By Travis Sloat
Marilyn Doss has a very simple philosophy on retirement.
“I’ll stop grooming dogs,” Doss said, “when they pry the clippers from my cold, dead fingers.”
Robin Solzack, who works with Doss, has a simple wish for when and if that happens.
“I just hope it’s not me (doing the prying),” she said.
Doss is the owner/operator of Dandy Dog Grooming Shop, housed in a small building on Poplar Street, just west of the stoplight in downtown Fort Gibson.
The shop specializes in bathing and grooming all pets — something Doss has been doing for the last 16 years.
“I got started by working with a groomer at a veterinarian,” Doss said. “I was watching her one day and thought it was so cool to take a dog that looked horrible and turn it into a work of art. I’m an artist by heart, and I love dogs.”
Doss apprenticed with her for a year, then moved into the building she’s in now, which has been around since the 1950s.
Since then, she’s hired two additional groomers and two bathers to help her out around the shop.
Solzack, who is a bather at Dandy Dog, said she came in with her dog one day and walked out with a part-time job, working weekends as a bather.
“Marilyn won’t admit it, but she hated my dog,” Solzack said with a smile. “After I got laid off, I worked two days a week, and then about a month ago, I started working here full-time. I love my job.”
As you walk into Dandy Dogs, the first thing you notice is the eclectic mix Doss keeps playing on her iPod. This seems to have a calming influence on the dogs, which don’t seem to do much barking, although Solzack said there are days when some just won’t shut up.
“You have dogs that are going to bark,” Solzack said. “Some bark the whole time they’re here, and you go home with that bark in your head. They don’t make aspirin big enough on those days.”
Doss is a Boston, Mass. native who first moved to Oklahoma in 1991, but left and then came back again in 1996. Not one for mincing words, she said she wouldn’t move back to Boston if they gave her the state of Massachusetts.
“Fort Gibson is almost like Mayberry,” Doss said. “And who doesn’t love Mayberry? I love the small town atmosphere. Everyone knows me, and I know everyone. Owning a business, I get to be very involved in the community.”
Doss is very gentle with the animals as she grooms them, oftentimes leaning in close and whispering in their ears or just stopping to pet them.
Her peg board walls are full of tools for every job, and she uses each with a finesse and grace on par with her temperament.
Adam and Valecia Grube, who stopped in to pick up their 14-week-old pit bull puppy, were all smiles as Doss picked a collar off the shelf and snapped it around his neck.
“We’re very happy with this,” Valecia said. “When we brought him in, he smelled so bad, and now we can actually hold him. Now we just need to pick out a name.”
The Grubes aren’t the only ones satisfied with the care Doss uses when grooming an animal.
Jeanetta Manley said she drives two hours once a month from Pryor just to make sure her standard poodle and two schnauzers receive Doss’ exceptional customer service.
“My dogs get excited when it’s time to go see her,” Manley said. “I’ve been going to see Marilyn and the rest of the crew for over a year now. She’s just a really nice lady, and she does an incredible job. I’m tickled to death with her.”
Doss feels the same way about her customers, but not the ones on two legs.
“I can’t see myself doing anything else,” she said. “Half the time I can’t tell you a customer’s name, but I know their dogs by heart.”