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Business Spotlight: Canine Cottage

Owner recommends bringing dogs in when they're puppies—that way they're comfortable with the grooming experience from the start.

Welcome back to Southeast-Brewster Patch's (SBP) business feature. We recently sat down and chatted about business with MaryAnn Brooks (MB), a Carmel resident who owns . She's been a staple on Main Street for more than 20 years, and she typically sees at least 40 dogs in a week.

SBP: How did you get into this line of work and how did you find yourself in the Village of Brewster?

MB: I just loved animals when I was a kid. I went to dog-grooming school when I was 19 ... I worked for a lot of different companies over the years. I had two kids in high school and I needed to do something, I was looking for a location. This was a good fit. The rent was right. It's gone up over the years, we're up to normal rents now, but I'm established, so it doesn't make that much of a difference.

SBP: Are you strictly a dog-groomer?

MB: I do cats. I've cut ferret nails, I think I washed a ferret once. People don't normally come in for that, but if they do, we'll take them.

SBP: Where do most of your customers come from?

MB: They come from Carmel, Brewster, Mahopac. I get a lot of recommendations. I have people come up from the Bronx. Maybe they have family up here, and they're with me and they're happy, so they recommend me to their relatives, too.

SBP: What do most of your customers usually look for in a groomer?

MB: Gentleness and kindness. A lot of dogs come in scared, and some of them will be scared forever, but a lot of them I can work with. I had one who was here for the first time the other day, and he was scared to have his nails cut, so I said to the owner, 'If you keep coming here, I won't need a muzzle.' I hate using a muzzle. He was screaming and kicking, but you can't get mad at them. You have to talk them through it, love them through it. But most of the dogs are fine ... It's good to start them as young as you can. Stop in, let me pet them, even if I do nothing, just to meet them, so when they do come in, they're not like, 'Oh my god!'

SBP: Do you have a particularly busy season? 

MB: Summer and fall. This year I stayed pretty busy the whole year.

SBP: Have you felt any impact from the downturn in the economy?

MB: I did a couple of years ago, I really did, people were just washing their own dogs, a lot of people were buying their own clippers ... But it came back. Unfortunately though, I have lost generations of dogs, because I've been here for so many years. I still have regulars though, a lot of old ones and a lot of new ones.

SBP: What do you say to people who groom their own dogs?

MB: You have to be careful. Usually when people buy clippers they do it once or twice, then they come in and say 'I don't know how you do it.' You have to have that patience that comes through—even if you're feeling stressed, you have to let them feel nothing but calmness. You have to assure them. They know when you know what you're doing.

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