West Milford's pets are stylin'

Doggie Doo's and Kitties Too helps keeping West Milford’s pets well groomed

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  • Biscuit Gesumaria has been a client of Lisa Mitchell for eight years. This beauty comes in monthly for a grooming and is very happy about it!

  • From left, Allison Kern, Beth Telford and owner Lisa Mitchell are the staff at Doggie Doo's and Kitties Too.

  • Lisa Mitchell even gets some loving after grooming Biscuit Gesumaria.

“I always wanted to work with animals. It’s fun to play with them, care for them and do the artistic stuff. When a client calls to tell me that their animal has passed, it breaks my heart.”
Lisa Mitchell, owner of Doggie Doo's and Kitties Too

By Ginny Raue

The month of May; budding trees, blooming flowers. Ticks and fleas. Every season has its upside and downside.

According to Doggie Doo’s and Kitties Too (DDKT) owner, Lisa Mitchell, the fleas haven’t made their presence known yet but ticks are on the prowl.

“The ticks are really bad right now,” Mitchell said and suggests keeping pets well protected.

Once a pet becomes a host to fleas there’s a good chance you’ll have to have your house exterminated as well as having your animal treated. Fleas can live anywhere they can make a nest.

Handling animals for a living leaves Mitchell open to flea and tick bites and she remains constantly alert.

“Experience and timing is everything,” she said.

The right career choice

Mitchell, 41, is married to John Mitchell and is the mother of 17-year old Matt Castone. She’s lived in the township for 15 years and has operated her business on Macopin Road for the past nine years.

“I love this town. I love everything about it, I think it’s just beautiful,” she said and added that growing up in Bergen County, where homes are often built on smaller lots, gives her a greater appreciation of West Milford’s open spaces. And, of course, she loves the commute.

When she was an animal-loving high school student, she thought about becoming a veterinarian. She changed her mind and decided on grooming and, 21 years into it, she knows she chose the right path. Keeping a pet well groomed is an artistic yet playful endeavor and she’s happy on the job.

She took a full-time, six-month training program at Nash Academy and feels that her on-the-job training continues to this day. Every animal and its needs are different and each must be treated carefully and accordingly.

Get them early

Mitchell is a staunch believer in early-age grooming and declines to groom cats over age four and senior dogs who’ve never experienced grooming since it can cause stress in older animals.

“I’ve always wished I could get the word out so people would understand that grooming is a big part of their pet’s life as well as veterinarian care, training and socialization, no matter what breed," she said. "Every animal should be subjected to all those things in their first year. I don’t like to stress pets.”

Mitchell has groomed every imaginable breed of dogs and lots of cats. At a grooming session, the pet is treated to a bath, de-shedding, haircut, nail cutting and ear plucking. Teeth cleaning and anal gland expression is available as well.

“I keep my prices very low so that clients can afford their pet care,” she said.

The felines have their turn

On occasion, a cat may come out of DDKT looking like Simba, after getting a “lion clip.”

“We leave the mane, the end of the tail, back feet and front legs. It’s done for several reasons; the owners are too busy to do the upkeep and the cat becomes matted and others have become allergic to their pets. It takes a few days for the animal to get used to it but I appreciate the fact that the owner would rather shave their pet than get rid of it.”

Who is most easy going?

Mitchell is not known for chatting with owners while she’s grooming their animals simply because each pet requires her full attention. She has been known to sing to the animals, however, and her assistants, Allison Kern and Beth Telford, use “baby talk” to calm a nervous pet.

She finds Rottweilers the most difficult to groom and Golden Retrievers, Boxers and Rag Doll cats the most easy-going.

If the animal is not matted, which often requires a shave, Mitchell looks to the customer for direction. She mentioned that keeping the coat shorter in warm weather is fine but cautions again a bald shave due to sunburn issues.

Her fanciest cuts have gone to Poodles and a Bedlington Terrier, she’s bathed and clipped nails on ferrets, because “they’re stinky” but turned down the opportunity to pretty-up a llama.

She has three pets of her own; a Great Pyrenees, a Chihuahua and a “very bratty alley cat” who acts as the sentry at the Mitchell home. How the Pyrenees feels about that is unknown.

Mitchell is most thankful for her dedicated assistants and loyal customers and looks forward to meeting many more well-loved pets.

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