For this episode of Community Conversations we spoke with Laura and Markus Becker, the owners of Kaiser Pet Care in Woodbridge.
Q: So you guys have a business called Kaiser Pet Care. So give me just a brief description of what your business is.
LB: Kaiser Pet Care is a grooming business that focuses on providing individualized care for pets. Giving them the time that they need when they get groomed. Giving them the attention that they need. Some dogs, for example, are afraid of going to the groomer – they need more time, they need more patience. So we strive to do that. We also don’t crate our dogs, so that makes it a little bit different as well. And we only utilize organic products.
Q: Your business is here in Woodbridge. And you’ve actually come from Germany to the United States. So tell me a little more about that journey. Like, what made you decide to come to the United States, and of all the places, what made you decide on Woodbridge?
LB: I was actually raised in Omaha, Nebraska and my husband is from Dusseldorf, Germany. And we wanted to come back to the states – we have family that actually lives in Rockville [Maryland] and we wanted to find a place nearby. And we found this lovely log cabin in Woodbridge, which we’ve been told it happens to be the only log cabin in the county, so we operate our business from there.
Q: Not only with the grooming, but you also take in adopted pets, like rescues. Tell me a little bit about one or two of the rescues that you have now or you’re getting ready to come to your house.
LB: So we do some work with some rescues – local rescues in Virginia and in New York as well, out of state. Currently we have a foster dog – his name is Bo. And he was rescued from euthanasia one hour before he was going to be put down in Texas. And he’s living with us, he’s been living with us since April, and he’s a lovely dog. We’re also in the process of fostering another doggie with another cruelty case and we’re very excited to be able to contribute to that.
Q: Your environment is a little bit different than say some other ones. What makes your environment better for a rescue dog that you’re trying to rehabilitate or just for it to get better, to be able to go to a home.
LB: Well we are actually animal lovers, so we’ve had animals for all of our lives and we enjoy being with them. We also have our own dogs – we have a Rottweiler dog and we have a Lab dog. And they’re very lovely, they get along with everybody. So it helps socialize the foster dogs that we have. A lot of them need to decompress, which is you know, once they’ve been in a cage for so long and they haven’t been socialized or they’ve been in a shelter for a long time, they need to get out into the world again. So being in a family with other doggies in a natural environment, we have a lot of space to run – fenced areas, as well – it’s also a good thing.
Q: What motivates you to do the work in the community that you do? So you do like the dog grooming at the animal shelter? Explain to me what you do there.
LB: Yeah, we also do the grooming at the Prince William County shelter. They always need volunteers and helpers, and so we understand their need and we give free haircuts basically, for the doggies that are about to be adopted, or that need help. It makes such a big difference because they feel refreshed, they feel like somebody took care of them, and they look great. So this is something that helps them get adopted a lot faster. In regards to Prince William County shelter also, we walk the dogs. And I know the fact that they need help with people taking the dogs out, so whoever’s watching this, if they can also give them a hand that would be wonderful.
Q: And so you’re also even going where you’re actually advocating for the shelter. So you’re going to the county to talk about that, or?
LB: Yeah, so we’ve gone to the Town Hall meetings to remind them of the shelter’s needs. Right now they have an overpopulation of cats, for example, they need a lot more space. We really want to encourage them to keep that project going for the new shelter to be built before 2020.
Q: So tell me about your dog, Bo.
LB: We have our foster baby right now, our dog, has hip dysplasia. For example, he needs a surgery – a very expensive surgery. And that’s another thing we’re doing. We’re doing a crowdfunding thing for him. So people can help pay for this, because otherwise he will never get adopted if he doesn’t have surgery.
MB: He has hip dysplasia in both hips and he needs surgery, and he needs hip replacement in both his hips. And we will never get him adopted unless we get a fundraiser for this.
Q: And about how much does it cost to actually get that done?
LB: They quoted us between $4 and $4.5K [thousand] per hip replacement. So around, you know, $8-$9,000 bucks. So I mean, who’s going to adopt a dog that has that problem. It’s very difficult.
Q: So you actually have a crowdfunding place for that.
LB: Yeah, a GoFundMe.
Q: So what has been one of your most difficult dog cases?
LB: Well, when it comes to grooming, you know you have to be very patient about how you handle the dog. And a dog is not a doll. It is not a object. It’s a living sentient being. So one of the most difficult cases that we had recently was with a doggie that was growling and barking at us when he came. He would not allow us to touch him. And we actually had to work with him very, very closely for about what was it – like an hour?
MB: One and a half hours.
LB: One and a half hours to get him to trust us and to actually allow us to groom him. He had never been groomed before. So that was a big success.
Q: So you’re actually willing to take the time to make a dog feel comfortable, to get the grooming done, so they’re not under stress and all that.
LB: Yeah. And we also train puppies since [a] very early [age], so that they feel comfortable with grooming as a positive and happy experience.
Check back for the next episode of Community Conversations.