Caring for Our Fur Family

Owner of pet groomer store entering 26th year in business

By Lynette M Loomis

Karen Shraeder is the owner of Barks & Bubbles Grooming Salon in Honeoye Fall. She holds her dog, Petey, a purebred French bulldog puppy that comes with her to work every day.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that one in five businesses fail in their first year and 50% fail within five years.

But not this entrepreneur.

Karen Shraeder, owner of Barks & Bubbles Grooming Salon in Honeoye Fall, celebrated her 25th anniversary in 2022 and she is going strong.

Her interest in grooming began as she petted and combed her first pet, a cat named Fluffy.

Shraeder said that being only 10 she didn’t have much imagination, hence the name Fluffy. The pet menagerie grew over the years to include a horse, a domestic as well as a wild duck, gerbils, mice, rabbits an Amazon parrot, budgies, skunks, raccoons, turtles and lizards.

In her 20s, Shraeder had a Westie named Ashley, who required regular brushing and clipping, which she did herself. Her knowledge of how to effectively keep Ashley looking wonderful was enhanced by two breeders.

“I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a groomer back then,” she explained.

When Ashley died, Shraeder realized that not only did she miss having fun with Ashley, but also missed grooming her. She wondered if she could learn to groom other breeds.

She researched the business.

“The internet was not as we know it today; 10 seconds and you have hundreds of pieces of information. It was more the old-fashioned way of researching it, reading books and articles and talking to people,” she said.

She was excited to learn that there was school near her home.

“I went to take a tour of the school and I was hooked. I was fascinated watching these women groom dogs. I was in school from September until spring,” she said. “It was recommended that graduates do an internship. I was too excited to start my own and bring my dog to work with me, so I bypassed that step. I am happiest when my dog is with me. I spent the entire summer of 1997 looking for a suitable location for a grooming salon where I live, Honeoye Falls.”

Shraeder has raised three puppies at Barks & Bubbles.

Dog groomers, pet owners and veterinarians combine their understanding of an animal to help pets live their best life. As a groomer, Shraeder tends to see animals more frequently than a veterinarian, perhaps every three to eight weeks. Whether it’s a new puppy or an adult dog, she does an evaluation at the first visit. She checks their coat and temperament.

“As far as working with frightened dogs, I work with them on a case-by-case basis. Some puppies are anxious in the beginning just because they lack grooming experience. Some older dogs are frightened because of lack of grooming experience, or occasionally a bad experience getting groomed elsewhere,” she explained.

She has been known to sit with a frightened dog for half an hour before beginning any type of grooming so she can ease their fears.

“With a lot of patience, fearful dogs almost always come around and are a joy to groom. For safety’s sake, dogs that are aggressive with me or my groomers I refer to a trainer,” she said. “No dog groomer should ever try to diagnose a medical problem. We are not veterinarians and that is not our job. I frequently refer my customers to their veterinarian for evaluation of some physical change I noticed. Since we do see our clients on a very regular basis, we often spot physical changes at an early stage.”

Shraeder has one dog, four cats and two deer mice that she rescued at 9 days old, and a reef aquarium. In her spare time she is an advanced, certified scuba diver through the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. She loves flowers and gardening, cooking and baking. If she has time, she enjoys crafts.

A very-timing consuming joy for her is her new puppy, Petey Pup.

“I am involved in attending dog obedience classes with Petey. Eventually I will have Petey tested by Therapy Dog International so he can become a TDI dog. That requires a lot of time and commitment so that’ll be a few years down the road. Then we will be able to visit nursing homes and probably hospitals,” she said. “My goal is to be able to have him do therapy dog work at Golisano Children’s Hospital.”