On-the-Go Grooming

mobile service brings the fur fixing to your door

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Judy Kippenhan poses with her customized pet-grooming vehicle and a satisfied customer.
Judy Kippenhan poses with her customized pet-grooming vehicle and a satisfied customer.

Don’t want to truck your dirty, unkempt, or otherwise in-need-of-grooming pooch to the doggie salon? Don’t have time to squeeze a visit to the dog groomer between your other errands? A local pet professional has a unique solution.

For the past year, certified pet stylist Judy Kippenhan has been the proprietor of Pawsome Lodge Mobile Pet Grooming, an on-the-go business based in a super-customized van that brings a full array of pet grooming services to clients’ doorsteps. Lead Fido – or Mr. Whiskers ­– up the ramp into the van and onto the electric-powered table to get the haircut, bath, nail trim, or other grooming service he or she needs to be a more pleasant household companion.

Kippenhan, of rural Chippewa Falls, is a longtime dog lover and began to dabble in pet grooming years ago. “My husband used to groom our dogs, and I looked at them and thought, ‘There has to be a better way,’ ” she said. In time, she began grooming friends’ and neighbors’ dogs and finally decided to pursue grooming as a real, moneymaking career. “I need to make a change, and I decided to do something I loved,” she explained. For Kippenhan, who as a teen aspired to be a vet, becoming a mobile pet groomer allowed her to be close to animals all day.

There are numerous pet groomers in the Chippewa Valley, so Kippenhan decided to carve out a niche that wasn’t filled in the region: making house calls. She bought the van last year from Wag’n Tails, an Indiana firm that specializes in creating mobile grooming salons.

Think of her unit as a mobile pooch-prettifying command center. The gleaming white, customized Ford E-350 Super Duty Extended Van contains everything you’d expect to find in a pet salon. In the center is a table big enough to handle a St. Bernard, with a wing that extends outward to allow the pampered pooch to step directly into a stainless steel tub. The tub is connected to two 50-gallon tanks, one for fresh water and one for wastewater. There’s also a built-in vacuum cleaner, a generator, a hot water heater, and climate controls to keep the interior warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Kippenhan said her customers tend to be people with multiple dogs or dogs that don’t like to travel,  as well as pet owners who live in rural areas or who don’t have a lot of extra time. Among them is Sarah Wojcik of Lake Hallie, whose 85-pound German shepherd, Maia, needs special grooming attention.

“They call them ‘German shedders’ for a reason because they shed like crazy,” Wojcik said. Maia dislikes car rides while her owner dislikes cleaning the car out after drool- and fur-filled trips to the groomer. “She is very large and very hairy and she’s in her elderly years, so it’s just more convenient to have her groomed here at the house,” Wojcik added.

Likewise, Lisa Martino of Chippewa Falls wasn’t thrilled about hauling her greyhound-boxer mix, Penny, back and forth to a groomer. Then she discoverd Pawsome Lodge. Now, instead of going to a shop full of barking dogs, Penny gets one-on-one pampering. “She’s just nice and soft and silky now,” Martino raved.

Many of Kippenhan’s clients are from outside Eau Claire. Without her service, they would have to drive to the city to have their animals groomed. “They’re excited that something like that is in the area, that I can come to them,” she said.

For such clients, the convenience of a pet-grooming house call is truly Pawsome.

To learn more about Pawsome Lodge Mobile Pet Grooming, visit www.pawsomelodge.com or call 715-944-4232.