Shop, Cats and Dogs Reign Supreme"
"Sadie trembled a bit, but she didn't make so much as a whimper. The customers here never do. They are forever content – without collars or leashes – to have their nails clipped, their coats brushed and trimmed. Whatever Debbie Folds deems necessary, they simply comply.
On this morning, both Sadie and
her sister, Zelda, are here to get ready for their owner's christening
ceremony. They were in last week, but you can't very well attend a
christening with your nails looking like claws and your bangs too long.
"When I left Houston in 1978," Folds said, "I decided I couldn't go corporate anymore." And so Folds, 52, returned to Atlanta. She went to work at a kennel, cleaning dog runs and feeding boarders. At $75 a week, the pay wasn't so great - but she didn't miss the cut-throat atmosphere of the banking business. She didn't miss having to worry about whether clients liked her. And if they did, would they the tomorrow or the next day?
Working with clients like Sadie and Zelda was different, they always treated you the same. When Folds decided to open her own business, she sat up in bed one night and saw in her mind's eye her store marquee: That Marvelous Dog. The four-legged friends, she said, "have been my buddies ever since."
"Haven't you?" Folds says to Sadie. She hands the bichon over to her assistant Karen Gundaker and Gundaker hands her Zelda. Since that day in 1978, she has worked in every aspect of the animal business - veterinaries, kennels and grooming salons. Last year, she added certified trainer to her resume. "Now you wait a minute," Folds says to Zelda as she cleans the maltese's eyes. "You're nasty. There you go. You did it. You did good." "Your bangs gone in your eyes yet?" Folds asked as she brushed Zelda's hair. "We're not going to get prissy with this."
Folds and Gundaker used to work around the clock. But to keep her clients coming back, she schedules no more than 12 a day. It's her way of keeping her paying customers happy and making sure each dog and cat looks his or her absolute best.
The all-important personal benefit, Folds said, is the consistency the animals pour into her life. "At the end of the day, they're going to be the same," she said. "They're an incredible gift." Folds says she connects with animals in ways most people don't, a fact that Gundaker and some clients are quick to give credence. They say Folds talks to the canine and feline clients.
"I've been her best friend for 25 years," Gundaker said, "and she does. Sometimes when I'm in the back, I'll say 'Did you say something?' and she'll yell back 'no.'" Clients insist Folds is a regular Dr. Doolittle. But they don't call her doctor. They prefer Aunt Debbie.
1830 Piedmont Ave.
Hours: 7:30 - 6:00
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All images used with permission from their respective owners.
That Marvelous Dog is a registered trademark of That Marvelous Dog.
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