Morgan Bailey-Bonner named her Ahwatukee Foothills grooming studio, Luna’s Paw Spa, after her anxious German Shepard mix, Luna, whom she describes as “a hot mess.”
She specializes in pets that many other groomers won’t take because they’re too fearful or have medical conditions.
“It’s a lot to do with the environment,” Bailey-Bonner said. “You have to talk sweet to them; you have to be calm. If you’re nervous, they sense it, too.”
Luna’s Paw Spa opened last spring in the Plaza@Mountainside, 4025 E. Chandler Blvd., near Trader Joe’s.
Bailey-Bonner offers full grooming services, including bathing, coat cuts and nail trims, and sells high-quality, all-natural products such as dental treats, grooming items and supplements.
One way the shop handles agitated dogs is by not keeping them any longer than necessary.
While many other groomers ask clients to drop off dogs in the morning and pick them up later in the day, Luna’s Paw Spa sets appointments so owners can leave a pet at a certain time and pick it up as soon as she’s finished.
Also, Luna’s gives pets one-on-one attention while they’re being groomed and doesn’t allow too many animals in the shop at once.
“We limit it so it’s not a bunch of
dogs running around barking,” Bailey-Bonner said. “It’s not like we’re checking in everyone at 9 a.m. and have everyone in kennels.”
Another way to help reduce stress is to start grooming dogs when they’re young and get on a regular schedule.
Bailey-Bonner said ideally, the first visit is when a dog is a few months old, and she’ll do a bath and a “face and fanny tidy-up” to get them used to the idea.
Dogs that are brought in once a year don’t understand what’s happening, Bailey-Bonner noted. “It’s like an alien abduction,” she explained.
Erica McGrady of Ahwatukee took her 6-month-old Goldendoodle, Phoebe, in for her second visit recently.
“As pet owners, we would love to be able to take care of those things ourselves,” McGrady said of bathing and haircuts, “but that is a lot easier with people like Morgan who are professional.”
McGrady added that Phoebe enjoys swimming, which mats her curly coat, and doesn’t like to be brushed.
“I can only imagine what magical powers she uses in there, because [Phoebe] does not like it,” she remarked.
On a Thursday morning, Bailey-Bonner washed and dried Phoebe, cut her hair and nails, trimmed around her face and even cleaned up the hair in her ears with a minimum of protest.
She then took Phoebe’s photo against a backdrop of autumn leaves and pumpkins—she changes out the scene seasonally—and texted McGrady to let her know Phoebe was ready.
Prices at Luna’s Paw Spa are competitive, Bailey-Bonner says, and depend
on the size of the pet and how much time it takes.
Luna’s Paw Spa mostly grooms dogs, but about one cat comes in each week, Bailey-Bonner said.
“Putting them in a bath is super stressful for most cats that aren’t used to it,” she said. They can get haircuts, she added, but they’re sensitive, and unless there’s a pressing reason for it, it’s better not to bathe them.
Bailey-Bonner is so good with pets
because she’s been around them her entire life.
“We had every pet known to man
growing up,” she said. “My mom is a sucker for rescuing.”
As an adult, Bailey-Bonner worked as a mobile vet tech and did grooming at a major pet store chain.
“I decided to open my own place to offer that one-on-one [care] and better quality products,” she said. “It’s better for their skin and coat and health.”
Also, Bailey-Bonner wanted to prioritize her time with her family; she now mainly works when her kids are in school. She and her husband, Cameron Bailey-Bonner, have two adopted children—Zaiden, 6, and Jay, 5—and are working on adopting Zaiden’s older brother, Marcus, 8.
Bailey-Bonner’s husband and sister, Taylor Gerdes, who’s a vet tech, help out on busy weekends, but on weekdays, she only sees five or six dogs a day and the shop is only open until 2 p.m.
Although Bailey-Bonner chose the location for Luna’s Paw Spa because it had housed pet groomers since 1991 and had all the water hookups and outlets, she noted that it needed major renovations before she opened.
However, customers loaned her ladders and offered to help paint.
“I have a really nice customer base,” she said. “They were all really, really helpful.”
While most of her business has been word-of-mouth, Bailey-Bonner said she’ll have a booth at the upcoming Ahwatukee Dog Show Oct. 30 at Ahwatukee Park giving dogs temporary tattoos with special chalk that washes out.
For people with persnickety pets that resist brushing at home, Bailey-Bonner said the key is “practice, practice, practice, and don’t give in when they do naughty things” because that rewards bad behavior. “If they go to bite you, don’t just stop at that point,” she added. “Reassure them and keep going. We don’t want to reinforce bad habits.”
Luna’s Paw Spa
Where: 4025 E. Chandler Blvd.,
No. 24, Ahwatukee
Hours: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday;
7 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday;
7 a.m.-noon Sunday.