Local woman treats her kids to a day at the salonJill Bisson brought her kids to the salon for the full treatment. The staff pampered brother and sister, washing their hair and doing their nails. The salon’s proprietor even gave the duo a treat. Meko and Tanuki, both 5, didn’t smile after the hourlong session.
By: Robb Jeffries, Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Jill Bisson brought her kids to the salon for the full treatment.
The staff pampered brother and sister, washing their hair and doing their nails. The salon’s proprietor even gave the duo a treat. Meko and Tanuki, both 5, didn’t smile after the hourlong session.
They merely wagged their tails.
Jill said her two purebred Shih Tzus are as much part of the family as she or her husband, Jim. The Bissons, of Grand Forks, might not have human children, but Meko and Tanuki are more than canine companions.
“These are my kids,” Jill said. “We might be a little overprotective of them, but they are family.”
That’s why Jill and her pups have a standing appointment at Best Friends Grooming Salon in Grand Forks. Every other Wednesday, Jill brings her dogs in for a bath, nail trim and hair touch-up.
“Most people don’t bring in their dogs this frequently,” said Cheri Dahl, owner of Best Friends. “They get a treatment on the level some show dogs get.”
Cheri said while some pet owners have scaled back their trips to the salon because of a dip in the economy, Jill and many other clients continue to pamper their dogs.
“My husband’s nicknames for them are Visa and Mastercard,” Jill said, shaking her head in disapproval.
Business has been good for Best Friends, which opened in 1993, said Cheri., who is from Fisher, Minn., said she has been adding staff to help keep up with demand. During the summer, business increases and sessions need to be booked a month or more in advance, Cheri said. Her clientele consists of many regulars, who continue to bring their animals in despite the economy.
“I think the reason is, even though the economy has slowed down, people still take great pride in having their pets look good,” Cheri said. “Everybody loves to see their pet happy and get that little kiss on the nose.”
The pampering doesn’t stop at the salon for Meko and Tanuki. Jill said the pair receive daily brushings and eat a home-cooked meatloaf made with vegetables grown in her garden and meat hunted by Jim.
The recipe includes a balance of “greens,” such as fresh kale, and “oranges,” such as sweet potatoes or carrots, along with barley or wild rice and meat, lately elk from last year’s hunt.
“You know, we should really eat this more,” Jill said.
“Sometimes, it seems like the dogs get more vegetables than we do. But if it’s not fit for me, why would I let them eat it?”
Meko and Tanuki’s companionship has solidified their place as members of the family, Jill said.
Before her passing last year, Jill’s mother, Marcia Williamson, lived with the family. She said the dogs had a very calming influence with their “grandmother,” and had the same effect when Jill’s father, Jack Williamson, died after battling cancer.
“They were very comforting for them, and you can only imagine how they have helped me” deal with their deaths, Jill said.
Dahl typically has one of her dogs with her at work. She breeds English mastiffs, which can sometimes grow to 3 feet tall and weigh 250 pounds or more. Dahl said the dogs help liven up the salon.
Meko and Tanuki help out at work. Jill, a pilates instructor, said her dogs — who are a breed known more for companionship than service — accompany her to the studio to greet and entertain customers.
“Most of them have dogs, so they love coming to the studio and seeing Meko and Tanuki there,” she said.
When Jill is away from home, the “kids” go to work with Jim, who is a locksmith.
“They tend to get into a little more trouble there than when they are with me,” Jill said. “They will hop up on his desk, and Jim will send me a picture with them laying all over his paperwork.”
Whether they are with Mom or Dad, Jill said Meko and Tanuki won’t ever be without one of their parents.
Their high maintenance requirements means vacations for the couple are on hold.
“I don’t ever want to leave them at a kennel or with someone else,” she said.
“But it’s OK, we’ll have plenty of time to travel later in life.”
Copyright 2013, Grand Forks Herald.