DARIEN, Conn. – Rebecca Stanton finds it surprising how far dog owners will travel to have their pet groomed at her Darien shop Paws & Reflect, with some making a 100-mile round trip or more to get the right look.
“I think part of it is the knowledge of our groomers,’’ said Stanton, whose customers come from as far as New Haven, Long Island and the upper reaches of Fairfield County. “And it’s one of the prettiest grooming shops. Everything is out in the open. Between the six of us who work here, we’ll find someone who will groom the dog the way that you want.”
Stanton’s trademark is her experience. She has been grooming dogs for 35 years, and for the last 23 years has been working at various places in Darien. She has had her own business in Darien for the past 12 years.
“It’s so creative,’’ Stanton said. “I love these dogs that come in. Sometimes they can be a mess, and we’ll get them looking great. My customers are wonderful. I’ve had some owners who have had four or five dogs. It’s just been joyful.”
Stanton said her only previous work experience was on a fishing boat in Alaska. When she left the boat for the last time, she met somebody who needed a person to work in a kennel in Maryland. Stanton, who said she has always been crazy about dogs, did some light grooming and learned from dog handlers. “I had a natural aptitude for it,’’ she said. “I began buying my own dogs and showing them.”
She worked in New Haven for several years before coming to Darien. Her attention to detail has a special resonance with dog owners.
“It’s an excellent part of the country to do business with animals,’’ she said. “If you can supply the service they want, you’ll do well. People won’t put up with shoddy workmanship. It keeps our game sharp.”
Stanton said every dog is unique, and she tailors her approach to the personality of the pet or the owner.
“You have to learn what makes each and every dog tick,’’ she said. “It’s second nature. I can look in a dog’s eyes and tell what’s going to happen. Their body language, how you approach the dog, how you’re going to groom the dog, whether they can be bribed. The most important thing is to make the dog look like what the client wants it to look like.”
Stanton’s business has been named “Best Of The Gold Coast” for nine straight years. She does not take the award, or her customers, for granted.
“I’m amazed at how many shops people have to pass to get to me,’’ Stanton said. “Dogs are very important to them. They get to know me, trust me and are willing to make the drive. I know what a big compliment it is. I have been truly blessed.”
Paws & Reflect is at 1082 Boston Post Road. For more information, call 203-655-DAWG (3294), and or visit its website.