High-end pet studio of entrepreneurs to pamper dogs and make their dreams come true



Imagine a room of velvet sofas, a chandelier and a bar serving beer and wine. Not for you – for your dog.

Little pooches can lay back on the hot pink Wayfair cushions or in a custom nap bed. Toto and Fluffy may be asking the bartender for more soup broth in their beer can or wine glass; otherwise, they might lap up fresh water from a nearby bowl.

Both Pomeranians and Chihuahuas can stare at a television screen. Freshly trimmed Yorkies might chase each other around the perimeter of the room. Across the hall a dog could be bathed and groomed.

That’s the vision of Carly Reimer and Nikki Carruthers, owners of The Neon Dragon, a new pet studio.

“It’s our little baby,” Reimer said of 3075 Ness Ave., which was under construction on a recent Monday.


DANIEL CRUMP / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Neon Dragon “is our little baby,” says Carly Reimer, along with co-owner Nikki Carruthers with their dogs Peep and Viper. Ness Avenue Pet Studio is set to open later this spring.

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DANIEL CRUMP / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Neon Dragon “is our little baby,” says Carly Reimer, along with co-owner Nikki Carruthers with their dogs Peep and Viper. Ness Avenue Pet Studio is set to open later this spring.

She and Carruthers sat in the bright pink finishing room, where the dogs will be taken after their coats have been lathered and dried.

Both have worked in the dog grooming and boarding industry for over a decade. Recently, they decided to bring their dream of a luxury canine studio to life.

There’s the black-walled ultra K9 living room, The Neon Dragon’s version of a dog daycare. In addition to sofas and beds, there will be scheduled guest activities and, as the name suggests, neon lights, the co-owners say.

Pet owners can buy their dogs a makeover, complete with grooming, ear waxing, berry facials, aloe nose treatments, cologne and a finished photo, if they wish.

“We like big dogs. We just wanted to create a safe space for the little guys to play.
—Carly Reimer

The grooming side is open to dogs of all sizes. However, only those 30 pounds and under can get a spot in the ultra lounge.

“We love big dogs,” Reimer said. “We just wanted to create a safe space for the little guys to play.”

She and Carruthers operate on the basis of past experience. Old workplace horror stories shape The Neon Dragon — or rather, they remind owners of what they don’t want their business to be.

Carruthers transitioned from hairdressing to canine grooming around 2010.




<p>Daniel Crump/Winnipeg Free Press</p>
<p>Viper, Nikki Carruthers’ dog.</p>
<p>” width=”683″ height=”1024″  data-srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/NEP196471_web_Neon-Dragon-BG.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images /600*600/NEP196471_web_Neon-Dragon-BG.jpg 600w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP196471_web_Neon-Dragon-BG.jpg 700w”/>								
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<p>Daniel Crump/Winnipeg Free Press</p>
<p>Viper, Nikki Carruthers’ dog.</p>
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<p>“(Hairdressing) wasn’t my passion,” Carruthers said, adding that she didn’t plan on owning a salon, so she didn’t see any room to grow.			</p>
<p>A friend suggested Carruthers switch to dog grooming.  Soon, four-legged friends were running around his workplace instead of two-legged customers.			</p>
<p>Reimer joined the same dog daycare and grooming salon in 2012, fresh out of college with a degree in graphic design.			</p>
<p>“I graduated and I was like, ‘I don’t want to do graphic design,'” Reimer said.  “I’m creative and I love animals, so I applied to every dog ​​place I could.”			</p>
<p>Carruthers trained Reimer on scissors and clippers, and a bond formed.  Over the next decade, the two bounced between yards, often working with each other.			</p>
<p>“We just realized that none of the things other people do is the way we want to run (a business),” Carruthers said.			</p>
<p>In one place, groomers were doing their job in the middle of a noisy nursery.			</p>
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<p>Daniel Crump/Winnipeg Free Press</p>
<p>Peep, Carly Reimer’s dog.</p>
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<p>DANIEL CRUMP</p>
<p>Daniel Crump/Winnipeg Free Press</p>
<p>Peep, Carly Reimer’s dog.</p>
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<p>“We literally couldn’t hear,” Carruthers said of the barking.  “We don’t want an environment like that for the dogs.”			</p>
<p>She cited the lack of activities for the animals – besides running – as another issue.  And safety was a major concern.			</p>
<p>Carruthers said she brought her Pomeranian and Italian Greyhound to a yard that housed much larger pets.			</p>
<p>“I was just stressed because we don’t know these dogs,” she said, adding that she recalled an incident in 2021 where a Siberian husky killed two small dogs at a care business for pets in Winnipeg.			</p>
<p>Last September, Reimer spotted a listing for a former pet studio.  She nudged Carruthers and the two ran around the property.			</p>
<p>They realized that owning a business could be “difficult, but not too difficult,” Reimer said.			</p>
<p>“We were like, ‘OK, we’re done moving around. Let’s do our own,'” she said.			</p>
<p>The couple moved into the Ness Avenue location and established the ground rules, including a tough stance against large dogs in their living room.  One side will be for dogs 10 pounds and under, while the other – which is physically separate – will hold those 11 to 30 pounds.			</p>
<p>There will be no outdoor space for animals.  This eliminates the risk of pets jumping a fence or being hit by a car, owners said.  Instead, there are designated potty areas inside.			</p>
<p>A short walk from the grooming stations and daycare is what Reimer and Carruthers call the Selfie Lounge.			</p>
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“A lot of dogs have their own Instagram accounts,” Reimer said. “I would love to do that all day, just take pictures of me and my dogs.”

For a fee — starting at $33 per hour for one person and their pet — patrons can use the room, complete with props and lighting equipment, for photo ops.

“We thought it would be really cool if, after a groom, people could come over there (with their pets),” Reimer said, adding that people could bring other animals, like lizards, To take pictures.

The Neon Dragon plans to host critter parties, where staff will trim the nails of hamsters, rabbits, and other small creatures.

The waiting list for The Neon Dragon services is already growing, Reimer said. Its doors will open later this spring, if construction is on schedule, she added.

For now, the duo will be posting updates — and photos of their dogs — to their website and social media pages.

[email protected]

Gabrielle Piche

Gabrielle Piche
Journalist

Gabby is a huge fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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