By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times
For 19 years Prestigious Pets has served Cullman County at its downtown location just off Highway 31. Recently, however, Melody Basch made the decision to relocate to the country.
“I designed a state-of-the-art grooming spa and pet hotel," said Basch. "We installed a radiant floor heating system, and on demand hot water, which are both very energy efficient.”
There are skylights and sun tunnels above the pet hotel for the dogs, which are also a way of saving energy. “The skylights are vented for better air circulation,” Basch pointed out.
All of the hotel rooms and suites have glass doors so that the canine guests don’t feel secluded. They are open at the top so that there is always plenty of air circulating in this area.
“We have a separate play area for different activities, depending on the size of the dog,” she continued. “Daycare and playtime are always provided with the hotel service.”
The bright, cheerful grooming salon includes Basch and a staff of three trained pet stylists who groom dogs of all breeds, from shaggy sheepdogs to tiny teacup breeds, and everything in between.
“We opted to cut back on our retail inventory and concentrate on giving our clients a full, spa-like experience,” she said. The facility is much like a ladies spa, with services for hair, nails and all general grooming services to make Prestigious Pets clients look like runway stars.
Basch saw a lot of the country as a child. Hers was a military family. After moving from place to place, she found herself, at the age of 12, working for Dr. Darrell Compton’s Veterinary Clinic in Cullman. Her job consisted of general help, working with animals and around the office, but she was especially drawn to the grooming part of the business. “Mrs. Compton taught me to help her groom on Saturdays,” recalled Basch.
At they age of 19, Basch started college, earning her degree as a medical laboratory technician. For five years she worked in that capacity at Cullman Regional Medical Center.
Later, she went to work for Internal Medicine. "It was there that Dr. Jim Hoover kept asking me to groom his dog, Ace, and finally I did,” she said. “That’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do.”
She began to study the professional “art” of pet styling and eventually went to Nashville to be tested by National Dog Groomers of America for a full weekend. “There was a 500 question test and a practical grooming test, just like beauticians and barbers have to take on humans,” she explained. Basch borrowed four dogs from her friends to use for the test.
In June 1992, she opened the first certified grooming salon in Alabama. “My license number is AL01,” she smiled. “There are a lot of people who look for that certification because they know the credibility of the National Dog Groomers of America organization.”
Where: From Highway 157, go north on Eva Road for one-and-a-half miles. Veer left onto County Road 1332. Prestigious Pets will be the second building on your right. You will see signs. Map it on your mobile device: #140 Co. Rd. 1332, Vinemont 35179.
When: Hotel services are offered seven days per week. Salon hours are Tuesday – Friday, 7:15 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Contact: Call 256-734-2660 for an appointment.
Online: www.prestitiouspets.com or on Facebook.