A mobile spa for Worldly Pets

In less than a year, dog groomer, trainer, walker, sitter, and enthusiast Diane True will drive her mobile grooming van down to South Carolina, leaving behind decades of pet assistance services in Marblehead and throughout the North Shore.

Parked outside her Marblehead home, True sat on the floor of “Casper,” her van equipped with a shower and tub, table, sink, and cabinets containing numerous leashes and supplies. For the last two years, True, who has groomed dogs since 1982, has traversed the Commonwealth in her four-wheel dog spa.

True said she bought the van with plans to continue her mobile business when she retires in South Carolina this August. Approaching 60, she said she wanted to cut her work down to 20-25 hours a week.

“I’m retiring, and because I’ve worked for myself for so many years — since ‘83, I’m not going to have someone telling me what to do for $10 an hour,” she said.

Meeting folks and their furry friends outside their houses, True said, is only a text message away from any client. Though she operates a walking, training, and grooming business, True said all proceeds from nail clippings — roughly $300 to $400 each week — are donated to dog rescue organizations.

“They can text me for an appointment. I don’t advertise — I don’t want to take business from the groomers in town. This is kind of like my second-hand job that I just do for the clients. I’ve had the clients that I want, the people that need it,” True said.

After graduating with an associate’s degree in Canine Science in 1985, True owned dog grooming and service businesses in Chelmsford and Sudbury. In 2003, True met Gail Novak, the owner of Worldly Pets in Marblehead. The two bonded over their shared love for Shiba Inus, and it didn’t take long for Novak and True to forge a long and fruitful friendship and business partnership.

True moved into a basement apartment in Novak’s home and began working alongside her as a manager and groomer at Worldly Pets. Novak, who has already retired, plans to join True in South Carolina with their Shiba Inus Kenji and Kyli.

“We’re on the same wavelength on everything business-wise, in what we enjoy doing together, with the dogs, just everything. She’s my best friend,” Novak said. “She can come down, work part of the day, and we can still go out and enjoy ourselves — take the dogs on hikes, do whatever we want. It’s going to be great.”