When We Met

I was driving around Twin Falls on Dec. 20 looking for story ideas when I noticed a sign for a do-it-yourself pet wash business. So I turned around, intrigued by a place where people could wash their own dogs, and followed a red sign to a business formerly known as The Sudzy Mutt but now as Wag-N-Tongue.

Owner Heather Stroup was in the back trimming a 3-month-old Shih Tzu named Buttons. The small dog’s gray and brown fur fell in clumps below the table as Stroup cut his hair. This was Buttons’ first time at a professional groomer. Besides a few whimpers as he had the hair from inside his ear removed, Buttons didn’t seem nervous. I think it was because Stroup was talking to the small dog as she clipped his nails and hair.

“Yes, you’re a good boy,” Stroup said to Buttons. “Now you’re ready for your bath. Want to take a bath and get all cleaned up?”

She scooped up the dog and took him to a sink to wash him with blueberry-scented shampoo.

How You Might Know Her

Stroup celebrated Wag-N-Tongue’s one-year anniversary Dec. 1. She is originally from Oregon and moved to Twin Falls in August 2011. She relocated here because her sister lives here, and she said her family is having “a ball” living in Idaho.

Stroup graduated from the Oregon Pet Grooming Academy in 2003 and worked as an instructor there for six years.

She started grooming dogs as a way to support her four kids after a divorce.

“I just wanted to stay home and raise my kids, and since then it’s been grooming,” she said.

Two of her younger children are still homeschooled, now by her sister, and occasionally they help her out in the shop.

Even while Stroup was raising and educating her children in Oregon, she had a vast knowledge of dogs. She just didn’t know one day she would put it to use.

“When I was a kid we only had hunting dogs. So I would read about the other breeds I wanted like collies and German shepherds,” Stroup said. “I’ve always knew facts about dogs. It’s just up here like an encyclopedia.”

Though she doesn’t know them all, Stroup said it’s hard to stump her.

One time a man came into her shop and said: I have a breed you’ve probably never heard of before.

It turned out to be a lowchen, and Stroup had groomed one before.

What’s a breed she’s never groomed? She looks forward to the day somebody brings in an Afghan hound, because they are known for their long, flowing, silky hair.

What’s Next for Her

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As Stroup finished Button’s blueberry facial, the puppy’s eyelids started to droop. Stroup said it wouldn’t be the first time a puppy fell asleep during a wash. She said one of the thing she enjoys about her job — besides adorable dogs struggling to stay awake — is watching families come in to wash pets that are more like members of the family.

Stroup said the self-wash option is the perfect way to save money, but she is always on hand to assist or offer extra services.

“People like to spend time with their pets,” she said. “Basically we have everything you need to get your pet clean.”

She pointed to bottles filled with blue, light green and purple liquids that are for pets with sensitive skin to those who encountered a skunk. There are even forced-air dryers to quickly dry fur complete with headphones — for person or pet — to block out the noise.

And Stroup said she doesn’t mind if people bring in their pygmy goats, sheep or rabbits that need a good washing.

As long as they don’t mind leaving smelling like blueberry soap.

Tell Tetona Dunlap whom she should meet next for her

weekly column:

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