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For pups, pampering and primping

Penny Lanich runs a day care spa for dogs, providing socialization and grooming for dogs of all sizes. She and her staff at Paw Prints for Penny cut and color hair. They care for teeth. They do not polish nails.

Lanich has been into animals for most of her 46 years. In fact, she wanted to be a veterinarian. She has three horses and three dogs: a Great Dane, a German shepherd and a smooth fox terrier. She also is the mother of three grown sons.

People Talk: What do you do with all the dogs' hair?

Penny Lanich: I just dispose of it, but some people want it to keep deer from their gardens. You can also spin it into items like purses.

PT: Do you paint dog's nails?

PL: We don't anymore. It's very time-consuming, and for a dog to be still that long -- it's just too long. We do hair coloring, but not all over. We try to keep it tasteful. We'll color ears, tail, feet, ponytail. We do pink, blue, green, gold, yellow, orange depending on the time of year.

PT: What is your signature?

PL: My bandannas are an extra-special touch. We are very detailed about what we do. Our dogs leave with a finished look.

PT: How do you finish a dog?

PL: You scissor everything up to make it neat and proper and proportioned. We start with clippers but finish with scissors.

PT: You learned this where?

PL: I went to the M and M School of Dog Grooming in Kenmore. Then, of course, you learn a lot as you go along. My course was 12 weeks, and that was back in '88.

PT: Do you remember your first client?

PL: A little Sheltie. I was nervous about touching him, working on him with tools. I didn't want to hurt him. I wanted to make him happy. I wanted to make him look good.

PT: Do you think a dog can tell when it looks good?

PL: Oh yeah. They look good and feel good. I have dogs that know when the bandanna's coming out. One client puts her bandannas in a certain drawer. Her dog will open it to get the bandannas out. One client can't say my name on the phone because the dog will bark and run and won't stop until they leave the house.

PT: Not everyone can be a dog groomer.

PL: I've always loved dogs. I was a volunteer for Guiding Eyes for the Blind for many years. Every dog has potential. They might not be a working dog. They may be a companion dog and love a person.

I always wanted to be a veterinarian, but I didn't like the idea that I may have to euthanize a dog. Their life is in your hands.

PT: How do you get a dog to like you?

PL: Some dogs need space. You don't want to go and grab a dog and say: You must love me. They don't know you. They have the mentality of a 3-year-old child. Think about it. They'll hide behind your leg if they see somebody new. Give the dog time to love you.

PT: Can a German shepherd be groomed?

PL: I love German shepherds. Not only can they be groomed, they must be groomed. Their nickname is "German shedder." If you ever have one, your house is covered with hair if you don't get that undercoat cut. They need a lot of maintenance.

PT: Poodles seem to clean up well.

PL: They don't shed as much because their curly coats grow longer. Some people don't believe in giving their dog a haircut over the winter, and then in spring give them a shave down. You'll have a less attractive dog with less healthy skin.

PT: What breed presents the most challenge?

PL: You're talking about level of difficulty? The Chihuahua, because they're very delicate and they can get very defensive. I have encountered a few I couldn't do.

PT: Have you been bitten?

PL: Yes. I've gotten faster over the years. You read their body language. I can tell in the first five minutes if that dog is going to bite me -- or try. We do use muzzles if we know the dog is aggressive. We need to get the job done.

PT: How do you pamper yourself?

PL: Haircut, facial, massage.

PT: Is there a trend in dog grooming?

PL: A lot of people ask for a puppy cut, which is a fluffy cut that is easy to maintain. The dog has more of a puppy look.

PT: What do you do for fun?

PL: I ride horses out in Elma. I have a little stable with three horses. They keep me pretty busy at night -- dogs barking during the day and horses neighing at night.

email: jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com