[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]
COLUMBIANA — Dani Edgerton has spent two decades building a doggy empire in the Mahoning Valley, founded on family values and a love of animals.
Edgerton is the owner of A Place For Paws, Paws on Main and, as of last week, owner and partner of Dar’s Dirty Dogs. She is a certified dog trainer who grew up in a family with show dogs and who has helped train and handle dogs since childhood.
Edgerton opened A Place for Paws, 165 Nulf Drive, Columbiana, a dog daycare and training facility, 22 years ago.
“I started a doggy daycare because I thought it was an interesting concept, and nobody else in our area was doing it. That’s basically how I got started in this business,” Edgerton said.
Then, four years ago, Edgerton expanded her reach and established Paws on Main, located at 112 S. Main St., also in Columbiana, a pet boutique and bakery that also offers training, daycare and grooming services.
Now, Edgerton is breathing new life into Dars Dirty Dogs, an already established grooming and self-wash shop located at 3265 Canfield Road in Youngstown. The store hosted a grand reopening last week to showcase renovations to its grooming area and a newly added retail store, which Edergton described as “Paws on Main at Dars Dirty Dogs.”
“As far as what we’re bringing to [Dar’s Dirty Dogs] is a full system,” Edgerton said.
“When someone walks in, we are not going ‘Hey, there's your [self-wash] tub, have at it!’ We're walking over, we are assisting them with getting started, telling them how to do it and making sure they know what they're doing. I have multiple people there, so I don't have a person grooming who has to keep stopping and helping [customers].
All [the customers] have to do is say ‘I need help!’ or ‘I'm having trouble!’ and somebody is right there. So even though it's a self-wash, you always have an attendant available.”
Additionally, attendants will clean up, deodorize and disinfect self-wash tubs and set out towels and shampoo for the next customer.
Edgerton said Dar’s Dirty Dogs also expanded staffing with a bather, who specializes in full-service bathing which includes a bath, a small brush out, nails and ears to help alleviate the current groomer’s workload.
The shop also has walk-in nail trims and a photo area, as well as a treat and chew bar equipped with 18 treats and 30 chews options. Dog owners can pick from three different sized bags and mix and match the proper goodies for their dogs depending on age, breed, treat ingredients and more.
Edgerton owns a processing facility, located at 5229 West Middleton Road in Salem, so she and her team are able to follow each treat and chew’s manufacturing process from start to finish and ensure healthful ingredients are in each product. Although a handful of the treats Edgerton sells are not made in her Canfield facility, she still ensures healthful ingredients are in each product and said she has high standards for what she’ll carry in her stores.
“[The treat and chew bar is] a unique thing that we offer in Columbiana [at Paws on Main]. Then we also have a bakery, where we do custom cakes,” Edgerton said. “We do a lot of different unique items for dogs ... cannolis and pup-cakes and birthday cakes and cookies.”
“We also have a full line of celebration stuff so hats and toys and things they can wear around their neck … all the things for a party. We have very tough toys. That's our primary goal at Paws on Main,” she added.
Paws on Main also sells leashes, collars, bandanas, harnesses and bath items — all products that will be stocked at Dar’s Dirty Dogs retail area.
Edgerton said she’s seen a big shift in how society views pet ownership during her career. She partly attributes her success to society’s newfound infatuation of their pets.
“People love, love, love their dogs.I mean, they're not part of the family; they’re family members. People take that very seriously,” she said.
“That, of course, is why we do well, too. I mean, the only reason why you want your dog that clean is because you sleep with it, it's your white carpet, it's sitting on your couch … you know, when we just had dogs out in the backyard we didn’t really care how clean they were. So it does make a difference,” she added.
Just like Edgerton began her training career with her parents, she now operates her businesses with the help of her children: Jacob, 25, operations manager; Elizabeth, 22, groomer and handler; Serena 18, pet treat baker and photographer; and Jacob’s fiance, Audrey, who assists where needed.
Edgerton’s husband Jim, who played a major role in the family’s business, passed away in November 2020 from COVID-19. Now Edgerton and her children continue the family business in his honor.
“It was hard. I mean, it's still [hard]. That was November, and still every day one of us goes ‘Why is he not here?” she said. “But my son really does take his part in that very seriously, the fact that he is now taking over that role of making sure things get done the way Jim did.”
Edgerton said keeping busy this past year was partially a coping mechanism for the loss of her husband, but expanding has also served as a launching pad for future opportunities for her children.
“I also want to leave my kids with whatever they want of this. Whether they want to own it and run it or whether they want to sell it, I want them to have that option [in] the future,” she said.
Mahoning Matters asked Edgerton to give one piece of advice she’d give dog owners.
“That’s easy, but that’s the trainer in me,” she said. “Dogs are not people, and so they're not acting in the same way that people would act. They do what works and they don't understand our language or what we think works. So you have to think like a dog to really get in your dog's head.”
For more information on Dar’s Dirty Dog’s reopening, visit their Facebook page.