NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – For Jalisa Watson, opening a new pet grooming business was borne out of her lifelong love of animals. The fact that she’s basing it right here comes from her love of the city she was born and raised.

She launched Dottie’s Pet Parlor just a few months ago with her sister Jocelyn, offering a variety of grooming and bathing services for mostly dogs but cats, too.

Using skills she developed over 13 years as a groomer at a national pet store chain, Jalisa is eager to give your furry friend the royal treatment from head to tail. That’s an all-natural shampoo, a brush out and a comb out. They get their ears cleaned and, if need be, the hair inside their ears trimmed. They get their nails trimmed and, for an upcharge, dremeled to protect hardwood floors and small children.

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Every dog gets a bandana and, of course, a spritz of cologne.

The business plan is to eventually open a brick-and-mortar grooming salon where pets eat and drink at a snack bar and run around in little play yards after their baths. There will be a quiet area in the back to groom cats.

For now, Jalisa does the grooming in your home or you bring your pet to her condo. In the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s careful to clean the equipment and change out of her scrubs after each grooming session.

The personal touch customers receive at Dottie’s Pet Parlor is something that Jessica Bellizio appreciates. She recently brought in Hailey, a retired research beagle.

“What’s great about Jalisa is that knowing that Hailey does have a degree of anxiety, she’s very patient and slow and she he doesn't push when a dog is clearly uncomfortable,” Bellizio said. “That’s a definite plus as opposed to dropping her off at a corporate-style grooming facility.”

Jalisa and Jocelyn have a business model that allows them to split the work. Jalisa, who works as a scientist at Johnson & Johnson by day, does the grooming. Jocelyn, who recently earned her MBA is event planning, brings the business acumen to the operation.

“I told her and one of my other friends who I called my sister, it’s actually her best friend, once we start getting a little crazier and we get the salon, they know and that they will be starting to learn how to grow, even how to bathe,” Jalisa said.

Jalisa and Jocelyn have deep roots in New Brunswick where the Watson clan has lived for generations. They lived here, made friends here, played sports in high school here. Even their grandfather, a former New Brunswick police officer, served the city.

“It was important to me to keep the business in New Brunswick,” she said. “I want to give back to the community.”

Jalisa said she is eager to teach pet owners in the city better ways to take care of their dogs and cats. That’s why she’s hoping to do a series of seminars once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

“People can come out and learn about nutrition, about healthy weight, training them, having them in the house, other things,” she said.

And if the New Brunswick community feels like family to the Watsons, there’s the familial bond referred to in the business’ very title.

Dottie’s Pet Parlor was named in honor of a nurturing grandmother who always showed them love and support.

“She passed away about seven or eight years ago,” Jalisa said. “She had multiple strokes, she was diabetic, so she fought a good battle. I thought the best way to name my business, especially keeping it family-oriented, was to name it after my grandmother.

“No matter what, I kind of put her into what I do.”