Lone Tree native returns to offer area dogs a spa day

By TJ Rhodes
Posted 4/26/24


For people, a trip to the spa can be a full-day excursion to ease tensions and find relaxation.  

Why not treat your furry best friend to the same level of care?   With …

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Lone Tree native returns to offer area dogs a spa day



For people, a trip to the spa can be a full-day excursion to ease tensions and find relaxation. 

Why not treat your furry best friend to the same level of care?  With Gussie’s Paw Spa, Lone Tree’s locally owned and operated dog grooming service that caters to dogs large and small, you can.

Gus Jones, owner of Gussie’s Paw Spa, officially opened the business in March 2024.

It did not take long for the community to take note.  Jones joined the Lone Tree Chamber of Commerce in the beginning of April.

“The week before I opened, there are people stopping by, and it’s really nice because a lot of the older community, they get curious about stuff and they’ll actually come ask you about it instead of just walking by, wondering,” Jones said. “I don’t know how many people stopped in here and said, ‘I don’t even have a dog, I just wanted to stop and see what’s going on.’”

Gussie’s Paw Spa offers the essentials: baths, toenail clippings, haircuts, ear cleanings, glandular work and more. The spa houses a tub which can comfortably hold a dog up to 240 lbs, although Jones has yet to groom a dog of that size.

All grooming is done on a small, intimate scale.

Gussie’s Paw Spa is housed in a small building fit for one dog at a time. This allows Gussie’s to provide a quiet, calm, and comfortable environment for a shy or nervous pup.

The small sized operation also allows Jones to build more personable relationships with both the pets and their parents.

“If you go to Iowa City or to a large grooming place, there’s tons of dogs, it’s not super private. Some dogs don’t like that,” Jones said. “I’ve already had a lot of people tell me, ‘Oh my gosh, this is a much better situation for my dog than what I’ve been trying to do.’  Then, you have time to actually make a connection with people. You’re not just dropping your dog off and leaving.”

Building the Gussie’s Paw Spa brand took a community effort.

First, Jones’s husband, Jake, spent his winter remodeling the building, replacing the flooring, and knocking out a wall for the water heater.

Then, her friend, Sarah Hedlund with Sarah Hedlund Design, designed the logo based on Jones’s golden retriever, Benny. Another friend, Lindsey Mills with Are you Shirting Me, made stickers featuring said logo, one for the building along with a bunch of smaller ones.

Finally, a close friend, Jen Schluttenhofer with Dixie’s Doggie Spa in Riverside, gave Jones ample advice to help jumpstart the business. 


The road to Gussie’s

Opening Gussie’s Paw Spa is a homecoming for Jones, who is from the area and is a Lone Tree graduate. 

“[They’re] people I’ve known forever,” Jones said. “I worked at the grocery store when I was in high school, so I know practically everybody here, and I tell them that since they haven’t seen me in almost 20 years.”

Where was she in that 20-year gap?

After high school, Jones joined Kirkwood Community College’s small animal science program with the hopes of becoming a veterinarian. Jones later shifted focus to the vet tech program but never completed it. This did not stop her from joining the veterinary workforce.

“There are other jobs that you can do besides being a veterinarian, and they don’t really tell you about that when you’re a kid. I kind of figured that out my senior year in high school,” Jones said. “You don’t [need] any schooling. You can be a kid; high school is probably the best [time to] start doing kennel work or something small at veterinary clinics. And then they teach you as you go.”

Jones’s career path may look different than most.

“I’m not saying [vet schooling programs are] not good programs, it’s just if you don’t have the means to do that sort of thing, you can just start getting into work right away,” Jones said. “It’s not exactly the best paying job always, but we don’t usually do it for pay. That’s not what we get into it for.”

This led Jones to Wilton’s Sunset Pet Hospital where she was a veterinarian assistant.

“Wilton was awesome because it’s like a real hospital,” Jones said. “We did a lot more and had a lot more clientele. That was a really great experience.”

After six years in Wilton, Jones left to work at the Kalona Vet Clinic, where she stayed for 11 years.

“Kalona was a great experience,” Jones recalled before admitting it didn’t quite compare to her experience in Wilton. “We did basic, annual exams and basic surgeries. Some of the stuff was a little bit more extensive, but we did way more extensive stuff in Wilton.”

Something inside Jones told her she had accomplished what she wanted, freeing her to try something new.

“It’s just not something that I wanted to retire into. [After] 17 years, I think I had enough,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of young kids that are going into that profession, and I feel like I had done what I needed to do.”


Contact Jones

Gussie’s Paw Spa, situated at 118 N. Devoe, is open for appointments from Monday-Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (319) 629-4252 – leave a message if Jones does not answer – or message Gussie’s Paw Spa’s Facebook page to set an appointment for your furry friend.

The larger the dog, the longer the appointment. Some large dogs may take up to three and a half hours to groom.

Pet parents can provide previous grooming photos to give Jones a visual for what they would like done. But photos of other dogs won’t cut it, as Jones notes each dog is unique, making it hard to replicate one style on another dog.

Jones thanks the community for welcoming her with open arms, the small businesses that stock her inventory, her family and her three close friends who gave direction and the Gussie’s brand it’s look.