By 3:30 Thursday afternoon, Annette Keighley and Barry Hastie’s last three charges were tired. Tito, Lily and Pippa laid quietly in their play area. Soon they’d be taking the “bus” home.
Keighley and Hastie co-own , a six-month-old business on Main Street in North Reading that caters to pets and their owners. They bathe and groom dogs, primarily, but also cats and other animals and provide day care for dogs – and transportation between their homes and Friendly Paws.
The unique part of their business, they said, is their pick-up and drop-off service. Hastie holds a commercial driver’s license to ferry clients in a large van.
Both Keighley, who grew up in North Reading, and Hastie, from Woburn, have dogs of their own. Keighley has a photo of her Bishchon poodle, Max, 2, and Maltese poodle, Diesel, eight months, at the front desk. Hastie’s Maltese, Belle, is 5.
Keighley and Hastie met at school – a pet grooming school in Medford. A dental assistant for many years, Annette went to school to learn to groom her own dog. Then she decided, she said, to open a pet care business.
Barry planned to open the same kind of business even before he finished school. Before he became a business owner, he was operations manager for a chemical company. The job moved overseas, he said.
Friendly Paws takes dogs up to 35 pounds in for day care. They watch new clients carefully, Hastie said, when they join the day care dog pack. They have to behave, Hastie said. Otherwise, they get a time out.
Dogs can spend half a day or a full day in day care. In the beginning, “We recommend half-day care,” Hastie said, so they can acclimate. One particular four-footed client makes a beeline from the front door to the day care area, Hastie said.
Hastie subscribes to several dog behavior newsletters. Keighley reads “everything I can” on the subject. “There’s always something to learn,” she said.
Keighley and Hastie hope to expand their day care service, they said, by fencing an area behind the building so they can take larger dogs.
Friendly Paws’ prices for grooming and day care are competitive, according to both co-owners, based on their research.
They also offer physical therapy for pets, including aquatherapy to help reduce inflammation and pet accouterments, from designer-label clothes and carriers that “you probably won’t find,” Hastie said, “in a ‘big box’ pet store.” Uggs products are popular, he said.
They also occasionally offer a class in CPR and first aid for dogs.
“Now we’re a little guy,” Hastie said, like a Labrador puppy that will grow in proportion to its big paws.
Friendly Paws, 213 Main St, North Reading. Open Tuesday through Saturday,
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For an appointment or more information: 978-207-1922 or friendlypawsllc.com.