When Heather Bedingfield and her husband were working on building her dog boarding/daycare business southeast of Nevada — Heather’s Fur Babies — they put in two rooms for dog grooming, even though they didn’t plan to offer grooming services themselves. They were thinking that maybe some day, they’d add grooming.
Some day is here. A good friend of Bedingfield, Allyn LeDoux, 24, has taken over the grooming rooms with her business, River Dog Grooming Co., a business name she dreamed up. “As cheesy as it sounds … it literally came to me in a dream,” she said. And the two businesses — Heather’s Fur Babies and River Dog Grooming Co. — are a perfect fit for each other in the beautiful new pet facility on the Bedingfield property.
“Heather and I have the perfect arrangement and work very well together,” LeDoux said. “I was very grateful she started Heather’s Fur Babies when she did (in early 2016), as I needed a great place to take my dog.”
It was after LeDoux went through an apprenticeship for dog grooming and became fully trained that Bedingfield mentioned the idea of them setting up shop together. “That invite has since bloomed into one of the best opportunities I have ever had,” LeDoux said.
Dogs have been part of LeDoux’s life since she was young and growing up in Burlington. “Almost every job I have ever had has been animal-related in one way or another. I started out pet-sitting as young as middle school, then worked as a boarding attendant for a vet clinic while in high school. I’ve worked as a stable hand in horse barns, as a veterinary assistant and as a wildlife technician. I’ve only ever had a couple jobs that weren’t animal-related, and honestly, I wasn’t a fan (of the other jobs).”
LeDoux said after high school she was originally on track to go to vet school, but she had a change of heart and decided she wanted to work with animals in some different way. So she studied wildlife and did some field work in that area after graduating. Then, at some point, she decided to broaden her horizons and learn how to groom dogs.
“I just love being around dogs all the time. They are the only creatures I have ever known to love unconditionally, so I feel like there is a lot that we as humans can learn from them,” LeDoux said.
She especially enjoys breakthrough moments when working with dogs. “Sometimes I get dogs who are just absolutely terrified of something; maybe they were previously abused, maybe they’re just naturally nervous… When you have been working with that dog on overcoming their fear and they have a moment where they finally just let go and trust you, it’s such a great feeling. It really makes my heart so full to get to spend my days with these furry, little four-legged creatures, who make even the worst days so much better.”
LeDoux said she wasn’t really thinking about starting a business of her own at this time, but pep talks from family and friends convinced her to take the plunge, and she’s found it incredibly fulfilling to do so. “I find myself very much to be a leader instead of a follower, so I love that I get to build this thing from the ground up and make it completely my own.”
She offers full-service dog grooming, and said that eventually, she’d like to operate her business from more than one location. Her husband Ryan is a maintenance mechanic for, ironically, an animal company, Nestle Purina in Fort Dodge. “My husband has a great career in Fort Dodge, so we hope to move to be somewhere between here and there, and when that happens, I will be able to conduct business both at Heather’s Fur Babies and out of my own home. She believes covering more area will be an advantage. So many people in small towns have to travel quite far to make it to a dog groomer, so by having two locations, I can reach more of those people,” she said.
For now, LeDoux is fully focused on serving her customers in the Story County area. “I want to have a good relationship with all of my clients. I want to be able to call them all by name when they walk through my door. I want to bond with and establish a relationship of trust with the dogs that come to see me. I want them, and their humans, to be excited to come here,” LeDoux said.
She hopes that all her pet parents will feel comfortable and confident that they are leaving their fur kids in a safe environment, where they will be treated well. “I am very excited to meet all humans and fur kids alike,” she added.
LeDoux can be reached at 515-215-6093 or through a message from her Facebook page: River Dog Grooming Co. Both River Dog Grooming Co. and Heather’s Fur Babies Dog Boarding and Daycare are located at 24541 670th Ave., Nevada.