Pup Cuts owner grooms pooches

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Cat-owners need not read this. Pup Cuts is strictly for dogs.

The dog-grooming business at the far east end of Valley Community Plaza in Rio Communities sees a steady stream of dog owners and their pets as summertime shaves are one way to beat the heat.

Janis Marston-News-Bulletin photo: DOG GROOMER Jessica Tafoya shaves “Pookie” the schnoodle — a schnauzer-poodle mix — at her Rio Communities business, Pup Cuts.

Pup Cuts owner Jessica Tafoya says her four-legged clientele consists mostly of little dogs — poodles, schnauzers, schnoodles, cocker spaniels, Shih Tzus and the like — but big dogs come in for a bath and haircut once in awhile, too.

“Some people even get their Chihuahuas cut,” Tafoya said. “Some think their dog won’t shed if they get it cut.”

Just like a beauty salon, Pup Cuts has a list of regulars — dogs that come in every six to eight weeks for a trim. A shampoo and shave for small dogs costs $30; it’s $5 more for fluffy-legged “lamb cuts” or if matted hair is a problem.

At 21, Tafoya has been grooming animals since her 4-H days, starting with pigs and goats.

“She took to it immediately,” said her mom, Gina Tafoya, who is Jessica’s shop assistant. “It’s her calling.”

At 16, Tafoya had a mobile grooming service out of the family’s Casa Colorada home that attracted clients as far away as Rio Rancho. Some still want her to keep their dogs looking good and now come to her.

Pup Cuts has been open since December. Tafoya says she’s added about 130 new customers.

“We’ve had up to eight dogs a day,” she said.

It takes about an hour for each dog. First, there’s the rough cut, which lasts about 20 minutes, then the bath, then the final cut. Mom starts shampooing while Jessica starts another rough cut.

She doesn’t like keeping any dog in a kennel without water too long.

“I try to get them out as soon as possible,” she said.

If the dog has a lot of matted hair or if it’s misbehaving, it might take her 30 minutes longer.

That often happens when the daughter-mother team volunteer to clean up shelter dogs in hopes that they’ll be adopted faster if they look good.

Gina shows a picture of a dirty, weepy-eyed, mop of a dog that looked like it came straight from Skid Row. Several shots show Jessica at work with her clippers and a pile of matted hair growing around the dog’s legs. The last image features a trim, bright-eyed, white poodle fit for any dog show.

“Muffin,” a white Maltese-poodle mix, was getting a Mohawk, while two schnoodles waited for their turns with the groomer. Muffin didn’t seem to mind being lifted and twisted this way and that as the shaver buzzed away. It almost looked like she enjoyed the groomer’s attention.

That’s not always the case and dog bites can come with the job.

However, Tafoya said, that doesn’t happen much and, if a dog misbehaves too much, the owner must pay extra for the sins of their dog.

Pup Cut’s hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Tafoya says she’s flexible and, if needed, will accommodate an owner’s hours. For information, call 861-9711.