<bt>After more than 25 years of grooming and coifing the dogs of McLean, Lisa Vaughn has finally opened her own store in town. She was a longtime groomer with the now defunct Dog Collar grooming facility. Her store, called Custom Canines, is the only full-service grooming shop in McLean.
“McLean has a lot of custom dogs, and I wanted something that just rolled off the tongue, so I picked this name,” said Vaughn. They groom an average of 20 dogs on a weekday and as many as 50 on weekends. Even though Custom Canines has been open for only a month, it has a wealth of clients.
“We’ve got between 700 and 800 regular clients. They know me from before. But a lot of people are dying to know where I am. Before I opened up here, I couldn’t tell anyone where I was going. I still have people looking for me,” said Vaughn. Assistant Kim Telesz said, “Everybody here loves the dogs. People don’t come here for the name or for the location — they come here for the groomers.”
One customer went to extreme lengths to find her after Vaughn’s previous place of employment closed down. The client learned they had the same accountant and called that person asking if she could be put in contact with Vaughn.
LOYAL CUSTOMERS SAY it’s Vaughn’s caring and compassion toward their animals that has them following her around town. Nancy Lidford’s 9-year-old Soft-Coated Wheaten terrier Maddy has been a client since she was a puppy. “Maddy loves her. She won’t let me put a brush to her, but Lisa has a way with animals,” said Lidford.
Lidford travels from Vienna to have Vaughn groom her dog. “It’s well worth coming over there. I wouldn’t go anywhere else,” Lidford said.
VAUGHN SAID the three groomers, one assistant and two bathers at Custom Canines, must all love animals and adhere to her strict standards. “My big thing is tender loving care. The dogs love coming here. They come barreling in here, which is a good sign. I wouldn’t want to leave my dog in a place where they didn’t enjoy being,” Vaughn said.
Telesz said, “Everything here is state-of-the-art. We aren’t a backyard mom and pop.” This includes air dryers that don’t use heat, which could burn an animal. Vaughn also refuses to use sedatives on more anxious clients. “On the more persnickety ones, we might have the owner stay with them, sometimes that helps. Other times it’s better if they (the owners) leave because, just like kids, they sometimes behave better when Mom isn’t around,” said Vaughn.
Custom Canines will do custom cuts on Fido and Fluffy if it’s possible. Vaughn once cut a dog to resemble Grace Jones for a special event. “We will do anything the customer wants us to do as long as it’s humanely possible,” Vaughn said. That includes cutting cats as well as dogs and offering nail service. “We will paint nails. We are Custom Canines, and we have fun with it,” said Vaughn.
One of the special touches at Custom Canines is seasonal bandannas instead of bows. Bows are still available, but the bandannas have been very popular, according to Vaughn. Top-of-the-line shampoos and conditioners are also used at the facility. “People can also bring in their own shampoos, and we store them here,” said Vaughn.
Grooming costs are determined by breed. The basic haircut starts at $60, and larger breeds can be $100 or more. Cost also depends on what a client wants done. “Shaving is cheaper than hand-scissoring a dog,” said Vaughn. Custom Canines doesn’t just cater to pedigreed animals. “We do mutts, too. All kids of dogs come here,” said Vaughn.
Custom Canines is located next to the Langley Shopping Center at 1352 Old Chain Bridge Road, on the first floor. It can be reached at 703-506-DOGS.