Weekly Feature



2017-07-13 / Business

New dog care business in Depew focuses on small scale grooming, training and ‘play care’

by ALAN RIZZO Reporter


Three-year-old Cobe, a West Highland terrier, gets a little TLC from pet stylist Catie Forma Tuesday at Custom K9 in Depew. Located at 5150 Broadway, the business specializes in grooming, training and supervised play for dogs in small groups. 
Photo by Kathleen Kramer Three-year-old Cobe, a West Highland terrier, gets a little TLC from pet stylist Catie Forma Tuesday at Custom K9 in Depew. Located at 5150 Broadway, the business specializes in grooming, training and supervised play for dogs in small groups. Photo by Kathleen Kramer After her boss announced her plans to close Transit Road dog grooming business Canine and Company, veteran pet care professional Colleen Donovan and her co-workers decided to open their own shop down the road.

And while their former employer has reopened her doors, Donovan still plans to provide personalized service to the business’s clients and their dogs, and keep the Canine and Company family together under the name Custom K9.

“Some of us have worked together for five, six years; I didn’t want to go and do something on my own without having them with me,” she said, noting that the new, smaller space is better for employees and dogs alike. “This is just a lot easier. It creates an environment where we can all work together and help each other out, and makes life — for us and the dogs — much less stressful.”

Along with Donovan, the business employs pet stylist Catie Forma, behavior specialist Savannah Mages and day care supervisor Emily Steinbarth, as well as jack-of-all-trades Steve Terry.

Making the move to 5150 Broadway, Custom K9 offers training and “play care” for dogs with a staff to dog ratio of one to 15, which Donovan said is important in reducing stress.

“If it’s anything over 15 dogs, we always have a second staff member available,” she said, explaining that her past experience and the practices of industry professionals dictate that it’s best to keep to a standard of 7 to 10 square feet of space per dog. “The more dogs you put into a space, the higher the stress level, and the more likely it is that there’s going to be an incident.”

In that low stress environment, trainers are able to teach basic obedience skills with positive reinforcement techniques and address behavioral problems such as resource guarding.

Along with play care and training, Custom K9 offers grooming, which also reduces stress, using coat sprays that are made onsite with essential oils, and shampoos with no harsh chemicals.

Dogs are dried off with cool versus heated dryers, an additional stress reliever, and the business offers walk-in nail trimming services, Donovan said.

The smaller ratio of staff to dogs also comes into play in grooming, so that if dogs don’t want to be groomed, there is a staff member available to provide support.

“If a dog is having a hard time, or doesn’t appreciate being groomed, there’s an extra set of hands that can work with the dog and soothe the dog while the groomer is trying to get her job done,” Donovan said. “There’s never a situation where we’ll force a dog to do something that it absolutely can’t handle doing.”

Since opening March 15, Donovan said Custom K9 has seen strong support from approximately 50 percent of Canine and Company’s clients, and she hopes to add an additional position in day care as business picks up.

To learn more about Custom K9’s hours, services and promotions, visit https://www.facebook.com/wnycustomk9/ or https://www.wnycustomk9.com/, or call the business at 473-7575.

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