Musher reopens dog grooming shop

All About Dogs won’t be closing after all. Anne Pittens will keep Robbie Benoit’s dog-grooming business open until his health improves…

All About Dogs won’t be closing after all.

Anne Pittens will keep Robbie Benoit’s dog-grooming business open until his health improves enough so he can return to work.

Forced to close his business two weeks ago because of cancer of his bladder and lymph nodes, Benoit thought he would have to find a new location once his treatment ended.

But Pittens will reopen All About Dogs in its former location on Fourth Avenue on Tuesday.

“It works out beautifully for both of us, because I had figured I would work at a hotel or doing whatever over the summer, so finding out that somebody needed a dog groomer, which is what I do, was great,” says Pittens.

“So I have a job and (Benoit) has his business to come back to. It’s one of those things. Sometimes life just comes together.”

A lithe, bright-eyed woman, Pittens says she’s always adored dogs.

For the past decade, she’s run her own dog-grooming business in Ontario, a job life sort of pushed her into, she says.

“I owned 16 huskies because we were dogsledding, and I thought I had to learn how to cope with the dog hair, or be buried by it. So I asked the local groomer there if she would teach me.”

After training at that shop for six months, Pittens liked the business so much she ended up buying it, and has been a professional dog groomer ever since.

Pittens says she’s always wanted to see the Yukon.

Last February, without knowing a soul here, she arrived in town during Sourdough Rendezvous.

“I came up by myself, just for the party at Rendezvous, and there just was something about the place, and I thought, ‘I want to come back and see it when it’s just regular Whitehorse.’”

Back home in Brantford, Ontario, (Wayne Gretzky’s hometown) Pittens and her husband agreed it would be a good idea for her to return for the summer, as their only child is now an adult and has left the family home.

Since dog grooming is a rather specialized business, Pittens thought she’d have to take any work that came up.

But when people she met during Rendezvous read an article in the Yukon News about Benoit’s plight, they called Pittens with the news.

She hesitated for a while, tentative about bothering a sick Benoit, but eventually made the phone call — and got the job.

“I came up for 10 days, and here I am, six weeks later, back for the summer. I’ve been warned that I’ll never leave,” she adds with a laugh.

An experienced musher, Pittens is used to — and is passionate about — huskies, which is a good thing for a Yukon groomer, as most of Benoit’s clients are huskies.

But she says Benoit’s 10 to 15 dogs a day is a bit much for her, and she estimates she can only groom between eight and 10.

“People just need to be patient while I get accustomed to working in a new shop because I’m using all of (Benoit’s) equipment, and not my own.”

She plans to run All About Dogs exactly as Benoit has done — offering drop-in sessions only, and will stay open Tuesday to Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thursdays, when it’s open 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Benoit plans to spend as much time as his health and energy allow in the shop as well, she adds.

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