By Lori Lindner
North Liberty Leader
NORTH LIBERTY– Kristine Bauer has gone to the dogs, and she’s loving every minute of it.
Grooming dogs was something that came naturally to the Cedar Rapids resident, who learned the craft from a friend with a grooming salon in Missouri. But when Bauer’s son graduated from high school and went on to Iowa State University to be part of the wrestling program, Bauer said her pet project became opening a new location where she could add doggie daycare and boarding.
Bauer formerly operated Pawz Grooming off Highway 965, and just opened her new, expanded business.
Pawz Playstation, Grooming, Boarding and Daycare is in the plum-colored building at 955 236th St., in North Liberty, just across Progress Court from Cole’s bakery.
“It was my empty nest thing,” Bauer said.
She has always had a rapport with dogs from the time she was young. Dogs seem to trust her, she said, and she has raised and trained them much of her adult life. But it was her education as a graphic and website designer that helped give her an eye for grooming.
“I can look at a picture of a dog’s cut, and just do it,” said Bauer. “My friend told me it’s because I can see the outline of the design.”
She also knows that the result of a good grooming session is more than just a handsome looking pet.
“The most rewarding part is the look that comes across a dog’s face when they are done, and they feel good,” said Bauer. “They give us kisses, their tails wag and you know they are just happy. We give our dogs hugs all the time.”
Bauer said she also has a knack for looking beyond the fur and frou-frou to connect with animals. She has been able to groom many dogs that have proven to be a problem for others. Part of her process is to play with the pooches before getting down to business.
“We want them to be totally comfortable before they even get on the table,” said Bauer. “They become my dogs until their owners come back, and I treat them as such.”
Bauer is going all-out to provide a homelike environment for her daytime and overnight charges as well. Daycare is available, and the dogs are allowed to run and play all together in a playroom equipped with chew toys, climbing apparatus and a large picture window where they can watch people come and go. Daycare groups are limited to 10 pups per area, so nobody– dog or human– is overwhelmed by too-large crowds.
Pawz Playstation also has overnight boarding, but there are no cold kennels with barred dividers there. With the help of her husband Duane and son Dakota, the Bauers remodeled the open space into dog-friendly digs, with daycare rooms, an office space, a grooming room and individual overnight suites, with doors and windows, dog cots elevated just off the floor and incandescent lighting. Yet to come is a penthouse suite, multi-level with a large windowed balcony that will look over the rest of the boarding area. With roomy interior dimensions and slat-sided exteriors painted to look like cottages, the décor will be more Pier One than pound puppy.
Further, the dogs are never alone at Pawz Playstation. Even if she comes across an aggressive dog that prefers not to play with other dogs, Bauer said she and her staff will give every dog individual attention and playtime. Toileting is done outdoors under human supervision, but otherwise all care and grooming is done indoors.
“There is a human here 24/7,” Bauer said. “We are not like everybody else, and customers tell me that all the time.”
The boarding suites are able to accommodate up to three dogs from the same family, depending on their size and compatibility. Bauer does personality testing by appointment to make sure new dogs are friendly with their peers. That way, even dogs who are waiting for a grooming appointment can run safely with other dogs if they choose, rather than be isolated in a crate.
“Safety is our first priority,” Bauer said. On daycare days, big dogs and small dogs are separated for further comfort and security of her canine clients.
Pawz Playstation currently has three boarding suites, with six more suites and the penthouse slated to be ready by Nov. 1. Bauer is still taking new clients and boarders, but her booking calendar is filling fast. She encourages people who will be traveling for the holidays to make reservations now.
Check the Pawz Playstation website for information on the facility, pricing, a list of services, or to download and fill out a boarding application, at www.pawzplaystation.com . Call 319-861-8699 to set up an appointment or ask questions. Paws Playstation also runs frequent specials and discounts which can also be found on the website. The site’s “who we are” link offers background on Bauer and her current second groomer Shanna, but Bauer said there are others who have helped to make this new venture possible.
“I could not have done it without my husband and my son,” she said, who regularly help out in the salon with bathing and caring for the dogs.
And above all, she said, are her furry four-legged clients.
“For me, it’s all about the dogs,” Bauer said. “It’s never about the money. Dogs are therapeutic for me. I just love being around them.”