For a printable copy of Issue 55, click here
Interview with Marie Pink of Marie’s Paw Spa
Marie’s pet grooming shop is located at 1029 Wakonda Beach Road, between Waldport and Yachats.
TYG: So how did you get involved in this?
Marie: Well, I’ve worked with animals my entire life, and I always thought that grooming dogs would be a fun business to have.
TYG: I can imagine it is!
Marie: It is pretty great! It’s a pretty fun job. It’s hard work, but you get lots of sweet puppy kisses and people really appreciate it when you take good care of their animals.
TYG: Tycho [our Golden Retriever, who recently visited Marie’s Paw Spa] hadn’t been groomed in so long—he just looks so much better!
Marie: He feels better, too! It makes a big difference in their overall health, it really does.
TYG: Yes, he’s acting more active! He’s seven, now.
Marie: That’s middle age for a dog!
TYG: So how did you get started here?
Marie: Well, when I moved down to the coast, I had three Shelties—Shetland sheep dogs. I was a care-giver, and I worked a lot of hours taking care of elderly people and I didn’t have time to groom my own dogs, so I took them to different groomers. I had a lot of very unhappy experiences with those other groomers. [...] That really upset me, and I knew I could do a better job because I already had experience grooming animals, because I grew up grooming show horses. We had race horses and show horses when I was a little girl. So I already knew how to groom. And if you can groom a 1,200 pound horse, you can certainly groom an eight pound poodle, right?
TYG-Graphic Design: The fur trimming might be a little different...
Marie: Yes, it’s a little different. But I wasn’t real happy, and I knew I could do a better job, and that I could provide a happier, more nurturing environment for them. And I was ready for a new career—I was getting burned out.
TYG: What were you doing before, again?
Marie: I was a caregiver. I took care of elderly people, and people with mental illnesses, and I did that for a very long time. But you get really tired of doing that kind of work; it just makes you mentally tired. So I was ready for a change.
TYG: How did you get to this area?
Marie: Well, that’s a great story! You might remember 9/11, when we had the bombing of the Twin Towers.
TYG: I wasn’t alive then, but I know about it.
Marie: Well, I was at a care facility, taking care of mentally ill patients, and I watched it happen on TV. I was of course absolutely horrified, and I realized that a lot of those people were dying, and their life was ending. And I wondered if they were happy with the life that they had had up to that point. And I realized that there were some goals I had that I hadn’t achieved yet. One of those goals was that I had always wanted to move back to the ocean, because I grew up in Los Angeles. I really wanted to live at the coast, and I’d always loved this part of the coast. So I said, “My goodness, I’m going to go and do something about that!” That weekend, that very weekend, I drove down here from Portland, I found a job, and a place to live, all in one weekend.
TYG: That’s awesome!
Marie: I know! So I kind of felt like—you can say God, or the spirits, or fate, whatever you want to call it—was at work and it all kind of lined up, and I was able to move down here.
TYG: We kind of had the same experience! So where did you live before Yachats?
Marie: Well, I grew up in Los Angeles.
TYG-GD: How did you take care of a bunch of horses in Los Angeles?
Marie: Actually, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, there’s a whole lot of horse ranches. And actually in Los Angeles, there are little pockets of horse ranches. [...] Where I was born, Encino, there are still a couple of ranches—John Wayne’s ranch is still up there. They’re kind of hidden up there. We had a big horse ranch.
TYG-GD: So what kind of ranch did you take care of horses on?
Marie: Well, we had quarter horses. We started out with racing quarter horses.
TYG: Quarter horses?
Marie: Quarter horses. They’re one of the original breeds that was developed only here in America.
TYG-GD: Why were they called “quarter” horses?
Marie: Because they are the fastest horse in a quarter mile. No other horse can beat them in a quarter mile.
TYG-GD: Why would you only want to go a quarter of a mile?
Marie: Because back in the days when they were developed, they didn’t have big, long, round racetracks. They just had short, dirt tracks, so they did a quarter of a mile.
TYG: I think it’s similar to the concept of drag racing.
Marie: There you go! [laughter]
TYG: It’s basically a horse drag race.
Marie: Quarter horse racing is like the NASCAR of horse racing. So anyway... I grew up with horses and I could ride a horse before I could walk.
TYG-GD: Wow, that’s amazing! We tried to put Allen on the back of a llama, but the llama didn’t like it... [laughter]
Marie: We had race horses, but we didn’t like how the horse race industry was run—it really made us very sad. So we got rid of our race horses, and bought pleasure horses for showing and breeding. We did the show circuit down in California. It was a big thing—a lot of actors were into it. James Brolin was one of the people that we saw regularly—Marcus Welby, Barbra Streisand’s husband.
TYG-GD: I didn’t grow up here... [laughter]
TYG: Mom’s from Switzerland!
Marie: Yes, okay... [laughter]
TYG-GD: And we don’t have TV, so I’m totally clueless [laughing]
Marie: There you go. Anyway, very well-known TV actor. A lot of celebrities did [the horse showing]. So, I’ve always had animals, all my life—a deep love of critters.
TYG: Me too. The dogs that I grew up with, Mom and Dad got them about a year before I was born, so they weren’t really puppies when I grew up. But they were two labs, and they were just the cutest things.
TYG-GD: Very forgiving with young children.
Marie: Labs are wonderful! Goldens and labs are both really wonderful with kids. They’re a great family pet.
TYG-GD: So how are things going here?
Marie: Well, I’ve been grooming for almost nine years.
TYG-GD: In this location?
Marie: No, I originally had a shop outside of my house in Yachats, but I didn’t own that property, and they wouldn’t sell it to me. So I was able to buy this property [in Waldport] and converted the garage into my shop, and then the house is a long-term project that I’m slowly working on, and then I’ll get it restored and I’ll be living in it.
TYG-GD: So, you’re not living in this house?
Marie: No—it’s a hundred year old house that they were going to tear down, and I saved it. It’s older than the [Alsea] bridge. Back when the bridge was being built, this was a boarding house, and some of the bridge workers lived here. Isn’t that cool? So it’s got a little bit of history to it, and it’s really a very old house.
TYG-GD: Does it have a lot of rooms in it then?
Marie: It doesn’t, and it actually was smaller, originally. They just had small rooms, but when they tore down the chimney, it had a bunch of small openings in the chimney, so they had different stove pipes going to different rooms.
TYG: Oh, that’s cool!
Marie: Yeah—the house was built in 1920, and brought in on skids. It’s probably from somewhere around here, then brought in. It’s been here longer than any of these other houses in the neighborhood. So, I started out small, and worked two part-time jobs as I started doing my grooming and got my skills up to snuff. I took some courses, and finally, after about a year and a half, I got enough clientele to where I was able to quit both my jobs and start grooming full time. Then I was able to purchase this property—and I just got it paid off, yay me!—and I have a really great clientele! The majority of my clients have been with me since I first started grooming little tiny dogs in my kitchen sink. [laughter] Now I have two huge human tubs and a small sink! It’s a big difference. You start small, and then build up. It’s been good to me—I don’t make a lot of money, but I make a living. I work hard for what I have, and I hope that I add some value to the community.
TYG: I’m sure you do! So can we have a tour?
Marie: Well, there’s not that much to look at—right now it’s pretty rough. Matter of fact, this year I’m going to be getting it redone. [She leads us into the shop.]
TYG-GD: What are you going to get redone?
Marie: Well, I’m going to paint, put in new flooring, redo the plumbing... So this originally was one big garage, so I put in a bunch of walls. Most of the materials that I used are recycled materials. Like the bead board here: it was at a friend’s house, and they were going to throw it away, so I saved it and brought all that bead board in. This [motions to the front desk] was at the toy store in Yachats. This was my grandmother’s mirror. This... [pats on a chest-level wall]
TYG: ...is a holding pen?
Marie: Yes, it’s a playpen, or the corral, we call it, but this [wall] was on the side of the road at the Yachats give-away that we have every summer. Remember? That counter is from Cheese & Crackers [another defunct store in Yachats]—so it’s really about re-using and recycling. All the corrugated metal that you see, that was being dumped, and I recycled that. I put an extra wall there, so I still have a “garage” with my washer and dryer in there. And then two human-sized tubs: one came from out of my house originally, and that one I got for free, brand new. [The previous owners] bought it and didn’t like it, so they just gave it to us. Here’s my utilisink, which works really great. We don’t put dogs in cages here, because I think it makes dogs really upset, so we have playpens for tiny dogs. The only cage we have is for my shop bunny. That’s Crimson; she came from the shelter, because we really promote people adopting versus buying critters. As you can see, [the shop] is a work in progress, but it fits my needs. It’s not fancy, but it’s a nice, warm, happy place, and the dogs are pretty happy here.
TYG: How’s business been going?
Marie: Well, it’s been a little slow this year, but I think it’ll pick back up. It’s just like the economy, if people don’t have a lot of money to spend, then they tend to let their dogs go a little bit, and then when they have more money they’ll get it taken care of. Dog grooming has been good to me, and the community has really been good to me. People are very nice here, and of course, everybody has a dog! And if you move down here, you know you have to get a dog—it’s required! [laughter] And you know that we work with a lot of charities too, right?
Marie: We work with Focus, the Lincoln County animal shelter, and quite often we also make food donations to the feral cat people. Also, because many of my clients are quite elderly, if something happens to them, we’ll take their dog and find it a new home, usually in our clientele base, so we know where it’s going and we see it on a regular basis. That’s just one of the things I like to provide for my clients so they have peace of mind.
TYG-GD: Are you aware that Holly Anne Gibbons Law in Waldport works with animal trust funds and that sort of thing?
Marie: You know, I’ve sent people to her, actually. A few years back, unfortunately, I had a couple of elderly clients that died very suddenly, and they hadn’t made any provisions for their pets. Unfortunately, families quite often can’t, or don’t wish to take the animals. These animals ended up going to the shelter, which wasn’t bad because we have a no kill shelter, which is fine, but perhaps they didn’t go to the best possible home that they could have.
TYG: That is the best, though, that we have a no kill shelter.
Marie: I know. So anyway, now I recommend that my older clients get a living will for their pet and have things lined up for that. And those who can’t, I’m the contact number if something happens and I’ll go and get their pet and find them the best possible home. And I urge our clients to adopt whenever they can, instead of going and buying puppies. All my pets have been from rescue [organizations]... including my parrots!
TYG: You have parrots?
Marie: I did, I had three parrots, and they all came from elderly clients who couldn’t keep them any longer. Unfortunately with parrots it’s pretty hard to tell how old they are, and they must have been pretty old when I got them, so they’ve all passed on with the exception of one, who went to one of my clients [when] she fell in love with it.
TYG-GD: Parrots are a big handful!
Marie: They are, but they’re fun! They sure add a lot of life to your household. Something else that I do is offer apprenticeships to young people, to come and try out grooming. If they like it, I can give them a good recommendation to go further on. Also for young people who are looking to be a vet tech, or at college—they usually want some experience in animal handling; they can come and volunteer for a little bit and then I’ll write them up a recommendation and they can take that in. That’s a nice little extra thing to be able to do.
TYG-GD: Where do you think you’ll be in five years or so?
Marie: I’ll still be grooming, I’ll be living in my house, and I’m hoping to have a bigger program to help young people. I’ve been a foster mom in the past—not through the foster system, but just taking in homeless kids. Once I get my house fixed, I definitely want to do that again. There are a lot of kids and teenagers—through no fault of their own—who don’t have homes.
TYG: Job Corps is great for that as well.
Marie: It is. I love Job Corps. One of my neighbors is an instructor there. Anyway, this is a great location and I really enjoy it here. You know, that’s the airstrip right there. This is the oldest air strip on the Oregon Coast that’s still in operation.
TYG-GD: I had no idea! How many planes come in?
Marie: You know, on a sunny day ... the other day we had three of them: two Cessna’s and an experimental ultra-light flying in and out. And every once in a while the Coast Guard chopper will land and do a quick check on all their systems before flying on. That’s always really exciting because it’s a neat sound. I like aeronautics, so it’s a cool location! And we have lots of wildlife down here of course. Elk, deer, the occasional bear... and of course all the raptors. It’s nice living out in the county because of that.
TYG-GD: Was there anything else that you wanted to add or talk about?
Marie: Oh! Well, yes—you should probably know that we groom dogs from tiny up to about 120 pound farm dogs, and that we also groom cats. We have a nail clinic Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 12 noon, and you just drop in on those mornings and we do their nails and clean their ears—and we do that for pocket pets, too!
TYG: Pocket pets?
Marie: Yes, like bunnies, ferrets—if you can carry them, they’re called pocket pets. [laughter]
TYG-GD: Do you have a favorite grooming anecdote you’d like to share?
Marie: I do, I do, actually... I had a lady call, and she’s like “I’ve got this dog and I need it groomed.” And I asked her, “Well, what breed is it?” Quite often, people don’t know what kind of dog they have, because they’ve adopted it, and what [the people adopting out] tell them it is, and what it really is, is two different things.
And she goes, “Well, it’s kind of small to medium size.”
And I ask, “Does it have a lot of hair?”
“Oh, no it’s kind of short.”
“Does it have a good temperament?”
“Oh, he’s nice!”
“OK, any fleas or mats?”
“Oh, I don’t know, I can’t really tell.”
So I said, “Well, I can’t tell you how much it’s going to be until you bring your animal in.”
So the “small to medium dog” was a huge, huge sheepdog that probably hadn’t been groomed in about five years. Its coat was completely matted, so I had to shear it like a sheep. And the dog came in very depressed; as I started taking the coat off, it came off as a big blanket. It was all one piece, and as I got it about half-way off, all of a sudden the dog just perked up and got super, super happy. I cut all the hair back from the eyes, and it hadn’t even had a bath yet—by the time we got that dog done, it was a completely different animal. He was so happy. He just bounced all over the shop. Totally happy, gave everybody kisses; the owner came in and they didn’t even recognize the dog! I said, “Well, you have an Old English Sheepdog, just so you know, and that’s considered a large dog!” [laughter] But it was really fun to see the change in his behavior, from being depressed and dejected to being happy and feeling great. These people had just adopted him; it wasn’t their fault at all—somebody had dumped him, and they just found him. But that kind of thing really makes us super-happy, because we know we’ve made a difference in that animal’s life.
Well thanks, Allen, for your time, I really appreciate it!
TYG: Thanks so much!
Interview with John Booker of Angell Job Corps
John Booker is Center Director at the Angell Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center located north of Yachats. This is the conclusion of the interview from last month’s issue.
John: I try to err on the side of the students. And they get in trouble! I’ll be “that much” from sending them home. It’s difficult for me to send a student home. [...] If it’s not a ZT offence—zero tolerance, like assault, arson...
TYG: Have you ever had arson happen?
John: Yes. I’ve seen a couple of firebugs come through.
John: Bugs. People who like to set fires. That becomes a federal thing, because we’re a federal [facility]—we have a federal law firm that comes out and investigates that. But I had a student in Nebraska who got angry at the instructor, and set a government vehicle on fire. And I had another kid, I think in Wisconsin—the sad thing was that his Dad was a fireman, and this kid tried to set a building on fire. He just loved fire. Unfortunately there’s nothing I can do—it’s out of my hands in terms of law enforcement. That’s why we have anger management programs: if you have anger problems, you’d better get in anger management. I tell them that. Don’t react; think before you react. And we have some that cross that line, and they beg me to stay, but it’s out of my hands, I have no choice. Drugs: you’re automatically gone. Even though the states of Oregon and Washington legalized [cannabis], it’s not legal here [at Angell Job Corps.]
TYG-Editorial Assistant: The Federal Government doesn’t recognize it.
John: Nope. I just caught four a couple of weeks ago, and sent them home. And every once in a while I have the dogs pop up.
TYG-EA: Dogs? People bring dogs?
John: No, the Forest Service has drug dogs. So every so often I call them and say “I need you to pop up and hit the dorms.” And I’m going to have them again, to keep the kids off guard. Mainly, my problem is the locals. They’ll get so bold as to drive up and drop it off to the kids... so that’s why you see that sign out there [the “Park and Register” sign]. But I have students from Waldport, from Newport, from Lincoln City. I can’t turn them down, but I’d prefer them to go to another center, like Estacada.
TYG-Graphic Design: So they’re detached from bad influences?
John: Yes. Because they become mules for the other kids. But I’ve had some success. I can’t physically do anything to them, but I can ask them to take everything out of their pockets, or take their shoes off, but we can’t search them.
TYG-EA: That’s complicated.
John: Yes, but if [we have suspicions] then we can call law enforcement officers, and they can search them.
TYG-EA: So how did you end up in this remote corner of the continent?
John: I applied. I went on a detail to Curlew, Washington—it’s up on the border of Canada. My wife came up there when I was on the detail, and she said: “Oh, no.” [laughter] The town of Curlew’s population is only 300. And the closest job was [in] Republic, 45 minutes from there. They get a lot of snow. And my wife said: “No.” And I said: “Well, I’m not going to apply for this job...” So I didn’t. So then for this job... Well, the Center Director, Gina Luckritz, all of a sudden decided she wanted to retire. And Gina was my boss in Arkansas, the Deputy Director. So they called and asked me about Angell, and whether I wanted to come up here on detail. So I said yes, and came on up here.
TYG-GD: So what does “detail” mean? Normally I’d associate that with a fire, or something.
John: No, it’s a job opportunity. So for this job I got a promotion. I was a GS12, so it gave me a detail to another Center, to see if I was a fit for it. They want to look at me, I want to look at the job—it’s a two-way street. It was a challenge here, and I said “Wow.” I wrote down all the things I had to do to change it... I could have just stayed at Pine Ridge, Nebraska—it was a top-performance center. But my wife was getting tired of the cold and didn’t want to stay there. She was tired of the snow, the blizzards. I asked her if she wanted me to apply, and she said yes. She came out, and she liked the ocean—it was summertime when she came out. And the hospital was close—she’s been in the medical field ever since we were married. There were great opportunities for her and for us here. Even though I told her she didn’t have to work... it’s best that she work, because she’s hard to live with if she doesn’t. [chuckles]
TYG-GD: It’s going to be a disaster when you guys retire!
John: She’s just going to keep on working. But I’m going to retire! [laughter]
TYG-GD: What do you look forward to doing?
John: Probably being a referee for football and basketball, working with youth in some type of way, playing golf—just really relaxing! Traveling every once in a while... I’ll probably do more volunteering than anything. Right now I volunteer with a youth basketball team, first and second grade; and then I have seventh and eighth grade that I coach—it’s a good thing! I love working with disadvantaged youth, I love working with sports; it’s a good way to keep young people’s minds open. And I always want to teach the basics. If they learn the basics, they can always expand on it. I always explain that if you can’t dribble, and you can’t pass... you can’t do anything! I enjoy trying to implement those things in their life. I did that with my kids; as they continue to get older, they’ll continue to improve. I want to go fishing, too! I took my son, when he was here, and his son Austin out on a boat and we caught our limit. We had a blast! All kinds of sea bass and cod; and we put a couple of baskets out and had 32 of the nicest size of crab.
TYG-GD: Wow! You ate well for a while!
John: Yes! Matter of fact we just used the last of it—we had it cleaned, fileted, and vacuum-sealed. I just fixed my wife the last of it for Valentine’s Day. She loves crab and shrimp, so I fixed her a big Valentine’s Day dinner.
TYG-EA: You need a bigger freezer!
John: We don’t buy as much food as we used to [when the kids were around], but we have a box freezer. I have staff members here who have brought me some elk, some deer... I’ve been blessed! But I’m also have two staff members [who have just had birthdays] and I’m going to smoke them a couple slabs of ribs for their birthday—they’re both rib lovers. What I do is put a good rub on them, let them marinate in the fridge for a couple of days, and I’ll smoke them.
TYG-EA: Nice birthday!
John: Yes. But I’ve been blessed to hire some staff members who have really helped me. I don’t take the credit for the Center moving forward; it’s the staff—I give all the credit to them.
TYG-EA: How many staff do you have?
John: I have sixty-some staff members now.
TYG: I had no idea you had so many people working here!
John: We have education, vocation, residential... so that’s a lot of people. You have the vocation instructors—the six trades; then I have the teachers...
TYG-GD: Do the kids clean the dorms?
John: Yes! They’re responsible for cleaning, and for washing their clothes. And they keep the grounds clean. And they have a KP day—kitchen duty—part of giving back to the program is doing KP. They have to wash the dishes, keep the kitchen clean, help to cook—and I have five staff members just for the kitchen! And you have the medical facility: I have a nurse, but I need another nurse—the one I’m hiring right now is through a contract agency. I’m looking and recruiting—the Lord will send me somebody.
TYG-GD: I just had one follow-up question from something you mentioned earlier: you said that kids could come here when they were 16. How do they fulfill their educational requirements?
John: When they come here, they’re tested to see where they are, and then they’re placed based on their level—[the teachers] work with them.
TYG-GD: So it’s individual tutoring up to the GED?
John: It’s not individual—they have classrooms over there. If they want tutoring they have to come in early. We try to make it different. Most of the kids here don’t like school, so we let them work at their own pace. They don’t have homework—they just work at their own pace. [...] We work with the state requirements, too: they’re required to have so many hours of classroom [instruction], and they can get a high school diploma or a GED. We also have adult online programs.
TYG-EA: How long do students typically stay?
John: We try to get them out of here within ten to eleven months. But they can stay at their own pace. Not everybody is able to comprehend things, or they didn’t retain a lot when they were in school, and some of them dropped out. So we try to get them comfortable and encourage them. Right now we’re going through more hands-on classroom—I’m getting smart boards so the teachers can teach on that. Still, we find that the students do better when you have somebody in the classroom, and the instructors can answer questions right then and there. I’m glad we went back to that. I had my best teachers when I was in algebra and geometry, when the teacher could get up there and demonstrate how to resolve a problem and how to use the different formulas, and why you’re using the formulas, because I could always get the answer, but if I couldn’t show the teacher how I got this answer, she’d mark it wrong. I loved my algebra teacher. [...]
TYG-GD: So, if somebody wanted to volunteer at the Angell Job Corps Center, who would they approach?
John: Well, you approach me, and I’ll set you up with Dave—we have a volunteer form you’d fill out. You just say, “Hey, I want to volunteer in education, in the dorms, I want to volunteer in vocation...” Wherever you want to volunteer, we’ll set it up.
TYG: Well, thank you so much for your time!
John: Thank you!