Scruffy dogs be warned, there’s a roving groomer on the move and she’s coming to a driveway near you. Sisters resident Michele Cormalis is the owner of Four Paws Mobile Pet Grooming, providing door-to-door salon services from her custom coach for your canine companions throughout the Sisters-Redmond-Bend areas.
Cormalis has been involved in the dog world for over 20 years as an owner, handler, breeder and trainer of English Setters. Originally from California, she competed in AKC All-Breed shows as well as hunt field-trial events where dogs are tested for their bird retrieving abilities in meadows and ponds.
Formerly known as Waggin’ Tails Mobile Pet Grooming, Cormalis expanded her territory last June with the acquisition of Steve Gardner’s Four Paws enterprise out of Redmond, merging the two companies into one. This gives her a host of new clients and ground to cover as she trailers down the highways and byways of Central Oregon in a quest to clean and fine tune Oregon’s dirty, scraggly four-legged companions.
“Steve and his wife were looking for someone to take over the business since they were leaving the area due to family health issues,” said Cormalis. “This was a great opportunity to help them out and add clients and continue his reputation providing quality grooming on the go.”
Grooming is not just for fancy show dogs or house dogs. All dogs need some sort of maintenance and care to their whiskers, coat, tails and nails. Her list of customers ranges from toy pound puppies to pure bred pets, champion show dogs and every designer breed and mix in between.
As summer approaches, Cormalis has tips for people who wish to keep their pooches happy. A clean, groomed dog is a healthy dog. She wants to remind owners to attend to their dogs more often between grooms instead of once or twice a year.
“Just simple brushing using a metal comb or stripping tool can make official grooming appointments much more productive and easier on the dog,” she said. ”Having the proper tools for different hair lengths makes a huge difference too. Bathing a dog occasionally also keeps coats shiny and clean. Ideally, dogs should be professionally groomed four to six times a year, if not more, depending on the breed. Once or twice a year is not enough and baths in the river don’t count. Sessions allow a dogs nails and ears to be checked and cleaned along with recognizing coat condition to prevent matting or skin irritations. It’s an excellent way to assess the overall health of your pet to cut down on veterinary visits as well. When bathing make sure you use a quality dog shampoo, not a human brand due to different Ph levels.”
Cormalis’ husband, Andre, is a local machinist/engineer, and fabricated and constructed the specialized interior for a stock 14-foot Cargo Mate trailer to act as her portable clinic. Included in the design is a stainless-steel wash tub, central vacuum system, heated forced-air dryers, and a hydraulic grooming table which raises up from the floor and gives easy access into the bathtub.
The Four Paws rig is a completely self-contained, plumbed, fully air-conditioned and heated, with a 3,700-watt generator and a CD player mounted to the wall. She plans on decorating the inside with paw prints and photos from her days in the ring, as well as dog art from local photographers.
Cormalis began her career as a bather at the young age of 13, and after ten years as an assistant groomer became professionally trained and opened her own salon in Monterey, California. As a junior handler in AKC dog shows, she and her dogs were often in the ribbons.
“My mom was very encouraging and urged me to keep showing dogs and supported my grooming interests,” Cormalis said.
One year at the Golden Gate Kennel Club Show in San Francisco, she was matched up against one of the top junior handlers in the country, a snobby girl she had constantly lost to in prior shows.
“She reminded me of Nellie on Little House on the Prairie. Spoiled and rude. She just stood there with her perfectly braided hair and fluffy white poodle and thought she had a lock on the win. But my dog, Jim, Indian Bend’s Bow and Arrow, showed great that day and we won. That was my five minutes of fame,” Cormalis said. ”Then the San Francisco Police Department came in with a canine demonstration unit with their horns and sirens and scared poor Jim so badly he never showed inside again. That’s a dog show for you.”
She decided to do a mobile grooming business because it offers one-on-one, personal care in a safe, relaxing environment for dogs, eliminating the stress of traveling, with no crate drying or any separation anxiety.
Cormalis presents an extensive and expanding selection of services, from cooling summer cuts to full show grooms, bathing, hand-scissoring, nail trims and teeth brushing. Four Paws uses a healthy selection of all-natural shampoos and conditioners under exacting hygienic standards. Rates depend upon breed and extent of grooming and range from $45 up and includes a full bath and nail trim.