Randy Newbury

Randy Newbury

Randy Newbury: Paws and applause

Chilliwack's Randy Newbury is at home on stage, or at his dog salon.

It was a rather cheerful day. The brilliant sun poured into Randy Newbury’s neat and tidy doggie salon. I kept my sunglasses on to shield my eyes from the sun but was enjoying the warmth against my face. Randy greeted me rather cheerfully and as I found a seat and made myself comfortable, four, furry customers were dropped off for their regular grooming. I was struck by Randy’s honest enthusiasm, his confidence and charisma; something that puts him in good stead with both human and canine visitors alike.

Randy grew up in London, Ontario but eventually moved to Stratford, where he lived for the most part, until early adulthood. His mother did some odd jobs but stayed mainly at home, raising the children while his father, who was a rather old-school British sort, worked for 3M, the scotch tape company.

Randy did enjoy school although he never quite fit in. “My high school was very sportsy but I wasn’t. I was very artistic and creative and I felt like a fish out of water.” He tried army cadets as a youngster but admits that camping out in February, with snow on the ground, just wasn’t for him, so he gave it up. Then one day, his homeroom teacher introduced him to the St. Mary’s Community Players and this as they say, changed his life forever. “Mr. Carl Zvonkin suggested that I try theatre and this introduced me to a whole new group of people who held the same values as I did and who had the same interests that I had. I found acceptance and I wasn’t judged. This was life changing for me and the most satisfying thing that I’ve ever done,” he enthused.

He started theatre at the age of 15 and had a small part in the production of the Music Man. From there, he did Oliver Twist and has never looked back. “I met my wife, Susan, on the set of the Music Man. I was dazzled by this beautiful girl and we’ve been married now for 20 years,” he said, overflowing with emotion.

After leaving high school, Randy attended Fanshawe College with the intent of going into architecture. “I quickly realized that I didn’t want to sit behind a desk for the rest of my life, so I quit. I got a part-time job at Canadian Tire and then applied to the Fred Astaire Dance School and began teaching dance. I loved it and to this day, my wife and I still teach ball room dancing,” he explained.

Now, there are three things that Randy is absolutely passionate about, aside from his family, of course. Theatre is at the top of his list, quickly followed by dogs and birds. His first dog was a collie named Carlo and soon after becoming a dog owner, he began attending dog shows and loved it. “I did consider going to vet school but wound up deciding against it and instead, resolved that I’d like to try the grooming side of the dog business,” he said.

He wanted to attend grooming school but didn’t have the funds on hand so he spoke to his pastor. “I’m very grateful to Knox Presbyterian Church for giving me the money and the opportunity to go to school. I told them that I couldn’t pay them back and they told me not to worry about it and that all I had to do to repay them was to sing in the church choir and teach Sunday School for a year, which I did.” Randy went on to attend Pets Beautiful Grooming Schools and being so notably skilled, was eventually offered a position at their school in Surrey. “We decided to come out to the coast and I worked at the school for a time. Then I went to work for Petcetera and ended up opening up seven stores for them, all the while doing contract work for other shops.”

Then one day, Randy decided that he’d actually like to open up his own shop so three years ago he branched out on his own and opened up the Dogfather. As you watch him handle the dogs, you quickly recognize that his training, experience and expertise are indeed golden. As a Behaviour Modification Specialist and Certified Master Groomer, he takes great care and pride in working with the dogs. As one of his customers pointed out, “He is truly a dog whisperer and wonderful at what he does. He’s just incredible!”