Ann Weber always has loved animals, and today she's turned that passion into a successful local business.
"I used to groom my own poodle - and at first, I would have to take her to another groomer to get her fixed correctly," she said. "She still runs from me when she sees scissors in my hand."
Although Weber has no formal training in grooming, she studied under certified master groomer Jody Murphy. She also attends trade shows, seminars, conferences and reads many magazines to keep up with the trends.
Fancy Paws owner Ann Weber brushes out tangles on Teddy, a dog at the Randolph County Animal Shelter. Weber donates her services to the shelter animals in need of grooming before they are adopted.
On May 6, Weber realized her dream and opened Fancy Paws, named for her beloved pet Fancy.
She decided to make her lifelong hobby into a business after her 14-year career ended, because of the death of her boss.
Weber began learning all she could about grooming dogs and then opened up Fancy Paws on Chenoweth Creek Road in Elkins. The business is a dog day spa, pet boutique and day care center.
"Fancy Paws offers dog lovers the opportunity to pamper their pooches," Weber said. "The dogs can enjoy such luxuries as a blueberry facial, coat brightening and whitening, fur-butter deep conditioning or an oatmeal bath for pets with irritated skin."
Weber said the products she uses are all-natural, tearless and very uplifting for the dogs.
"When I am giving a facial, the dogs are so relaxed they sometimes fall asleep in my hands," she said.
The bathing system Weber uses is a hydro-massage, and it adds in the shampoo automatically.
"The system is very therapeutic and helps to relax the animals as they are bathed," Weber said.
Along with bathing, regular grooming includes cleaning the ears, removing hair from the ears, and clipping and filing toe nails.
After bathing and drying the dogs, she moves on to styling.
"Some animals are styled with clippers and others require the use of scissors," Weber said. "This is kind of an art and takes lots of practice."
Weber said she has just added coloring to the list of techniques Fancy Paws offers to its pooches.
Coloring is just for fun, and she has done some mohawks, stencils, colored ears and tips of tails.
"Coloring is a huge trend and offers owners a way to individualize the look of their pet, similar to everyone getting tattoos," she said. "It is harmless to the animals, and the pets like the extra attention they get. The animals do not actually know what is on them, but they do notice the extra pets they are receiving and that others are noticing them."
Weber also said she can add feathers and beads to ears like those so popular with kids today.
"I have been practicing the coloring, which is applied with a blow pen," she said. "I would like to compete someday in coloring and grooming. Some of the more elaborate ones I have seen are where they turn the dogs into zebras, panda bears, dinosaurs and lions."
Besides the work Weber does with her business, she also helps with the Randolph County Animal Shelter.
"When the shelter gets in an animal that is real need of grooming, I donate my services to help," she said. "The program is called 'Howl to Bow Wow WOW' and really gives these dogs relief from the matting. It also gets the pet ready for adoption. Every dog should have the opportunity to feel good and look good."
The boutique aspect of Fancy Paws offers unique, upscale accessories and foods for animals.
"We have WVU bowls, pet frisbees, dog and cat collars, toys and specialty foods," Weber said. "We also have aromatherapy scents and clothing."
Some of the aromatherapy scents include mellow pet, thunderstorm and home alone. These help calm the animal during stressful times. She also sells items like thundershirts, which act like swaddling a baby to calm anxieties in pets.
Specialty foods for cats include such rabbit, duck and pheasant flavors.
Animals that are in boarding and day care stay with the Weber family in their home.
"This transition is easier for the animals because they are still in a home atmosphere," Weber said. "We make the animal follow the same rules as in their home; if they are allowed on the furniture at home, they are allowed on the furniture here."
Weber said she also is going to begin making and selling her own line of treats.
"I am very excited to have the opportunity to follow my dream to open this kind of shop," Weber said. "I enjoy the work I do with these animals, and it makes me happy to offer these services to pets and their owners."