Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Beauty shop dog January 13, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:30 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Main Street in West Concord, photographed several months ago.

WHAT DO YOU KNOW about West Concord? I’m not talking Massachusetts here. I mean West Concord as in a community of 836 in southeastern Minnesota.

Up until this past fall, I had never set foot in this small town. But, while en route to the historic Dodge County seat of Mantorville, my husband and I detoured into West Concord. The fact that we had never been there prompted the stop. It was as simple as that.

Many times when we travel back roads and drive into small towns, we discover sweet surprises. West Concord was no exception. I found Fonzie there.

While my husband was exploring whatever men investigate when they’re getting impatient, I ducked into Colleen’s Salon & Gifts on West Main Street. There I met Fonzie, the beauty shop dog. He was lounging in a chair next to patron Charlotte Lurken, who was drying her hair under one of those old-fashioned bubble dryers.

Instantly, I knew this would be a story. And the photo ops, well, let’s just say I was nearly giddy when I considered the possibilities.

I wasn’t sure, though, how the women would react to my request to photograph them since they were in curlers. But, no problem. I snapped away.

Here are the results:


Fonzie relaxes in the morning sunshine next to beauty shop patron Charlotte Lurken.

Fonzie didn't even blink an eyelash when I moved in for a close-up.

Salon owner Colleen Snaza, framed by a welcome sign in the gift shop, curls a customer's hair.

Pretty sweet, huh?

Fonzie’s been hanging out at the beauty shop for about two years now, ever since owner Colleen Snaza’s husband, John, passed away. Prior to that, the Shih Tzu had spent five years at home with John, who suffered from a heart condition. And before that, the canine stayed home with Colleen for a year while she recovered from breast cancer.

Colleen began taking Fonzie to the beauty shop because she couldn’t leave him alone. He was too used to company.

Now Fonzie’s just part of the beauty shop. “He gets a lot of lovin’,” Colleen says.

And that’s the story I learned when I took the time to check out a small-town beauty shop on Main Street in West Concord.

FYI: An article I wrote about the beauty shop dog just published in the winter issue of Minnesota Moments magazine. Readers often wonder how I find my stories. It’s as simple as going off the beaten path, snooping around, asking questions and finding the simply extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary places of our lives.

WATCH FOR MORE from West Concord in upcoming blog posts.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling