Friday, December 18, 2009

Peacefully Pampered

I often think of the Heights as "The Alternative" neighborhood. I don't mean alternative in the pop culture/music way; I mean it in the real definition way.

Main Entry: 1al·ter·na·tive
Pronunciation: \ȯl-ˈtər-nə-tiv, al-\
Function: adjective
Date: 1540
1 : alternate 1
2 : offering or expressing a choice
3 : different from the usual or conventional: as a : existing or functioning outside the established cultural, social, or economic system

The Heights is this for many people: for young families, it can be the alternative to the suburbs; for young couples, it's a more neighborhoody alternative to midtown; for those who want to live 'outside the existing cultural system' of some parts of Houston, it's a more affordable alternative to Montrose.

Because of this position as an appealingly alternative neighborhood, we also get a lot of great businesses which offer an alternative to the standard version of the same. A Peaceful Pet is that kind of business. Yes, it's a dog grooming business, specializing in small dogs. But Sandy offers small dog (and cat) owners an alternative to what they get at the big box groomer or more conventional pet salons.

I might be tempted to say that Sandy is first and foremost an artist. That has more... of an alternative sound. However, she has been a professional dog groomer longer than she has been an artist and thinks of dog grooming as an alternative art form. An animal lover since childhood, Sandy actually used to tell her mother she wanted to "be a dog" when she grew up. Rather than actually becoming a dog, Sandy ended up showing Pugs growing up. Then, at the age of 23, she was between jobs and saw a pet shop that needed help. Right away she hit it off with the groomer, and a career was born.

A native Texan, Sandy lived in Houston since she was a teenager. During her early years, she lived in and loved The Montrose- it was "IT" for her, the only place to be. But time brings change, and Montrose was in a state of change. Sandy believes change is good, that it's needed and she decided as her hometown changed she could use a change as well. She made a big change, heading to Chicago. She wanted to be in a "diverse, urban environment" and thought Chicago could offer that along with the change she needed. She lived there for 7 years and had a dog salon, but like many native Texans, the tractor beam pulled her home to Houston. This time, however, she settled (now with a small family of animals she rescued while up North) in The Heights.

Baby Jake, a rescued Yorkie from West Texas, acts as "security"

Baila, another rescue, is the "super model" of the bunch. Yes, that is her crazy tongue sticking out the side of her mouth. It doesn't get much cuter!

Why The Heights? The sense of history and the charm, of course. Sandy isn't interested in "mono-culture." She says it's just not for her and feels the Heights offers a variety of people and culture while still having a strong "sense of neighborhood." Well, and anyone who lives here knows the Heights loves some dogs and cats!

Along the path of life, Sandy also got involved with meditation. She says that in the past an equation of artist + groomer + meditation was kind of a foreign concept. Over her 26 years as a groomer, Sandy has seen a lot of animals be very stressed and anxious about getting groomed. With A Peaceful Pet, she hopes to bring the art, the mediation and the dog pampering all together in a way that provides a softer alternative to the standard grooming experience- for both the pet and the pet parent.

Sandy and one of her mixed media art pieces featuring Frieda Pixel

Frieda Pixel in her preferred position- baby cradle hold. Spoiled ;)

As an alternative to the standard procedure, pet owners are welcome to stay at A Peaceful Pet while their animal is being groomed. Sandy has a welcoming stash of snacks and hot tea for you to enjoy while your pet enjoys being groomed in a relaxing atmosphere with natural, Earth and animal friendly products. As much as she can, Sandy uses local products, or made in the US at the least. She also seeks out the most environmentally friendly products available, like Tropiclean shampoos, which are 70% organic and bottled in a package that will even biodegrade in a landfill. This is important because, she notes, there are more pets than people in the US, and pet owners have a large footprint.

Human treats help pet owners relax and feel at home while their animals are groomed. You are welcome to stay and enjoy Sandy's hospitality or you can drop off your pet and mosey down to Onion Creek for a drink.

So, yeah yeah. It's all puppies and rainbows, right? But Sandy is more than a relaxing hand on your nervous pet. She is a certified National Certified Master Groomer. In most states, Texas included, there are no licensing requirements for groomers. By getting certified, Sandy is ensuring you a high level of quality. She holds specialty certificates for Terriers, Non Sporting and Sporting dogs. Sandy grooms cats as well, using an all natural foaming cat shampoo that requires no water. I'm sure the cats appreciate the alternative to going under. Ha! She has 9 cat hairstyles and does claw trimming as needed.

Sandy's grand opening is this weekend, Sunday, December 20 from Noon to 3 pm. Stop in. Like many places in the Heights, A Peaceful Pet is also a mini art gallery. Two of the artists Sandy is featuring will be at the opening. Of course, they specialize in pet art! She will be offering human and canine refreshments. 2726 White Oak Drive, just west of Fitzgerald's.

Some of the artwork on display and for sale at A Peaceful Pet

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