they could do that and it really scared me,” she said. “I wouldn’t do Shiatsus again for a while because of that.”

By the time she was 17, Whitt was working at Kresmark Kennels in Sonoma County, training and caring for potential law enforcement dogs, where she performed her first grooming tasks. She left that job after a large German Shepard named Reo went crazy. “He lunged at me and bent the bars of the kennel in an attempt to seize my throat,” she said.

Undaunted, by age 23 she was grooming dogs for Tails in Napa. She also began working out of her house. She later worked at the Pampered Pooch and had her own licensed shop called Barb’s Nails and Tails.

Sometime later, she moved to Oregon and Barb’s Nails and Tails went with her. Her memory of times and dates here was a little foggy, as she was being treated for a asbestos mesothelioma cancer. Time, her will and surgery got her through it.

Whitt moved to the Ken Peninsula in February of 2011.

“I moved here because I wanted to raise my son in a better place than California. The community and the people are great,” she said.

Whitt is presently training a new apprentice, Kristin Millard. Together they work the Happy Paws Pet Grooming shop and offer services that include nail cutting, baths, flea and tick removal and haircuts. She even does specialty cuts like “Dutch” and the startling “lion cut,” which turns a poodle into a jungle cat.

Whitt said prices vary depending on the weight and breed of the animal. She also has discounts for seniors (humans). Like most places on the Key, finding her shop can be a bit exciting, but she does have paw print signs along the way.

Happy Paws Pet Grooming is located at 1513 197th Avenue, KPS in Lakebay.

For information, email happypawspetgrooming@nulllive.com or call (253) 884-1515

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