Puppy Pampering

Danni Betancourt provides luxury grooming in River Oaks.

Danni Betancourt with her Dalmatian, Polo (photo by Alex Rosa for OutSmart magazine)

Sometimes it takes an odd turn of events to find your passion in life. Just ask 28-year-old CityPaws Grooming owner Daniella “Danni” Betancourt.

“We have every pup’s best interest at heart. We analyze their personality and the way they react to the grooming process so we can give their parents the best advice regarding current and future care for their pups.”

—Danni Betancourt

“I wanted to work with dogs,” Betancourt says. “I’ve owned other businesses and worked many jobs, but this is my passion. I was misdiagnosed with a brain tumor and spent a year on bed rest. I created my business plan during that time and reached out to investors. As soon as it became clear I did not have a brain tumor, as they thought, I set my plan in motion. I enrolled in grooming school and opened CityPaws just a month after graduation. I dedicated every waking moment to my business and its future.”

Born in Mexico and raised in California, Betancourt, who identifies as gay, grew up in a loving home with her mom and dad and two brothers. Her dad is a self-made businessman, and she describes her mom as an exceptional homemaker. 

She opened CityPaws in August of 2019 in Rice Village, but had to move to the River Oaks area in February of 2021 after the freeze and power failure caused a leak that collapsed the ceiling at the old location. The cozy new spot offers full pet pampering, including options for either a full grooming, a bath and basic groom, or an express bath (when a dog’s two-legged parent is in a hurry), de-matting, de-shedding, nail cutting and grinding, teeth brushing, and even doggie facials.

An added perk is the glamour shots Betancourt takes of her four-legged clients—before-and-after snaps of pets luxuriating on overstuffed chairs looking like royalty (at least in the “after” shots). 

Betancourt says getting the perfect pic is fairly easy to do at home, too. “We say the dogs’ favorite words, like ‘treat’ or ‘outside,’” she says. Having actual treats on hand doesn’t hurt, either.

But it was a bumpy start for CityPaws. Besides the freeze from Winter Storm Uri, there were the long pandemic months.

“It was very hard to survive through
COVID times,” Betancourt admits. “We were a new business, and shutting down for almost two months pushed back our original plans for growth. We survived with loans, advice, love, and support from our clients. 

“I would like clients to understand how grooming works. We have every pup’s best interest at heart. We analyze their personality and the way they react to the grooming process so we can give their parents the best advice regarding current and future care for their pups. We don’t believe in harming a pup to satisfy their parents’ expectations. Sometimes, when a pup is extremely matted, it is better to give them a fresh start and shave them down so they can regain confidence and trust the grooming process by scheduling regular visits.” CityPaws also sells at-home grooming kits with a recommended brush, comb, de-matting tool, detangling spray, and a step-by-step tutorial for those at-home, in-between grooming sessions to keep your pooch perfect.

It goes without saying that her own three fur babies are impeccably groomed. “Kobu, Polo, and Nova,” she recites. “Kobu is a Golden Retriever, Polo is a Dalmatian, and Nova is a German Shepherd mix. 

“We love to explore Houston as a family. The pups love to go to the dog park and on car rides through the city. We enjoy checking out new spots where they’re able to roam free.” 

But best of all, Betancourt loves her job and her new business. 

“We believe dogs have personalities, just like people,” she concludes. “[Although we hate to see] rescued pups who were previously abused, the best part of my job is working with the dogs. I love being surrounded by them and getting to know each one as an individual.”  

 For more info, visit facebook.com/citypawsgrooming.

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.
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