While painting the new ‘doggy day care’ room at Pat’s Pet Emporium, 7638 Madison St., was a challenging project for a group of Proviso East art students, for owner Patricia Littlecreek it was the completion of a dream.
She moved her pet-grooming business from its 19-year location at 6 Chicago Ave. in Oak Park to Madison Street last February so she could expand it to include day care, and she couldn’t be happier with the end result.
“I had pictured more of a Spanish courtyard. The first set of drawings was almost Monet-ish,” she said. “But the kids came up with this idea, and I told them to just go with it. It’s really cute, it’s so bright and cheery,” she said.
The project was arranged through Marcia LaPorte, a Proviso East art teacher who brings her own dog, Lilly, to Littlecreek’s shop for grooming. She selected a few of her most talented students and, after developing a series of concepts and sketches, they spent three straight days turning the 1,400 square foot warehouse-style space in the rear of the grooming shop to a pet paradise.
“Most artists work on small surfaces, so this was a whole new experience for us,” said Neko Harris of Maywood, who hopes to attend the American Academy of Art after graduating from Proviso.
The project was also a new challenge for Dwane Warren of Forest Park, who hopes to work as an architect in the future. The closest he had previously come to a project of this scale was decorating his family home.
Littlecreek said that though the artwork is an added bonus, the day care center will be set apart mainly by the people who work there. She said she plans to have one staff supervisor per eight animals at all times “to make sure everyone gets along.”
“[The painting] is more for the humans. Animals see in grays anyway, so it doesn’t really matter to them,” she said.
The day care room will double as a waiting area for dogs waiting to be groomed or picked up by their owners, and the business will also offer overnight boarding with full time supervision.
“[Day care] is a hot market right now, and it’s even hotter in the city. I looked at some places in the city where they have 70 pets a day,” she said.
Littlecreek, who worked as an administrative assistant for a market research firm before devoting herself to pet care, is now an American Kennel Club Certified Master Groomer.
Her journey into pet grooming was nearly as spontaneous as the artwork that now decorates her day care center.
“Long ago my best friend and I were sitting around saying ‘what should we do with our lives,’ and we said ‘we both have dogs we take to the groomer, why not do it ourselves?'” she recalls.
She then worked part-time at grooming businesses in Villa Park and Hinsdale, receiving her first bit of on the job training before getting a full time job at Inne Town Pet Motel in Forest Park and soon starting her own business.
“I just love the customers and I enjoy the fact that it changes every day. Every day, I’m working with different animals,” she said.
Day care is offered at Pat’s Pet Emporium from Monday through Friday, while overnight boarding is available at all times. The business also offers obedience classes by Wet Nose Obedience Training on Monday nights from 6 to 7 p.m.
In the future, Littlecreek said she would like to celebrate her move into Forest Park by becoming more involved with local groups like Madison Merchants and Main Street and adding animal activities to Madison Streets many festivities.
“I’d like to have a Forest Park pet parade,” she said.