Dog grooming

Her dog grooming an art form

Bob DiNunzio with a Standard Poodle at his store, Hound ‘N Hair on North Fifth Street in Warrenton.

The Warrenton dog groomer owes his career to a couple of mongrels.

Kind of.

The youngest of three children, Bob DiNunzio grew up hustling around the family home in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

“When I was a kid, my parents owned a restaurant that looked a lot like the Copacabana,” recalls Mr. DiNunzio, 72, founder and owner of Hound ‘N Hair at 5 N. Fifth St. showgirls, and I was the only kid at home, so I was kind of on my own.

Around the age of 7, he took in two stray dogs who became his “best friends”.

Later, a dog number appeared at his parents’ nightclub and the boy struck up a conversation with the owner and dog handler, who encouraged him.

The youngster quickly liked the idea of ​​working with dogs.

His dad told him that “if you really want to do anything with dogs, you have to pick a breed and we’ll go from there,” Mr DiNunzio recalled.

Mr. DiNunzio chose a sable and white colored collie he named “Queenie”. Later showing collies, the teenager made an impression at a competition in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with a couple from Northern Virginia who specialized in poodles.

Vernelle and Calvin Hartman of Chantilly asked Mr DiNunzio’s parents if the boy could work for them during the summers and the school week, as his schedule allowed.

His parents agreed and Mr. DiNunzio “commuted” from Hershey to Chantilly all year.

“I was 16 and had a license,” said Mr DiNunzio, whose parents bought him an MG Midget. “I went to school two or three days a week. And sometimes not at all, because I was going to the circuit instead. I graduated, but barely graduated.

A dyslexic, he “really, really” hated school, Mr DiNunzio said. “I had a lot of trouble with that. I really shone in artistic things. But school was not one of them.

He compared the unconventional arrangement with the Hartmans to “running away to the circus”.

Laughing, Mr. DiNunzio added, “My parents were in show business. My mother was a Rockette. My dad played bass in big bands. They didn’t think about it, because they did the same thing.

Big names in the dog show world, the Hartmans owned about 60 poodles, DiNunzio said.

He learned much of what he knows about dogs from Mr. Hartman.

“Every Sunday when we weren’t at a dog show, we would take dogs out,” DiNunzio said. “He was teaching me what was good with this one, what was good with that one. He also taught me how to show these dogs even better than I used to.

Mr. DiNunzio lived and worked with a couple for about 10 years — “I was more like their son; I went everywhere with them” – until the dog show circuit became a chore.

In the early 1970s, he discovered a new passion for breeding and showing horses. This led Mr. DiNunzio to buy a farm near Orleans which he later sold when his interest in the profession waned.

In 1976 he opened Hound ‘N Hair at the North Fifth Street space. Employing two people – a bather and a “right hand, Girl Friday” – Mr. DiNunzio grooms 10 to 15 dogs a day, Tuesday through Friday.

Show dogs make up about 20% of the business, he said.

“I specialize more in non-sporting dogs and soft-coated dogs,” DiNunzio explained. “I make dogs with long hair and I can make them look like anything. It’s like us. A great hairstyle can really do wonders.

About a dozen years ago, Mr DiNunzio began breeding and later showing Norfolk Terriers, including a 2-year-old Boom-Boom that won Best female dog at the Westminster Kennel Club’s Annual 2014 All Breed Dog Show in New York. .

He still breeds “Norfolks,” which sell for $4,000 each, and personally shows them at about 10 shows a year.

Work, his home and gardens and dog shows keep him busy, said DiNunzio, who has no plans to retire.

“I try to shake things up,” he said. “Once I took off for two weeks and was going crazy.”

• Age
72

• House
Warrenton

• To work
Owner/Groomer, Hounds ‘N Hair, Warrenton, 5 N. Fifth St., 1976-present.

• Why are you doing the work?
Most people just use clippers. What I do is different. I chisel the dogs by hand. Clips last longer, and they look much nicer. And there are very few groomers in the world today who do. It’s a real art form for me.

I like work. I like dogs. And my clients are just wonderful. I have been here so long that they have become my family.

• Family
A sister and three nephews.

• Education
Annville-Cleona High School, Pennsylvania, 1966.

• How long have you lived in Le Fauquier?
About 45 years old.

• Why do you live here?
“I had a friend who had a horse and I’ve always loved horses. When I started buying horses and showing horses, the interest grew. It was then that I decided to have my own accommodation, where my horses could be with me rather than boarded. So I bought a farm on Crest Hill Road (near Orleans).

• How do you describe this county?
It’s a great place. It’s quiet. People are nice, friendly.

With horses and dogs, this makes it a very pleasant place to live. People are relaxed and they enjoy their animals. It just makes it soft and nice.

• What would you change at Fauquier?
I just wish there were more interesting shops and great restaurants. I would also like to have a movie theatre.

I have customers who come to the store from all over – DC, New Jersey, Richmond. They come here and they have nothing to do. Once they’ve made this town, it’s done.

Hopefully that will change soon.

• What do you do for fun?
I show and breed Norfolk terriers. I am one of the best breeders in the country. I have 7 week old puppies and they are adorable.

My home is also my pleasure. I’m a crazy decorator. My house is Italian, and it’s just wild. I have a lot of fun doing things in my house. I always add more. And, I have large gardens.

• What is your favorite place in Fauquier?
My house.

• What will Fauquier look like in 10 years?
I’m worried. The growth is not very good. They stick stuff everywhere. But, hopefully, maybe someone will get into this and understand. We’ll see.

• Favorite TV show?
“CBS Sunday Morning”

• Favorite movie?
“Rocketman”

• Favourite book?
I read magazines more than anything: Architectural Digest, design magazines — that sort of thing. I am not a big book reader.

• Favorite vacation spot?
Italy

• Favorite food?
Spaghetti

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
I think everyone told me this: relax, be yourself and people will accept you for who you are.

• Who is your hero and why?
Calvin Hartman. He was an excellent teacher. He taught me everything. He always congratulated me. And, he never wanted anything in return.

He was almost the father I didn’t have, because my father was gone. He was on the road with large groups.

• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery?
I would put a million dollars under my bed. I don’t know if I would do many different things.

I would probably stop working and enjoy the rest of my life. My life is pretty well organized.

Do you have a suggestion?
Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County that you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? Email Don Del Rosso at [email protected] or Lou Emerson at [email protected]