Valeri Stallings, second place winner in the 2021 Lake County’s 1Team 1Dream competition (1Team 1Dream is a non-profit organization dedicated to the premise that small businesses are the heart and future of Lake County.) She’s dressed in her usual outfit; jeans and sweatshirt and running shoes, talking to a client with two dogs.
The client, Clare Tanti and her small dogs, Leroy, 5, and Mabel, 4, who had just finished having their nails trimmed. “I found Valeri on Google and she had really good reviews. Everything was easy, I pulled right up and got them right in.”
When Tanti exited, another client drove up and came in. Groomer, Julie Moyer, was ready for Sheryl Jones with her brindle rescue, 2-year-old Abby, who was going to be bathed in the new grooming trailer. Pretty seamless.
Jones, from Kelseyville, told how she found Stallings on Google. “I called other groomers and no one called back but Send Rover on Over. “It’s my first time coming here. I love the area and what she’s doing.”
Stallings was quick to point out that she’s friends with all the groomers in the area and that they are just so busy, which was the purpose of her adding grooming to the day care; “It was to reduce the impact on the area’s great groomers because they were so busy.”
Meanwhile, Stallings spoke of 1Team 1Dream. “It’s an amazing organization. It was a journey for me to participate in. I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed being with likeminded business women and I formed new friendships and enhanced other friendships.”
The most difficult part of the competition Stallings said, “Was to really participate wholeheartedly. It’s time consuming so I had to adjust my business schedule to accommodate what was required for participation.”
“The application process,” she continued, “was lengthy; they have to decide upon dozens of applicants. Also the workshop formulating your winning business pitch that is going to make you standout as a business investment for the community is important. 1Team 1Dream wants to make sure the winner will provide a valuable service to the community.”
Stallings opened her first doggy daycare in 2002. In 2005 five groomers from PetSmart walked out of their jobs and asked me, “Do you have a place to groom here?” Stallings laughed her hearty laugh, “I had a utility closet that was plumbed, and from then on we had a grooming service.”
With the $12,000 prize money from 1Team 1Dream, Stalling bought a used cargo trailer, which her husband refurbished, putting in over 90 hours. He added a new hydraulic tub, hydraulic grooming table (so the groomers wouldn’t wreck their backs), a water heating system that provides constant hot water, two high powered dryers enclosed to reduce sounds, all the equipment such clippers, equipment, tools, brushes.
“We can do mobile events with the grooming trailer,” said Stallings, “expanding when needed.”
Since the competition she has added one daily groomer and one daily bather. “We might need another bather in the near future.” She has five daycare employees/attendants, who supervise the dogs at play and make sure they all get along. “We do a temperament test to make sure incoming dogs are social. The temperament test includes: 1. A phone call. 2. Is the dog super social with other dogs? 3. Is it spay/neutered? 4. Is the dog up-to-date on vaccines? If all are answered correctly, then the dog comes to daycare for a half-day new dog orientation. If that works out, then they are “in!”
One can’t go to Send Rover on Over without looking at the Mut Hut to see where dogs have their sleepovers. “Weekends are when most dogs come for overnights,” said Stallings as she showed off the “Mut Hut.” Between 12 to 2 P.M. when the staff breaks for lunch is when the dogs take naps in the “doggy suites.” One regular sleepover dog, Sir Reginald, aka Reggie, has his own bed in the Mut Hut, with his nameplate next to it and a sign above it that reads, “A spoiled rotten dog lives here.”
“After a lot of interaction during the day, the sleepover dogs are happy to come in here and just sleep,” said Stallings as she pointed out the different ‘suites.’ All are separated with pens and some kennels.
Having won the prize for the “fan favorite” in the 1Team 1Dream completion, Stallings donated the $500 prize money back into the pot for the 2022 competition. “I have so much respect for all the organizers of the 1Team 1Dream competition. They are genuine people who want to make a difference in Lake County’s business society.”