May 26 2007
Clinton stylist is pets’ best friend

  Meet Melissa
Michaela Marx Wheatley

Simon gets his hair cut on a regular basis at Hairy Barkers. Stylist Melissa Inches and Simon have become great friends in recent months.

CLINTON — As a coiffeur, Melissa Inches knows what her clients want.

Simon, for example, likes his hair long and teased on top and clipped tightly on the neck. Like most men, he pretends to hate pedicures, but really he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“You get to really know them all,” Melissa said.

The difference between Melissa and other stylists is that she styles pets at her shop
Hairy Barkers Pet Salon in Clinton, and Simon isn’t a guy with a 1980s perm, but a fluffy little dog.

Melissa started her business in November and has already more than 200 clients and is booked for weeks in advance. She previously owned a pet salon in Oak Harbor.

The secret of her success is that she can do more than just the standard styles. She’ll customize the cut for each pet she pampers.

“I like to find their personalities and their faces and find a style for them and something that fits their lifestyle,” Melissa said.

Melissa learned pet grooming when she was on the dog show circuit. It’s a place, of course, where looks are important.

“I learned from other dog handlers,” she said.

Stella, her retired mastiff show dog, hangs out at the shop with her.

“Stella is in charge of customer relations,” she said.

Melissa enjoys her job, and for good reason. Not only can she be creative, but she is always surrounded by friendly cats and dogs and the customers are always happy.

“It fulfills me,” she said.

Return customers recognize her and enjoy their time at the salon, where the furry friends get to roam free and are only locked up in cages if they grossly misbehave.

“I have relationships with people’s dogs that I don’t even know. It’s just funny,” she said.

Melissa takes primarily small dogs and cats. But if a long-haired large dog needs styling and he is a friendly fella, Melissa will take care of him, too.

It takes between two and three hours for a wash, cut, style and pedicure.

Service is available by appointment only, which cuts the time the animals spend at her shop, she said.

Call 341-BARK to schedule an appointment.

© Copyright 2007 South Whidbey Record

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