Her business is…Going to the Dogs
The shivering, yipping and regular pacing show Jane’s hatred for taking baths, but, thankfully her owner Bridget Zierke has no problem giving them.
Zierke, a Blue Earth native, enjoys taking care of her dogs so much, in fact, that she decided to make a living taking care of other people’s, too.
The 20-year-old understood there was a need for a local dog groomer, so she filled the position.
“I knew I would have enough clientele to make it,” she says.
After graduating from Blue Earth Area High School in 2009, Zierke planned to go pre-med at the University of South Dakota, but also took a part-time job grooming pets and found that was what she truly wanted to do.
She went on to earn a grooming license, and this past May, Zierke opened Barking Beauties in downtown Blue Earth.
The shop offers a variety of grooming options, from baths to haircuts to toothbrushing, and even nail-painting, a popular choice among the poodles.
Size doesn’t matter, and the services are available to small and large dogs alike — even if it is a bit of a trick getting a Great Dane into Zierke’s bath tub.
Black or white, short-haired or long, each pup gets the same quality treatment. However, Zierke does admit to having a favorite type of client to work with.
“A well-behaved one,” she says.
Zierke has always been a fan of animals, and as a child had hoped for a pooch.
Her parents’ first solution was to get her a rabbit, but by the time she hit the fifth grade, Zierke got the pet she really wanted — her first puppy, a tan-haired Lhasa apso.
Years later, she’s taking care of that same Lhasa apso, as well as a long list of other dogs. While starting a business certainly didn’t come without its challenges, Zierke just considers it to be a learning process. Her father owns a farming business, but since farming and dog-grooming have their differences, Zierke said he wasn’t able to provide a lot of helpful advice on the endeavor.
Despite the challenges, she prefers to be an owner rather than an employee elsewhere.
“It was more stressful working with other people,” she explains.
More people means more dogs in the shop at one time, making it extra difficult to keep them all happy if certain breeds don’t get along.
Though she hopes to hire her own employee within the next year, grooming multiple dogs in the same room is a challenge she’s willing to take on.
When the fur is finished flying and the sheers are put away, Zierke heads home, where she’s once again greeted by man’s best friend, or friends for that matter.
Zierke shares her house with her smallest dog, Jane, a 240-pound mastiff named Daisy and an adopted German shepherd named Bandit.
“I really liked (Bandit’s) personality, which is what I go off of when I buy a dog.”
It was only a coincidence that Zierke ended up with three females, and she appreciates their submissive, non-territorial nature.
“They don’t try to pee all over my house,” she joked, explaining how female dogs can sometimes be easier to manage than males.
If Zierke ever expands Barking Beauties, she’d like to develop into a boutique, having products such as pet shampoos and conditioners available for sale.
Whatever expansions are made in the future, Zierke can assure clients they won’t lose their local groomer.
The most rewarding part of her job is knowing how happy people are to have a place to bring their pets that’s right in Blue Earth, where she intends to stay.