New pet grooming business gets its hands dirty

NORTH BEND - Cathi Linden may describe herself as working class, but her work has been good enough for the stars.

NORTH BEND – Cathi Linden may describe herself as working class, but her work has been good enough for the stars.

More than 30 years of experience in Washington and in the high-end communities around Los Angeles have equipped her to open up one of the Valley’s newest pet grooming services, U Dirty Dog, in North Bend. Cathi opened the business with her daughter, Danielle, who has been at her side as a fellow pet lover and groomer since she was a little girl.

“People’s pets are their children,” Cathi said. “Going to be groomed shouldn’t be stressful.”

Cathi was born in Washington but moved with her family to California at a young age. She bounced from school to school as her parents moved around, but her love of dogs remained constant. As a teenager, she started working for a groomer and soon realized what she wanted to do for a living.

As her career progressed, Cathi started working for some of the higher-end clientele in Beverly Hills and Hollywood. The mobile dog grooming business she worked for had a long and distinguished customer list. Cathi would spend days at the studio where “L.A. Law” was being filmed and groom the dogs of the show’s producers and writers. While Cathi was working on a golden retriever in a neighborhood once, Jimmy Stewart came up behind her and asked her if she needed any help.

“I knew who he was just by his voice before I even turned around,” Cathi said.

After garnering enough experience working for other groomers, Cathi opened her own business, Happy Tails ‘a Waggin.’ She gained more experience and even taught canine dental X-ray classes for veterinary students at the University of Southern California.

Growing up in California was great for Cathi’s business, but she was not thrilled about raising her new daughter Danielle there. She had seen her own working-class neighborhood of Pacific Palisades become affluent and she soon tired of the “keeping up with the Joneses” atmosphere that seemed to make its way through the community.

“It’s weird being a working-class person in an affluent neighborhood,” Cathi said. “I didn’t want to raise her [Danielle] around that.”

When Danielle was in the first grade, Cathi packed her up and moved to Washington to live in Bothell where Cathi started up another mobile dog grooming business called Paws ‘n Claws. She also started attending the Academy of Canine Behavior in Bothell, learning how to deal with and train dogs. Her training for how to deal with aggressive dogs became useful when she worked on rowdy or jumpy animals.

“I had dealt with a lot of aggressive dogs and didn’t know what to do,” Cathi said. “Now I know, and it shows. The dogs know [I am trying to make them feel comfortable].”

With her additional training, Cathi expanded her services to do more pet training and boarding and soon realized she should change her name to keep up with her new skills. Once she had renamed her business Cathi Linden’s Pet Services, Cathi was busy boarding, training and taking care of dogs.

During that time, Danielle was along for the ride and started to share her mother’s love of dogs. She grew up going in and out of the pens with the dogs her mom worked on and became involved in 4-H competitions with animals. She started to work full time as a groomer while still in high school and has never looked back on her choice of careers.

“It’s always fun, always interesting,” Danielle said.

Although having a mobile business can be profitable, Cathi wanted to open her own shop. She thought about opening her shop in the Duvall or Carnation areas, which are close to where she and Danielle live, but couldn’t find the right space.

They had better luck finding a space in North Bend. Once the space became available, the Lindens moved in, making it over with help from assorted family and friends. The Lindens had a two-day grand opening celebration on April 9 and 10, and business has been good.

The Lindens wanted dogs and their owners to feel comfortable coming into the shop. There is a couch for customers to sit on if they want to wait for their dogs to get groomed, and a small, fenced-in play area for dogs to hang out in if their owners need to drop them off. Cathi said she didn’t want to put animals in cages when they are not being groomed and wanted to create a place where both people and dogs can relax.

That laid-back atmosphere puts the pets and their owners at ease. Danielle said the Valley is a great place to do business since customers care about their dogs and care enough to talk to their pet’s groomers about their lives.

“People here [in the Valley] love to talk and share,” Danielle said.

* U Dirty Dog is located at 301 North Bend Way, Suite E, North Bend. For more information, call (425) 888-8100 or visit their Web site (still under construction) at