Inside Bone Jour, a grooming salon and pet boutique in downtown Bethesda
Kali, a schnauzer, gets pampered at Bone Jour.
When Kathy Koo brings her small brown and white Parson Russell terrier, Andy, into Bone Jour for a “spa day,” she loves seeing his name written on the blackboard welcoming him.
Koo always asks the groomer, Billie, for “the usual,” which, in addition to the standard wash, cut, blow-dry and nail trim, means preserving Andy’s white mohawk and trimming his expressive eyebrows “just right.” When Koo returns to pick up Andy, he’s often sporting a seasonal bandanna—he came home in one that was covered in pumpkins around Halloween and another in clovers around St. Patrick’s Day.
Every day, about two dozen pets are pampered at Bone Jour, a grooming, training, boarding and retail business in downtown Bethesda that’s been catering to local dogs and cats for 30 years.
Owner Becky Pugh, an Arkansas native with a background in art and public relations, opened Bone Jour in Georgetown in 1986. Five years later, at the suggestion of a vet who told her that Bethesda was “up and coming,” she moved to Rugby Avenue, before settling at the current location on St. Elmo Avenue in 1996.
Pugh says her business began to take off during the transformation of downtown Bethesda in the 1990s. “Now the children of my first customers are coming in with their dogs,” says Pugh, who married one of her customers, Dean Jabs, 15 years ago.
Labradoodle Camden drinks from a crystal water bowl next to Bone Jour’s case of specialty dog treats.
A small boutique in the front of Bone Jour features toys and leashes, along with an assortment of decorated dog treats displayed bakery-style behind glass. Crystal food bowls, satin tuxedos and candles that smell like lawn clippings are also available. For customers who feel like splurging, there are $100 papier-mâché figurines and life-size moss statues of various dog breeds for the garden.
Behind the desk in the back of the store is the core of the business: a large grooming room where dogs and cats can be bathed, brushed and beautified. Prices range from $45 to $185, depending on the size, breed, coat type and service.
In addition to leashes, the Bethesda boutique sells candles that smell like lawn clippings.
Every morning, the shop fills with a stream of customers dropping off their pets. Receptionist Jennifer Fagan, who lives in Silver Spring and owns six dogs, says it’s sweet to see the owners reunited with the pets after their treatment. “[The animals] know they look good and often prance in a circle,” Fagan says.
Shanee Uberman of Bethesda has her two shih tzus, Bitsy and Frankie, groomed at Bone Jour every other week, often treating them afterward to toys and gourmet biscuits at the store. Six-pound Bitsy occasionally goes with Uberman to Pilates and shops with her at Barneys in New York. “She is so cute that people go nuts when they see her,” Uberman says.
Bone Jour’s Sandra Jacome trims poodle Cali.
Pugh says the arrival of several new apartment buildings within walking distance of the store has helped her business. “All these buildings are trying to out-dog each other,” she says. Last summer, Upstairs at Bethesda Row hosted a “bubble bath party” to highlight its high-end doggie grooming lounge. For the party, Bone Jour made personalized gift bags for the residents’ pets. At Bainbridge Bethesda, Bone Jour helped throw a party where dogs dipped their paws in paint and made paper keepsakes for their owners.
Victor Frye of Bethesda says he doesn’t flinch at spending money on his mixed schnauzer-pugs (shnugs), Louie, 14, and Bailey, 6. “The fact of the matter is, they are like family members,” says Frye, who has college-age kids. “Getting your dog’s hair cut at Bone Jour is not that expensive in comparison to what we do for ourselves.”