Essential thoughts on the pandemic from Dirty Dog’s Blair Smith

Try telling a loyal dog owner that having their favorite pet cared for and sheltered isn’t an essential service, pandemic or no pandemic. Blair Smith will tell you, that’s a losing argument.

The co-owner of Dirty Dog Grooming and Self-Serve Dogwash talked with One Man Brand’s Ray Seggern about the starts, stops and frustrations of trying to operate small business right as the Covid-19 pandemic caused citywide closures of all businesses that weren’t deemed essential.

Those early days of the pandemic were filled with uncertainty for Smith, who was trying to lobby city leaders to convince them that animals services are essential. She also spent days at a time working to secure federal assistance – in the form of the Payroll Protection Program – while also applying grants and even running a GoFundMe campaign to generate money for Dirty Dog employees while the company’s five locations were closed.

“We were cobbling together any funding we can find and helping people survive, and trying to keep everyone on our payroll,” she said, noting that customers were so desperate for help with their pets that one of the shops tallied 43 voicemails in a matter of days. “Owners don’t have equip and knowledge. Everyone still has to go to work and not all dogs can be alone everyday.”

Smith knows the fierce loyalty dog owners have for their animals, and said she and her team members make sure to treat customers’ pets the same as they would members of their own family.

“We treat our guests as we do our own dogs… Our goal is to become a part of the dog’s family,” she said.