Help from Above has its roots in 1962 when our father, Fred Owens, turned his hobby into a profession. He possessed a dominant artist gene that runs sporadically rampant in the family and an ardent affection for animals. The two endowments resulted in a very talented “dog barber”, as he called himself.
His decision to switch career paths was greeted with dubious response because pet grooming, as an industry, was only beginning to bud. It appeared to be a good way to starve.
With humble beginnings, a commitment to great service and beautiful work brought steady growth. Father inculcated in us, Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men…” We were to give our customers no less than our best. As the fledgling business grew wings and began to soar, people would frequently say, “You could build this into something big.” Father would reply that he didn’t want something big. He was content to make it a family occupation. With the benefit of child labor, because anyone big enough to help was conscripted, we enjoyed many benefits of a family working together.
Those were good days, filled with work we enjoyed; well most of the time. I still remember the cranky, unaltered Afghan Hound I made lie on the floor while I spent that day brushing out his matted-to-the-hide coat. Dematting was tedious kid’s work.
Father had many great parenting qualities, but patient instruction was not on the list. We were born with our eyes and ears open; hence most things should be rather obvious.
He also expected us to use our thinking abilities. The human family is at the top of the ladder among living things with brains. Surely we could out-think a dog. One never said, “I can’t.” That was not acceptable. As Gestle, the youngest in our family, said, “It was easier to face the dog than Dad.”
And so that is why Help from Above can be credited to the environment in which I grew up. We groomed anything people could bring through the door, sometimes accomplishing remarkable feats. Owners of “bad dogs” with a “history” usually didn’t say they were bringing a problem lest they be refused service. It generally would be revealed at pick up time when they would query about their pet’s behavior. Such as the time a man confessed he had brought his German Shepherd to us directly from rabies control center where he had been quarantined because of the wounds he had inflicted on a man.
The first 50 years of my life none of that was a problem; but when my body began to complain, because even a 5 pound dog that is continually resisting can be tiring, I began to reason that there should be an easier way. After all, humans are smarter than dogs.
I mentally designed Help from Above, but finding someone to build it was proving to be fruitless. I had talked to various professionals about my idea, but couldn’t enlist any help. In one such interchange, a mechanical designer told me to get a welder to build what I wanted. Right under my nose! My youngest son, Elliott, is a welder. He listened; he drew pictures. “Is this what you want?” “Yes, exactly.” I replied.
He built the first prototype. My husband, Paul, installed it. The maiden voyage was a sweet, goofy, 100 pound, attention deficient Golden Retriever that knew how to use his weight against humans. With one finger and a gentle nudge I could rotate him in a full circle and keep him standing right where I wanted him “Eureka”! Elliott built two more prototypes. We took the third model to an engineer to perfect the design. This had to be just right. He built two. We are offering the fifth generation, handsome, strong, and smart. Now you can use your brain, not your back.
National Certified Master Groomer