St. Stephen – For 14 years, Marydale McElroy had a good job as a labourer with NB Power, and was a member of the labourers’ union. With such a good gig, one would think she was pretty satisfied and comfortable. But, McElroy wanted more. So this year, she decided to take a chance by leaving her comfortable job and starting her own business. Marydale’s Pet Service opened in mid-December at 180 Milltown Boulevard in St. Stephen, and offers a variety of services for dogs and cats.
“I gave up a good job for this. I’m just hoping that it’s going to be a go,” said McElroy.
This new venture wasn’t something that just happened over night. McElroy first had to spend a year taking an online course in dog grooming and animal behaviour, followed by 100 hours of hands-on practice at All About Animals in Fredericton. She said she had to learn all about the anatomy of dogs, how their bones work, how many bones they have, how they bend, and more.
“There was a series of tests every month, and there was one final exam that I had to do,” said McElroy, who is now a certified pet groomer.
When asked why she decided to become a dog groomer and start her own business in St. Stephen, McElroy said it all began after the death of her husband. She began devoting more time and attention to their little dog, Scooter, and was grooming him herself. She decide that she didn’t want to hurt her dog, so she took the course in order to learn how to do it properly.
“I just didn’t want to hurt my animals,” said McElroy. “After I took the course, I was even more scared, because I realized what I had been doing wrong.”
So, she took the course, and did her hands-on training to ensure that she had all of the skills needed to groom dogs and cats. She said it took approximately a year to complete, including the hands-on work. She had to submit a test each month that she was graded on, and then take a final exam, which involved grooming a dog with no books or other sources to reference. Now she is able to offer full grooming services to pet owners in the community.
“Right now I’m offering full grooming, which includes ear cleaning, undercoat removal, baths, and total shaves if they want,” said McElroy. “I’m going to be selling all-natural pet shampoos and other products within the next few months, once things start to pick up a bit.”
In addition to pet grooming, McElroy offers other services, including dog boarding at her home in St. Croix, between Vanceborough and McAdam. She has 10 acres of land, and is able to board several dogs. She said she has boarded dogs from many places, including the U.S. and Ontario, for up to two weeks at a time.
She also plans to offer a doggie daycare service at her Milltown Boulevard location. If customers need to bring their dogs in early because they need to get to work, she is more than willing to open up early in order to accommodate them. Her regular hours are Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. She has also contacted the SPCA, and told them if they require her services, she is available to them free of charge. To book an appointment, call McElroy at 465-8120 or check out her Facebook page, Mary Dale’s Pet Services.