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A new kind of canine rescue


The former Pet Biz in Boring reopens under a new name and ownership

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Ally Doran gives Max his last summer haircut at the newly opened Allys Dog Spa in Boring. Doran purchased the shop from former owner Kelly Carroll in August.

How does someone with a fear of man’s best friend end up in the dog grooming business?

“Being a dog groomer was never on my radar,” said Ally Doran, owner of Ally’s Dog Spa in Troutdale. “We always had animals when I was growing up, but we never had a dog. I was afraid of dogs — I didn’t even like walking past a house with a barking dog. As a child, I knew I was lower in their pack. But dogs don’t scare me any more.”

Doran has obviously made peace with her fears to prove once and for all who the alpha dog really is. She opened her Troutdale business in March 2011 and earlier last month took ownership of the Pet Biz in Boring. The grooming operation had been owned by another Troutdale resident, Kelly Carroll, who was forced to essentially close the business after she was seriously injured while riding her bike to work last April. Carroll has been concentrating on recovering from her injuries.

Doran is a lifelong East County resident. She grew up in Welches before moving to Gresham, where she attended Orient Grade School and graduated from Barlow High School. Her first job, with a dog groomer, happened by accident shortly before her 18th birthday.

“My boyfriend’s mom owned a dog grooming business,” Doran recalled. “I walked in one day, and it looked like she needed some help. So I offered to help her, and she offered me a job.”

Doran spent five years learning the trade from the owner. She started as a bather and a year later tackled the finer art of nail clipping and simple haircuts. Eventually, she became a partner in the business, until 2011, when she decided to strike out on her own.

Along the way, she learned that getting along with canine clients was only part of the business.

“People’s favorite thing to say is, ‘Well, you know, cut his hair short,’” Doran explained. “To some people, ‘short’ can be a quarter of an inch. But to others, if I cut any hair on their dog, they get upset. It’s all about communication.”

In the spring of last year, Doran had a chance encounter with Carroll, who was on the verge of opening the Pet Biz in Boring.

“She was wandering around Troutdale, liked the look of my shop and came in and introduced herself,” Doran said. “She told me she was starting her own business and asked about clippers and equipment. We spent quite a while talking shop.”

Shortly after Carroll’s accident this year, she again visited Doran and asked if she would be interested in buying the Boring location.

“I was planning to move to Hawaii, so I told her no,” Doran said. “I was training the staff so they would know everything to run the business, and then I planned to fly back once a month to keep my face on the business.”

But Doran’s plans fell through a couple months ago. Since she had pretty well set up Ally’s Dog Spa to run without her, the timing to manage a second location couldn’t have been better.

“The girls knew what they were doing, so I knew I would be able to bounce between the two shops,” Doran said. “I called Kelly and asked if she was still interested in selling and she said, ‘Yes, please! Come take it.’”

Since hanging out her shingle in Boring on Aug. 6, Doran said client calls have increased, many of them from Carroll’s former customers. She keeps one groomer on site at the shop “to answer phones, turn on the lights and make the place look like it's alive,” but plans to increase staffing for both locations.

“I’m hoping to hire another groomer so I can bounce between the two shops,” she said.

As for that recessive fear of canines, Doran has their number.

“They don’t scare me anymore,” she said, laughing. “It’s really about the games they play. If they know they’ve lost, they won’t try anything.”

More info

Who: Ally’s Dog Spa

Where: 103 W. Columbia River Highway, Troutdale, and 27991 S.E. Highway 212, Boring.

What: Full-service grooming along with individual services such as nail trimming or bathing.

Hours: Boring — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Troutdale — 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

For more information, call Ally’s Dog Spa in Troutdale at 503-492-2345, or in Boring, 503-663-2219.