The Dirty Doodle, a dog boutique and self wash at 236 Main Street has recently joined forces with All That Jazz Grooming to offer the best products and services you can find for your favorite fur baby. We sat down with owners, Karyn Millerick and Sarah Castine to discuss how these two business owners came together around their love of dogs and shared sense of giving back to the community.
HOW DID YOU COME TO BE BUSINESS PARTNERS?
Sarah: I came on (at The Dirty Doodle) in November of 2020 after I started a grooming business. I had been laid off during the pandemic, and I came back to grooming and Karyn was like, “why don't you try it here?” And so, it was supposed to be something that would just get me through because I was doing real estate and then it blew up. We work well together. I not only like Karyn, but I can also really work with her. We don't argue about things. Her weaknesses are not my weaknesses, and my weaknesses are not hers, and we just kind of support each other. And now, we're doing the damn thing. When I met Karyn, I was like this chick is going to be my life.
Karyn: I guess that we blend. It’s not like she will say “What are we doing, Karyn?” and I will say let me hear it, and I'll decide. When she says something, I'm in. When I have something, she’s in. I got a call about doing the Heaps of Hope fundraiser. I don’t have to ask, “will you do this?” I know she is in.
WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?
Sarah: I would say that the dog is the number one priority over everything, and that even includes the owner. We will do what is best for the dog above all. And I think we treat our clients like family. We get to know them. After a while, it's like, she has young kids let’s make sure she doesn’t have to get out of the car, or this person had their knee replaced.
Karyn: One time my husband said to me, which is true, he said, maybe we should rename the place “Cheers.” So the Doodle isn't just about the dogs. For example, a very old, very elderly man came in and clearly his dog needed so much attention and Sarah noticed the hat that he was wearing and she asked if he was a veteran. He said yes and when he went to pay, she said, you already paid with your service. She wouldn't take any money.
Sarah: I like being able to do that. My dad passed with Covid in 2020. He was a Korean veteran and he was a retired police officer. If I can give back to those people, I feel like it's honoring my dad. With something like that, as much as I'm trying to help, it also does something for me. It keeps my dad alive. My dad is in all parts of what I do. He was a singer. He was a really good singer. So All that Jazz is kind of like a hat tip to him, and I always try to help veterans and first responders. Henry who cuts nails at The Dirty Doodle, he won't take money from first responders. I think we try to give back to the people who protect us.
TALK ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN RESCUE DOG GROUPS AND THE COMMUNITY.
Karyn: All of them (laughs). I've gotten involved in a lot of the rescue groups. We decided when we opened the Doodle, we would only support two rescue groups, and then God had another plan in mind. Someone came in to buy dog food and told me about Soi Dog and I just was like, oh, no, we have to do something about this. I told my family, and they said you have to get involved. I got Suki from there, and Kingsley's from Korea. And we have a whole wall at the Doodle with pictures of (rescued) dogs.
Sarah: And then I came in and said Karyn, there is a rescue called Vintage Pets and they only take old, crusty, disabled dogs and she was like, we are in. Through Vintage Pet Rescue, I adopted Tom Collins, a 12-year-old, Chihuahua, who is the craziest dog I've ever met in my life. The amazing part about (Vintage Pets) is that you're considered a forever foster, so when you adopt these dogs, they cover all medical, anything the dog needs, until the dog’s last day, and they're completely volunteer-based and completely nonprofit. They take the oldest, the crustiest, one-eyed, two-legged dogs - that’s what they do.
Karyn: I think volunteering has opened us up to so much more than just the dogs for us. When the epidemic hit, I can't even tell you how many masks I made for places that needed them around here. A whole bunch of nurses from Lahey got together and had a picture taken and sent me a thank you. I think you start off with one thing, but if you open up your heart you get so much more involved.
Sarah: And you meet people through all of this, and it always comes back to you. I feel like when you do these fundraisers and support other people, it always comes back, and we've have gotten new clients from that. And you know, it makes you feel good because you're helping people, but it always comes back to you.
WHAT IS MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT THE WORK YOU DO?
Sarah: I would say I would never quit doing this over a dog. It’s the people that want their dog to be an accessory rather than a little living being. We're always going to offer what's best for them. What's healthy for them. What makes them feel the best. Some people have unrealistic expectations and don't really have any idea how to care for these dogs. They get Doodles because Doodles have been marketed to be low maintenance, and they are the least low maintenance dog there possibly is. You need to brush them. You need to maintain their coats and things like that. And it feels like it's an educational process that we try to offer. But it's hard when people want what they want and don't really take into consideration what's best for their dog. And there have been times where we have had to say no. The phrase is humanity over vanity, and I think that's how it needs to be. It’s never going to be a dog that is the issue, because dogs have rescued me through all stages of my life.
TALK ABOUT THE NEW DOGGIE PLAYGROUP YOU OFFER.
Karyn: We decided to do a playgroup. Not a daycare, but a playgroup. Where just a small number of dogs can just learn to play. And in talking to our customers, they totally got on board, because they could see themselves that their dogs we're having issues but didn't want to put them in big day care settings.
Sarah: There are so many dogs that don't fit that mold, and we have a smaller space that we can offer to these dogs that just don't fit that large daycare mold. As somebody with anxiety, I don't like huge crowds and prefer small, intimate groups of people. I want to give that to the dogs (with anxiety).
WHAT DO YOU DO TO CALM A DOG THAT MIGHT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT BEING GROOMED?
Sarah: We have a quiet room. There's a fireplace. There's a TV that I usually put jazz on. There's a toddler bed. There's a fuzzy, little ottoman. I keep the lights really low and it's for dogs that are anxious coming to the group so they can go in there beforehand to decompress if they're nervous. They can dry in there. They can wait for their parents in there and offers like a little spot of solitude and peace. I think grooming can be very traumatic for dogs, and they don't understand why they're being left and even dogs that get groomed all the time need that little moment. We both have anxiety issues and I think because of that, we understand them a little better. We try to create a place where they feel okay.
Karyn: We are good at reading dogs, we really are and we put their needs first, not the time schedule.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO WHEN YOU'RE NOT WORKING?
Karyn: I think being with my grandchildren for me. I used to love to just go to an exercise class, but now I weigh what time I have, and it's them over everything else.
Sarah: I like hanging out with my own dogs. At the end of the day, I know people have businesses and that's the last thing they want to do is what they have been doing all day, but it's the first thing I want to do. I want to spend time with my dogs, and as soon as I'm home they are on me. I also like going to classic car shows. My dream is to own a 57 Chevy Bel Air. The fifties are my soul era, and I like dressing up.
WHAT IS UP NEXT FOR THE DIRTY DOODLE + ALL THAT JAZZ?
Karyn: We're going to be delivering Valentine’s Day cookie bones on February 12 and we both will be in heart costumes. (Information on ordering can be found here.)
Sarah: I get a lot of mileage out of my costumes. During the holidays, we delivered orders and people came out in their pajamas to collect them and they were calling their kids down. It’s just a fun thing. I dress up and we deliver the bones that people order. Now it's a thing and we're like, what are we doing next?
Karyn: She's dressing up as a red heart and I am dressing up as a pink heart. Life is short and the stress is high. So, if we can distress a little, that is always a good thing.