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KALAMA — After working together at a national pet store chain eight years ago, friends Christina Cox and Ashling Jouwsma teamed up this year to open their own dog training and grooming business.

“It’s definitely something we both love doing,” Cox said. “We’re glad to be doing it together.”

Elemental Canine Services opened in downtown Kalama on July 20. It offers bathing, grooming and training for dogs of all breeds and sizes.

Cox, 25, said she’s loved dogs since childhood. Her parents gifted Cox her first dog for her 11th birthday. It was a Jack Russell terrier and shih tzu mix, which she trained and cared for.

“Anything dog related I get excited about,” Cox said. “It’s definitely my passion.”

Cox has worked with dogs eight years, including five years as a trainer and groomer at a Petsmart in Portland. Jouwsma was a trainer there for about three years.

Jouwsma, 27, then worked as a private dog trainer and became certified to train service dogs about five years ago. She said she enjoys training because it helps improve communication between dogs and their owners and can prevent them from being given up.

“I want to help keep dogs in their forever homes,” Jouwsma said. “I love seeing the relationship just click when I’m training with a client and their dog.”

For the last three years, Cox has worked at veterinary clinics and is studying to become a veterinary nurse. She works three days a week at North County Animal Hospital in Ridgefield. Cox said she’s learned a lot from these experiences and is glad to now apply her knowledge to her own clients.

Cox said she’ll continue to split her time at Elemental Canine with the veterinary clinic because she couldn’t live without that aspect of her career.

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“It’s so satisfying being able to help (animals),” Cox said. “Medicine is a field that never stops growing. There’s never a dull moment.”

When Cox moved to Ridgefield and realized she and Jouwsma were in the same area again, they made their dream business a reality, Cox said.

“It’s nice to start a business with someone as passionate as you,” she said.

Cox said they were lucky to find a location in downtown Kalama, which she says has a warm, small-town feel. The business has received a good response from residents, she said, and broke even in its first three weeks, she said.

Although Donna’s Pet Grooming is located just down the street, Cox said the businesses work together. Donna’s has a 50-pound weight limit and is often booked up with long-time clients, so she sometimes sends clients to Elemental Canine, Cox said. Elemental Canine takes dogs of all breeds, sizes and various temperaments, she said.

Cox is teaching Jouwsma to groom dogs, and they both train. Jouwsma focuses on puppy, obedience and service dog training, while Cox takes on teaching behavioral modification and helping aggressive dogs.

Elemental Canine also offers “board and train” to give a dog extra lessons while they stay overnight. The service can only be offered for one dog at a time because the business has limited boarding space, Cox said.

Cox said they would like to expand to offer more boarding and daycare services, but they would have to find a space to hold it.

“I’m excited to see how it grows and how many dogs I can help,” she said.

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