Bathed, dried, draped in a pink outfit with a flower pinned to her head, a month-old poodle is ready for collection from the salon.
She belongs to pet lover San Nita, one of a growning number of Cambodians and expats who are spending hundreds of dollars on beautifying their pets. Nita takes her to the salon once a week to be groomed and dressed in clothes and accessories.
Adopting pets – especially dogs and cats – is common in the Kingdom, but Phnom Pehn has seen a surge in demand for more elaborate services and treatments ranging from nail trimming and grooming to “dating services”and funeral organisation.
Happy Dog Pet Shop in Phnom Penh, one of the city’s most-esablished dog salons, opened in 2009. Today it gets more than 80 clients a week who choose from an a extensive catalogue of treatments and services.
According to its website, staff can “find a partner for your pet” or even organise its funeral. A door-to-door service is also available.
The treatments are increasingly popular with foreigners, wealthy Cambodians and the growing middle class, according to Sok Chhay, who owns the shop.
She said: “The number of customers increases every month. The development of the county has changed people’s perceptions about their standards of living.
“Cambodians now tend to understand the importance of pets – not only for guarding houses but also as close companions for people.”
Grooming prices range from $10 to $30 depending on the condition of the coat. Most customers are from the middle or very wealthy classes and are indifferent to the cost, she said. but she also gets clients who come from poorer backgrounds.
Yang Sokny, who works at Modern Dog pet shop said that her clients bring their pets to the salon several times a week. The Phnom Penh salon opened last year and now attracts than 50 customers each week.
“Some of those 50 customers are my regular clients, who bring their pets for grooming up to three times a week,” she said.
Most of the pets brought in have been imported from abroad at great expense, and owners want to give them specialist care, she said.
Nita imported her poodle, which is worth hundreds of dollars. “Since it’s not a local puppy, I’m not familiar with its needs or way of living, so I have to get advice and service from pet shop,” she said.
Seak Keang, who often brings his 10 year-old dog to the salon to be groomed and have its nails trimmed, said the cost is worth bearing if it prevents the dog from getting fleas or ticks.
“Better care helps dogs live longer and happier lives,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lim Meng Y at firstname.lastname@example.org