Groomed for grooming

DOG LOVER A Gilroy resident and owner of Morgan Hill’s Canine Concepts, Jamie Ha has been grooming pets for more than 20 years. Credit: Robert Eliason
Even as a kid, everyone knew Jamie Ha would grow up to be a pet groomer.

When she bought Canine Concepts at East Dunne and Monterey Street in Morgan Hill in 2015, Ha had nearly 20 years of grooming experience under her belt. And that didn’t even include her early work with pets when she was just a child—Ha says she used to bathe and fluff-dry her grandmother’s little toy poodle.

“And she’ll tell you, she knew I was going to be a groomer when I was young,” Ha says.

With a staff of six and a breadth of four decades of experience between them, Ha and her team offer full-service grooming to pets big and small.

From tiny chihuahuas and small yorkies to Great Pyrenees and Newfoundlands, Canine Concepts doesn’t discriminate—they also groom mastiffs, pit bulls and the occasional feline.

“We do do cats, I have a groomer who does the kitty haircuts,” says Ha.

Pets can come in for a basic treatment or they can get the works.

“We do anything from nail trimming to full service grooming,” she says. “We do the a la carte services, just nails, feet trimming, feet brushing.”

At Canine Concepts, your pet can even get styled in the colors of your favorite team especially for game day.

“We do dye dogs—we have a special hair color that’s used—a pet safe hair color,” Ha says.

She says they can mix any color to make nearly any design.

“We’ve done panda bears, we’ve done mohawks, we’ve done jerseys for the San Jose Sharks,” she says. “We’ve done Sully from Monsters Inc., Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster. Most people just do tails and ears and maybe little boots.”

Ha says the most used colors are pinks and purples and the blue teal for the Sharks fans.

At $30 for a basic grooming, dogs get their ears, nails and glands taken care of.

Top that out to $65 and they’ll throw in a nice haircut for your pooch.

“All shampoos are natural and organic and I also offer a variety of veterinary-grade medicated shampoos,” Ha says.

Other tools of the trade Ha and her staff employ to get pets looking their best include scissors, stripping knives, clippers, dematting tools, rubber brushes, slicker brushes, nail trimmers, the high velocity dryers and specially designed tables.

But what if your dog is aggressive, timid or simply isn’t into the experience?

“We don’t discriminate against any breed—we’ll taken them all,” she says. “We have special training with the handling of aggressive and elderly animals.”

The room where the grooming occurs is large, so there’s plenty of room for a variety of breeds and personalities.

“If the dogs are very mild-mannered, they don’t’ try to escape and they are not aggressive. We’ll allow them to not be kept in the kennel—they can stay in the salon,” she says. “It helps nervous dogs. Once they see there are other dogs acting normal and having a good time, it calms them down a lot. So we try to do as much outside of the kennel as we possibly can.”

While Ha says she has the most fun with her staff, she calls one her craziest stories, rehabilitating a stray, filthy, scruffy puppy, a terrier mix with cuts, ticks and matted hair.  

“Houdini was a stray dog in our town and we ultimately caught him and rehabilitated him at the salon—put him through rescue and helped him find his forever home,” Ha says.

Even with the busyness of operating her own business, Ha loves working with dogs.

POSH STYLING Jamie Ha and her staff get pets looking their best—offering full service and a smile to all breeds and pet personalities. Ha with indispensable staff Kira Burns, Gayle Guernsey, Argelia Juarez, Catherine Combe and Kimberly Bailey.

“Nothing beats working with animals,” she says. “It can be a little bit stressful from time to time. Nothing beats their personality—nothing beats working with dogs.”

Ha says it’s not just the dogs that enjoy the experience, but the humans too. She has clients that come weekly, biweekly and monthly, but most are on a six- to eight-week schedule.

One customer, Shelly Canario, has been taking her pets to Canine Concepts for six years,  regularly bringing three furry visitors into the shop. Canario was also able to reach out to Canine Concepts during a particularly difficult time.

“I had three dogs, 2 shih tzu’s and a chihuahua,” Shelly says. “I recently put the Chihuahua down but the staff was always so gracious to allow me to bring Suzy in every other week even though she did not need to be groomed. It was my two shih tzus that needed the bi-weekly grooming, and they always welcomed Suzy to stay so she did not feel left out.”

These added touches bring all the comforts of home to the salon.

“One of my favorite memories is when I was pregnant,” says groomer Kira Burns. “There were two dogs I groom, Tater Tot and Malibu, that would follow me everywhere I went. Malibu would press her nose against my belly. It truly was an amazing feeling.”

An experienced dog and cat groomer, Burns met Ha after leaving Petco to work at Le Pooch Dog Grooming and Dog Boutique in Morgan Hill. Burns followed Ha over to Canine Concepts. Now with seven years of professional experience, Burns says she loves working at Canine Concepts because of the staff and the clients.

“I love working with [Ha] and she has taught me so much as a groomer,” Burns boasts.

“We have some of the best dogs and the owners always make you feel so good about the work you do,” says Burns.

Debra Eskinazi
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About Debra Eskinazi
Debra Eskinazi is the editor of South Valley magazine.