Hurricane Harvey Pushes Mobile Dog Groomer Back Home to Marble Falls
MARBLE FALLS — With a strong shake, Palmer managed to soak Ashley Montandon and just about everything nearby in the mobile grooming trailer. Montandon laughed and took it as just part of her routine.
“I have a messy job,” she said after Palmer, a sheepadoodle dog and a regular client, finished his shake. After patting him off with a towel, Montandon pulled out the blowdryer. “People will ask, ‘Why does it take so long to dry a dog?’ Well, they have a lot of hair.”
Montandon, owner and operator of Hill Country Hounds Mobile Grooming, opened her operation in April and is still building up her clientele. She’s not new to pet grooming, or even Marble Falls, but Hurricane Harvey’s winds pushed her in a new direction last fall.
A 2000 graduate of Marble Falls High School, Montandon began grooming dogs as her “mommy business” because it allowed her to work around taking care of her four children. She quickly discovered she loved dog grooming and eventually opened a brick-and-mortar pet business, Paws by the Bay Grooming, in Palacios. Folks in town told her the location she chose never flooded.
That was until Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Texas coast in August 2017.
“I had about six feet of water in my shop,” Montandon recalled.
Fortunately, she took steps before the hurricane made landfall and moved all of her grooming equipment to her home. Soon after the storm dissipated, Montandon set up shop in her sunroom.
“I had clients who needed their dogs groomed,” she said.
After a few weeks working out of her house, Montandon decided she needed a change. In December 2017, she returned to Marble Falls with her four children. From the start, she knew she wanted to go mobile. Montadon needed something that supported her lifestyle as a mother of four active children as well as ensured her clients got personal, at-home — or at-business — service.
She ordered a custom trailer, designed specifically for mobile dog grooming. She also added her own touches to better reflect her personality and emphasize her commitment to caring for each dog.
“My clients and their dogs, they’re my family,” Montandon said.
Being mobile has its perks for pooches and their owners. Montandon can set up shop at a client’s home or business, where the dog stays inside until its appointment. Then, it’s just a short walk to Montandon’s “office.” If a client has multiple dogs, Montandon takes them one at a time.
“It’s much less stressful on the dog,” she said.
Montandon pointed out that mobile grooming might be more of a luxury for some people due to the higher fee she has to charge compared to a brick-and-mortar shop. However, for people with two or more dogs, that levels out. Plus, for those with limited mobility or who don’t want to drive into town, a mobile dog groomer is convenient.
For Montandon, picking up and starting over came with some stress, even if she did return to her hometown.
“I have to build my client base up all over again,” Montandon said. “I had some great clients in Palacios. It’s challenging, but I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.”
As a groomer, Montandon is always learning and improving her craft. She attends workshops and continuing eduction programs through the American Kennel Club. She’s currently working toward her master groomer’s certification through the National Dog Groomers Association of America.
It’s all for the dogs.
After a good shake, Palmer settled down — as much as a young sheepadoodle will — and let Montandon get back to drying him. Just behind Palmer, the words “hello gorgeous” on the wall sum up what Montandon strives to do with each of her canine clients: make them look their best.
“I love what I do,” she said. “If you’re not doing what you love, then why are you doing it? Find what you love, and, you know, go after it. That’s what I tell people, and it worked for me.”
Call (830) 265-3647 (DOGS) or go to hillcountryhoundsgrooming.net for more about Montandon’s services or to schedule an appointment.
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