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Rogue Dog Grooming will pamper your pup – Evanston RoundTable

Evanston RoundTable
Evanston's community newspaper since 1998
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Does your dog start to tremble when it’s time for a nail trim, haircut or bath? Do you have a dog with complex grooming needs? Or perhaps you are squeamish and can’t stomach the idea of cleaning your dog’s ears and nether regions, fearful of what you’d find.
Fear not, pooch parents. You and your fur babies have another option.
Rogue Dog Grooming, 2603 Prairie Ave., might be just what you both need.
Briana Hauck opened Rogue Dog Grooming right after Labor Day in September 2023. She has been grooming dogs for half her young life. (She’s 32.) Until now, she’s worked for other companies, but after a few years, realized she wanted to be her own boss. She finally took the plunge last year.
Hauck has designed her storefront’s space to be warm, cozy and relaxing. The decor is an eclectic mix of mid-century finds – many found at Secret Treasures Antiques & Collectibles, 605 Dempster St.
A whimsical, dog-centric wallpaper covers the front desk. The paint colors on the walls – a flamingo peach and apple green – stem from this wallpaper to charming effect.
Except for the plumbing and electrical, Hauck and her father did all the interior work themselves, including scraping the floor of old paint and sanding it afterward.
The storefront had been unoccupied since Happy Husky Bakery closed five years ago.
“I don’t want to see another paintbrush for at least five years,” she said.
“I just worked really hard to make this a very comfy space for me and also my dogs,” Hauck said. “The first thing that people say when they come in is always like, ‘It’s so calm and nice and clean.’ And it’s yes, I need that too as a person, especially working with animals. It’s kind of overstimulating. There’s always you know, things around, there’s hair coming off the dog whenever you’re grooming them. It’s just a very overstimulating environment.”
She is obsessed with taking care of her canine clients. The store is spacious and spotless.
Hauck’s business plan focuses on maintaining the “hygiene, health and happiness” of each dog with plenty of individual attention. For that reason, except for nail trims, all services are by appointment only so that only one dog is in the shop at any given time. She does not sell any retail shampoos or creams for dogs; the shop is completely service oriented toward the care of dogs.
She described a typical scene based on how the pet grooming industry operates, with multiple dogs and groomers.
“You know where you’re working in a place that has retail also and there’s people coming in, there’s people coming out, there’s dogs checking in and checking out, and there’s whoever looking in on the glass tapping,” she said, adding that it’s sensory overload for the dogs and the groomers.
For full grooming appointments, she expects a pet parent to drop off and pick up their pooch rather than wait inside the store. In fact, there are no seats in the foyer.
When the RoundTable visited, there was a recently delivered box with a small sofa inside, waiting to be assembled. The sofa will be for the pups.
In an email Hauck wrote, “Appointments can take anywhere from 1-3 hours and an owner being present can distract the dog and complicate the process. Dogs are energy readers and grooming is a delicate process so the dog and I need to be on the same page without interference. Dogs are a lot like toddlers being dropped off at daycare, there can be a bit of hesitation or nervousness at first but usually they all settle in pretty quickly.”
Hauck said that most pet parents wouldn’t want to stay for the grooming appointments. “There’s hair flying everywhere,” she said.
Although haircuts are the most frequent service, the package services provide deluxe treatment for your dog. You can choose from Bath Only, Bath + Tidy, or Bath + Haircut. Prices vary based on the size and breed.
The website says, “All baths include shampoo and conditioner tailored to your dog’s specific needs, a facial, teeth brushing, ear cleaning and nail trimming/filing.”
Facials for dogs? Yes. Blueberry facials.
But don’t worry: Your pooch isn’t wrapped in a towel with cucumber slices over his or her eyes. Hauck explained what’s involved.
“Blueberry facials give the appearance of brighter fur on the face. It is what I use on all the dog’s faces and it works with all colors of fur but it may be more noticeable on white fur,” she said. “It is not your idea of a traditional human facial. … This is a shampoo that is designed for washing the face fur. There are exfoliating ingredients in some blueberry facials but the main focus is to deep clean the dog’s face fur.”
Hauck designed and built Rogue Dog’s website herself. The shop is closed on Fridays and Saturdays but open on Sundays.
“I need at least one weekend with my two children, because yeah, my son is school age,” she said. “So it’s like, you know, he’s doing his thing. I’m doing my thing all week.”
The dog in the logo of Rogue Dog is her late, great Frenchie, Edie, “her soulmate,” who died in 2020. She got another Frenchie a few years ago, Myrtle, who “is a maniac, so different from Edie,” and who follows her daughter around everywhere.
Hauck talked about the health dangers to groomers who do this work full time. She wears a mask during haircuts to protect her lungs. She knows friends in the industry who can no longer work because of “groomers lungs.”
She takes other precautions such as wearing protective braces on her wrists to minimize strain and headphones to protect her hearing.
There is always a danger of being bitten, an occupational hazard she’s experienced many times. Once she was bitten so deeply she was out of work for 12 weeks. Thankfully she had disability insurance coverage and recovered fully.
Hauck grew up in Pittsburgh. As a young girl she dreamed of moving to Chicago one day.
She is creative and artistic, and originally thought she’d pursue architecture or interior design at Columbia College, but her love of dogs and her talent for taking care of them won out.
Now she has a following. Many of her clients from previous work locations have followed her here to Evanston. Some have been with her for 10 years. Her voice cracked with emotion and her eyes welled up at this part of the story.
“I’m so thankful,” she said.
Her artistic interests also include her love of tattoos. She said she is asked about them all the time; although now “all my extra money goes to my kids.” The elaborate work on her right arm is inspired by Camille Rose Garcia, a California-based artist whose style she described as “dystopian Disney.”
Another person who inspires her is John Kim, owner of Backlot Coffee, her neighbor down the block at 2006 Central St.
When she was checking out the neighborhood to see if the Central Street area would be a good place for her business, Kim’s help was vital. He always made time to answer her questions and was supportive of her opening in this part of town.
The RoundTable contacted Kim via email. He was out of the country and could not talk on the phone but responded, “I am a big fan of Briana.”
Hauck said all she has ever wanted was to “break away from what everyone else is doing” and develop a business that delivers one-to-one, high-end care for her clients.
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Wendi Kromash is curious about everything and will write about anything. She tends to focus on one-on-one interviews with community leaders, recaps and reviews of cultural events, feature stories about… More by Wendi Kromash
1 Comment
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I very recently moved to the area and took my dog to Rogue Dog for grooming. I was so impressed with the calm vibes and Briana gave him the best haircut he’s ever had. So happy to have found this gem.
The Evanston RoundTable is the community’s leading source of news about local government, schools, civic and artistic activities, and other important issues facing our city. We seek to foster civic engagement and empower people to address complex issues facing our diverse community, promoting a better understanding and appreciation of people of all races, ethnicities, and income levels.
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