By Steve Sears
“We were sitting by the lake and I said, ‘I want to do it. I want to work with animals,” he recalls.
Mazur was working as a UPS driver, delivering packages daily. “And I wanted to do something that I loved,” he says adamantly, “and dogs were it. If I was going to work that hard, I was going to do it on my terms. I knew I wanted to do it. I went to school to learn how to groom dogs, and here we are today.”
Grateful Dogs Grooming and Daycare opened on March 8.
Freer, 24, who works as a Project Manager in the horseracing industry and is getting her MBA at Seton Hall University, handles the finance end of the business, while Mazur handles the grooming side, where he is perfecting his skills at the Clip Shop School of Dog Grooming. Post-schooling, he also worked at various grooming spots in addition to a doggy daycare facility.
He was ready for this opportunity and, his schooling and skills indeed being stellar, here is the foremost reason. “I just wanted to work with animals. I had animals my entire life. My entire childhood growing up, I was always around canines, and especially when I met Kylie, I took her dogs and I just fell in love with her dogs, too. I felt like it was a good career for me to work with canines and give them a place to play and make them feel safe and keep them safe as well grooming-wise with their grooming needs.”
Freer, with her financial and business acumen, feels the fact that Grateful Dogs has a bunch of different revenue streams (“We have grooming, we have daycare, we want to offer retail, we eventually want to go into training, and we have some big ideas…”) is important in seeing the bigger picture. “With my expertise on the business end and looking at the finances and seeing the best phased approach to get to kind of our bigger goal, is what I think really complements my skills with Alex’s creative mind and his actual skill set with the grooming of the dogs.”
The 3,000 square foot Grateful Dogs – which is open Monday through Thursday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for daycare, and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for grooming, and Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for both daycare and grooming (closed Sunday) – offers an abundance of services. Included are bath, full grooms, de-shedding, de-skunking, nail trimmings, anal expression, and blueberry facials. Grateful Dogs also has a variety of daycare packages for all types of dog owners, including both full day and half day daycare. Daycare at Grateful Dogs is designed to offer a safe and fun environment for all dogs, and with indoor, outdoor, and small dog daycare rooms, there are options for all breeds.
Here’s another asset. “The groomers that I have working with me as well have many years of experience,” says Mazur. “The groomers I have, as well as myself, have been grooming for three plus years, and I have another groomer that has been grooming about six years. We have tons of experience.”
Freer piggybacks on Mazur’s comments, “Aside from experience, Alex really did pick pet groomers that really care for the pets and the dogs. They have their own approach, so they’ll have their own undivided attention, and they really take their time. It doesn’t matter how long they take or what they need. They really will move mountains to make sure that dogs are safe and comfortable, and the owner is happy as well.”
Per Freer, Mazur is also the creative mind behind the business, designing the logo and the interior of the facility, ensuring that the grooming room specifically was tailored to the comfort of the groomers so they can groom in the best environment.
“The safest environment possible, yeah,” says Mazur.
“And,” adds Freer, “to make sure that the dogs were comfortable as well. That’s kind of why we looked at the biggest space. So, he (Mazur) really has a knack for that aside from grooming. He really understands the industry and came up with the name ‘Grateful Dogs’ with the pun, and I think he really did a good job with that.”
“And with her business aspect,” says Mazur of Freer, “I’ve seen how Kylie works all the time, with many different companies, taking on internships and everything. I think Kylie’s really qualified to help me run the business end of it and also,”
“And Alex can teach me how to groom and really care for the dogs,” Freer interjects. “I actually sat in on a couple courses that he was taking just to sharpen his skills a little bit on the grooming side as well as the daycare just to make sure that the dogs are as safe as possible in group play and seeing what we can offer to stimulate their minds and get them excited to be here.”
Pairing their talents, Freer says she really believes that she and Mazur can make Grateful Dogs a success. “And you know,” she attests, “being young it definitely is scary and there’s a lot of things that we didn’t know about. But also, being so young, it’s kind of like, ‘Well, what do we have to lose? We have the support of our family, friends. They think we could be great at this. Let’s believe in ourselves.’”
The duo plans on having events at Grateful Dogs and looks to get involved with adoption agencies. “We really want to see where we can make the most impact,” says Freer. “We really want to partner with one that we feel that we can help and really make an impact on these dogs’ lives. I think we have the space to do it. We’re looking into some things that we can do now, aside from just hosting events. We can offer donations or something along those lines. So that’s something on our radar right now.”
Grateful Dogs is located at 1123 Rt 23-NJ Wayne. Call 973-954-7703 and visit www.gratefuldogswaynenj.com.