Her spa clients have fur and four legs | Business

OWhen Vlada Markov was 9 years old, her next-door neighbor acquired a new puppy, but as a flight attendant she needed a reliable pet sitter.

Markov got up and took the reins.

Alumna of Mountain Pointe in 2017, Markov took that first job as a pet sitter and branched out into pet grooming as a teenager, working from her home where she is the youngest of four children and her daughter. only child.

That fortuitous side hustle turned into a passion that has guided her through her four years at Arizona State University and now to launching a new Ahwatukee business.

Markov, 23, opened Paws With Claws Pet Spa at Ahwatukee Palms Plaza on East Warner last October.

A yellow lab pup named Bailey catapulted Markov’s passion as she focused on the behavioral and physical health of the pets in her care.

“Even though I was young, I wasn’t just babysitting the puppy, I was training him. I did a lot of research and was able to learn a lot on my own. I taught him obedience and I worked with her on socialization.

She did well enough that at age 13 she convinced her parents that she could take care of her own dog. She jumped in with both feet, adopting a cattle dog from Scottsdale’s Fedwell Farm Rescue that she named Willow.

“She was 3 when I got her and she went through training, but she was smart and picked up on it quickly,” Markov said of the now 13-year-old dog.

Markov got into pet grooming in high school and continued in pet sitting and grooming after enrolling at ASU, where she joined the Canine Science Collaboratory under of psychology professor and “Dog is Love” author Clive D.L. Wynne, eventually serving as a research assistant.

“I have worked hard with the Canine Science Collaboratory, conducting several studies on the behavior and welfare of companion and shelter dogs,” she said, adding that the dog welfare study in animal shelters was a big part of the program.

“In the rescue project, I worked with owners and their pet dogs to teach them how to open a large door on a box… Owners would be ‘trapped’ inside the box and the dog would rescue them or otherwise react to it. I co-wrote a post about this project titled ‘Yes Your Dog Wants to Save You’ which was published last month, she said.

She also organized “trips” for shelter dogs, working with Washington State, Detroit and other shelters across the United States as volunteers took a dog “for the day or a few hours and removed from the environment of the refuge and took them on a hike, lake or restaurant.

“The volunteer would then fill out a sheet about the dog to express their personality,” Markov said.

“Our trips were for data collection; we recorded adoption rates, analyzed urine to test stress levels before, during and after the field trip, and overall ensured that our programs were beneficial to the welfare of the shelter dogs .

Markov also led a project at the Arizona Animal Welfare League shelter that tracked the activity of dogs at the shelter 10 days before and after adoption.

“This was a unique study, unlike any other of its kind,” Markov said. I also won first place in the AZPURC (Arizona Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference) poster competition at ASU for this study. It had to be completed early due to Covid restrictions, but is intended to be a publishable study.

Markov said she originally considered studying veterinary at ASU, but chose a different path. She graduated from ASU last May with a double major in biology (neurosciences, physiology, and behavior) and psychology with a minor in business.

“I love working with animals, focusing on behavioral and physical health and excellence, and meeting dogs from all over the valley for pet sitting and grooming services,” she said, adding that a pet she currently cares for is a retired lab rat that a friend worked with for behavioral research.

Her spa is bright and cheerful and includes a private chat room for felines at her storefront in Suite 21 at 4825 E. Warner Road so they won’t be stressed by her canine clients.

“I’m proud to have opened my own pet grooming store at Ahwatukee Palms Plaza, and I’m so grateful for the tremendous support from the community,” Markov said.

“I had a good clientele and that helped me, and now word of mouth is helping the business grow even more.”

Paws with claws is located next to Bashas’ at Warner Road and 48th Street, Suite 21. Information: 480-791-4197 or visit Pawswclaws.com