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Charitable dog wash turns into hairy, noisy celebration

Angie Walther greets Rufus, a half beagle, half collie mix that was none too pleased to be getting a bath. Rufus let his voice be heard loud and clear throughout his 'ordeal.' He looked and smelled wonderful when he left Angie's Groom 'N Board Saturday afternoon. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)1 / 3
Jacque Berttunen grooms Cami, a rescue dog. Cami had marks of either abuse or neglect on her head that Berttunen gently smoothed. "She's got a good home now," Berttunen said. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)2 / 3
Newly groomed Ruby Tuesday poses with owner Dale Beireis. "Her name was Ruby and we got her on a Tuesday," Beireis explains of the moniker. Ruby Tuesday proudly pranced out the door, showing off. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)3 / 3

The fur was flying Saturday at Angie's Groom 'N Board and will be all this week.

An overwhelming response to owner Angie Walther's charitable dog wash resulted in a steady parade of mutts, purebreds, pound puppies and dogs the size of mini horses barking their way in and out the door.

It was supposed to be a one-day dog wash fundraiser for Headwaters Animal Shelter.

"The response was so overwhelming we took appointments all through the next week through Saturday," Walther said. "It's a cause near and dear to my heart."

To date, 80 baths have been booked. An assembly line of employee/volunteer washers, groomers, dryers and trimmers gently greeted their canines, whispering words of encouragement to each pampered pup.

A dog named Rufus yodeled his way through his shower. The noise level was deafening.

No one noticed.

Corona, the in-house shelter cat, stretched its long black legs out and eyed the grooming from its napping post as if passing judgment on the clientele.

Louie, an Amazon parrot boarding for the week, greeted customers from his cage in the front entryway and bid them adieu, or birdspeak sounding like that.

Kim Barr said she came in to help because she anticipated a busy day.

She was running a towel brigade of laundry, hauling wet towels to the wash and replacing them with newly dried linens.

When customers came to pick up their gleaming and primped dogs, they were told what the value of the services would have been. They then made good will donations into a drop box.

The six groomers weathered the tufts of airborne fur and barking, although the humans probably hocked up a hairball or two at the end of the day. A wastebasket quickly filled with every imaginable color of dog hair, which also littered the floor and the walls of the shower room.

"Was she good? Did you have to muzzle her?" asked Cresant Anderson and Dale Beireis when they came to pick up "Ruby Tuesday."

"She did really good with her bath," groomer Jacque Berttunen said. "She was fabulous."

Berttunen turned her attention to Cami, a "shelter dog."

"You see, she's still got some marks on her" from either abuse or inattention.

"She's got a really good home now," Berttunen said, caressing the dog's mane.

On the next table over, Jaime Duke was gently brushing the burrs out of Dandy's ears. The dog seemed to arch with each stroke of the brush, clearly enjoying the TLC.

Jan Rothe was covered in a cloud of fur, smiling as she brushed each dog. None knew the last dog on her table had gotten the same special treatment, too. They all thought it was theirs alone.

Mark Orre acted as a "Gal Friday," running errands, getting pizza and checking on the rowdier guests. Receptionist Victoria Harju seemed accustomed to the hairy mayhem around her.

Maureen Fischer was in the washroom, trying not to get soaked. Her calm approach seemed to let the panicked pups know she wouldn't hurt them.

Then came Thor, a 10-month old horse in the body of a chocolate lab-like creature. He knocked Jacque to the floor as she tried to head him into the shower room. She picked herself up and marched him up a wooden plank, cinched him to the wall and began administering his wet fate. She was panting from the effort and likely bruised on her backside. Thor didn't break a sweat.

No matter how much Maureen and Angie reassured Rufus, his high-pitched yodel sounded throughout the establishment.

It seemed he was voicing the canine equivalent of customer satisfaction. Because if he was complaining to management, they turned a deaf ear to it.

As of Saturday night, they'd raised $1,400 for the Animal Shelter. Angie said their goal of $2,000 was easily in reach for a one-day fundraiser that morphed into a two-week test of stamina.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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