by Lou Mancinelli

Oh So Pretty’s owner, Sue Worton, grooms a poodle named Fiona, owned by customer Erin Bythrow. (Photo by Bruce Kravetz)

Many of the new business owners featured in the Local tend to be individuals who were looking for a change in life, something different, something that made them feel more fulfilled.

And so it has gone for Mt. Airy resident Sue Worton, who quit her more-than-40-year job in the nursing industry before buying the Oh So Pretty Pet Grooming Salon, the award-winning dog and cat grooming salon formerly located at 7150 Germantown Ave. in Mt. Airy, now located in Glenside.

If your dog is the type to bark, get upset or try to run away from you come grooming time, or you want a quality cut for you canine at Oh So Pretty, Worton and her experienced staff offer “highly personalized attention” to all the dogs and cats they groom. But they specialize in working with anxious dogs, or dogs who have had previous negative grooming experiences. And they do it without medication and without muzzles, barring any extreme cases.

“The dog might be nervous or have fear of a stranger,” said Worton, 66, early in 2011. “It might not be properly socialized. It might not like to be around other dogs.”

The new, larger upgraded facility located at 248 N. Keswick Ave. in the Keswick Village Shops, where it was relocated last February in the name of expansion, boasts individual grooming rooms, something you will not find at Petsmart. They allow staff to give each dog the personal attention it needs. Oh So Pretty also carries high-end all natural food, as well as other supplies in its retail space.

“We want your dog to have a good time, but we also want to educate you,” said Worton, who took over the business in August.

The staff also offers tips about the proper way to feed and groom your dog at home. It is simple things like brushing right, from the skin out. And, according to Worton, spending more money on healthier food leads to paying less at the vet.

Worton’s own history with a bad grooming experience was with her first Bichon Frise, a white furry lap dog who got cut the first time he was groomed.

Worton then searched the area for a groomer who could work with her dog without medication because she felt “it was just unnecessary to do to a dog.” Just shy of a decade ago, she met a woman in Abington who knew how to groom difficult dogs without using medication.

As time passed, the husband of the woman in Abington became terminally ill, and Worton’s groomer planned to sell her home, purchase a mobile home and roam the American highway with her dying husband. The Abington woman groomed a number of Pomeranians for a Havertown family. She asked Worton if she would be interested in learning how to groom anxious dogs. And so Worton learned how to groom dogs and how to make dogs feel relaxed while you work on them.

“You try to work with it and get the dog used to being at the groomer’s and being comfortable,” said Worton, a mother of three (including one adopted child). “You let them think it is an OK experience … I’m a person who is interested in people and dogs, not paperwork.”

It was too much time spent doing paperwork and not enough time spent with patients that finally caused Worton to quit nursing and her last position as a hospice nurse. “That’s not how I wanted to spend my time with people who were dying. I didn’t want to do paperwork. I understand it’s a necessary evil. But my energy wasn’t where I wanted it to be.”

She was working in her garden last year when a woman who used to walk Worton’s dogs passed by her home. The woman asked her why she wasn’t working. Worton told her she had quit. They continued to talk, and the woman asked Worton if she would be interested in working for a friend who needed help with a mobile dog grooming business.

Soon afterwards, Worton was contacted by Tina Grello, the former owner of Oh So Pretty who asked Worton if she wanted to buy that business. “I thought, wouldn’t that be nice?” said Worton. “I took almost all of my retirement money and bought the place. I’ve never been happier.”

But the biggest challenge Worton is facing is not giving an Australian Blue Heeler or Golden Retriever the right kind of cut for their coat type, or dealing with a hyperactive Terrier, or the dogs yapping in the background (after their 60- to 90-minutes session) during our telephone interview but with “learning how to run a business.”

For more information about Oh So Pretty Pet Grooming Salon, 248 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside: 215-690-4696, www.ohsopretty.net or ospdoggie@aol.com. Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sporadic Mondays. Cats by appointment only.