Thursday, November 10, 2016

Dog Town Club Pet Grooming and Pet Hotel


Although I've driven past Dog Town Pet Grooming many times and I've seen their posts on FB I've never really given them much thought since my little ankle biters don't need any pet grooming. However, last night Saem (the owner and groomer) messaged me and asked me to swing by and check it out. Since I had some free time I thought, "Why not?" I mean, I'm sure there there are lots of folks in the Pyeongtaek Restaurants & Things To Do Group have dogs with long hair and might need a recommendation. Plus, I'm just generally curious. I've seen FB posts for Dog Town and I've never been able to figure out what to think.

So, last night I grabbed my soy pumpkin spiced latte at 커피에 반하다 and headed over. The shop isn't huge and it's located maybe a 5 minute drive straight out of Camp Humphreys main gate just before Korea Mart. The shop is also only open by appointment. You can't just stop in and check it out.

When I arrived it was a little awkward at first. Saem is very reserved in English. It's difficult for him and he struggles through details with diligent efforts. It's very hard for him and I know how that feels. That is me on so many days in Korean. So after torturing him with questions in English for a little bit, I decided to switch to Korean so I could learn more and help him feel more comfortable. That's when he really came out of his shell and just started talking and talking and talking about his feelings concerning dogs, vets, grooming, customer service, etc.

Which brings me to something I want to talk about, language barriers. On FB and in person it can be VERY hard for Korean's to communicate their feelings, experience, and services. Sometimes it's hard to know if you are being taken advantage of, or if it's just an in ability to clearly understand each other's intentions. Which is why I try to speak to local business owners both in English and in Korean. It gives me a better idea of who they are, what their motivations are, where their passion comes from.  Even if I can't understand 100% of what they may tell me in Korean, I can learn a great deal from their manner and use of the language which tells me a lot about who they are as people. 

That said, here are my cliff notes from my visit with Saem:
  • He is passionate about what he does and deeply cares about the animals. 
  • He even pays attention to their skin and their coat and will let you know if there are allergies or health issues. 
  • He works with clients from Camp Humphreys and Osan because he feels a connection with Americans and their priorities for their pets. 
  • Dogs that stay with him (for the pet hotel services) stay in his home and he doesn't keep them kenneled the entire time, he lets them play and roam. 
  • He doesn't want to rush through a cut, he wants to do it right. This isn't his job, it's his passion.
  • His specialty is Cocker spaniel cuts. 
  • Big dogs are no problem for him and what he does the most.
  • He wants to be affordable and fair, but also needs to charge a reasonable price since he has 25 years of experience (Which I agree with. This isn't a chop shop. This guy knows what he is doing.)  
  • A basic cut for a large dog is going to run 60,000W. As you know, more demanding and complicated requests will need to be negotiated, but Saem is reasonable and he isn't' just thinking about the dollar signs. He is trying to find a balance between quality and affordability.
  • For this pet hotel services, it's 20,000 per day for small and medium dogs and 40,000 per day for big dogs.  This isn't just a "leave them in a cage until I get back" situation. Although I haven't been to his house, his no-sense attitude and passion for animals makes be believe he is going to do a good job.
Here are some questions that you need to ask so that there aren't any misunderstandings with ALL dog groomers:
  • Will my dog be sedated? It's a common practice to sedate dogs who get upset during grooming in order to decrease their stress, protect the groomer. This is not unique to Korea. It's done in the states as well. However, in Korea they may not ask you first and so it might be a shock to you to learn about it after the fact since we are used to having these things cleared with us ahead of time.  If you DO NOT want you dog sedated you need to be clear about this up front.  You must be clear about your expectations on this.
  • If there is a change in the price, will you contact me? Sometimes what groomers begin working on the dog they discover that there are more issues than they expected. You need to make sure the groomer understands not to do anything extra without checking with you. This is a complicated part of doing business outside your own language in a new culture. 
  • What does the service include? Will the toenails be clipped? Ears cleaned? etc. Be sure to understand what services are being provided. Every groomer is different and you might expect something will be done, but it's not. You also might expect something else to be left alone, but the groomer includes it in their service. 
Is Saem all cuddles and rainbows when you meet him? No. He is intense and serious, but when he starts talk about dogs you see his sincerity and it feels deeply honest. If my dogs had long hair I would bring them here at least once to try it. Honestly, this guy is super passionate about animals and taking care of them. There is also a cultural and language barrier you will need to work through. Be patient and make sure all your needs and expectations are communicated.

If you don't feel comfortable there are always other options to try.

For a Reservation text or call 010-4000-9614






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