In a newly renovated downstairs location on Main Street next to Slate Gray Gallery, Dirt Dawg Co. opened for business in mid-December, offering self and staff dog washing, grooming and a full array of pet retail products. Inspired by a long-held dream to build a life in Telluride, owner and operator Lindsey Poirier moved to the San Juan Mountains from Boston nine months ago to escape the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve always been one to challenge the norm,” Poirier said. “It’s a huge undertaking, but it’s also an opportunity to push limits.”
Comfortable with and passionate about dogs, Poirier, 24, identified a convenience niche for a new dog spa in town, given that the closest dog groomers are located in Ridgway and Montrose.
“Something was missing here,” she claimed. “For every human, there are, like, two dogs. Telluride needs more places that provide services for what the town’s all about. My business is designed most of all for year-round locals. I want them to come in and be able to use and afford what I’m offering and to feel appreciated.”
Dirt Dawg Co. offers $15 self-washes, which are especially handy for emergency post-hike washes, in two pro-grade tubs with access to soap, dryers and towels. Staff washes, which run $55 and usually take 45 minutes to an hour, include a dog wash with shampoo and conditioner, brush-out, and full drying.
“In the winter, especially with small dogs, it’s dangerous to send pets outside when they’re even a little wet,” Poirier explained. “That’s why I’m staffing two people to make sure we have enough hands with all of the animals so we can ensure that they are properly taken care of.”
Not all dogs enjoy being washed, and Poirier says it doesn’t matter how long it takes to work with a dog, if she can ensure that they’re comfortable by the time they leave, then that’s a win.
“It’s about taking your time, talking to the dog and building trust so that they’ll want to come back,” she said.
Beginning Monday, Poirier will offer full dog grooming services at competitive rates, depending on dog size, behavior and requisite length of time. Clients will select specific services upon booking.
“Certified dog groomer, Rachel Gatt, who’s worked at Petco in Montrose, is already familiar with the Telluride clientele who traveled down there for dog grooming,” Poirier explained. “She’ll be offering traditional nail clipping, fur trimming, matt removal, styling, all catered to mountain dogs.”
Poirier says the months leading up to opening her business involved “family, all hands-on-deck.” Upon securing the space in September, her father flew out from Maine and spent six weeks with Poirier gutting and building-out the shop space, which now includes a washing room with two steel tubs, a grooming table, and a display area for retail products and pet foods.
Her close friend, longtime local and dog-lover Stacey Plunkett, who died in early December, was an especially strong supporter of Poirier’s emerging business.
“A former dog groomer herself, Stacey was a great person to bounce ideas off of,” Poirier said. “As we were building out the space, she would come and pick-up Pip, my four-and-a-half-month-old yellow lab, and they’d go for hikes.”
Poirier’s mother also flew out and helped with curating and ordering the mountain dog retail inventory.
“We have that cool gear you didn’t think you needed for your dog but which makes so much sense when you see it,” she explained.
Retail items include waterproof doggie sleeping bags, mountain carrier packs, performance treats and first aid kits for dogs; 10 different kinds of dog foods, bones, leashes, collars and clothing; feeding bowls, disposable bags, a selection of CBD products, toys, beds and blankets. She even carries cat food, products and toys, and tends to offer merchandise from women-owned businesses.
“We’re trying to design the store to be your one-stop dog shop, offering thoughtfully curated and sourced merchandize at reasonable online-matched prices,” she said. “And if you don’t see something you’re looking for, we’ll order it, especially dog foods.”
Moving forward, Poirier is looking for opportunities to collaborate. For example, she is working with Jenny Karcsinski, who offers mobile veterinarian services across the region, to use the shop to drop off and pick-up materials. She is also supporting Second Chance Humane Society, a nonprofit out of Ridgway, by collecting financial and gently used pet product donations like leashes, collars and bedding.
“I’ll be making a donation to Second Chance in Stacey’s name,” said Poirier. “And in the future, I’d love to host adoption and fundraising events out of the shop to support Second Chance.”
Dirt Dawg Co. is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We are willing to stay longer or come in earlier or fit people in for washes to accommodate peoples’ work schedules,” Poirier added.
Bookings can be made by visiting the shop at 215 East Colorado Ave., Unit 1, via the Dirt Dawg Co. Facebook page or by calling 970-239-6448.