A Passion for Paws

Taking in an animal is a journey of its own, however, traveling hundreds of miles in the pursuit of a new life is more than an average adventure. From underdog to ownership, Paw Paw Patch owner Tavo Cruz has the experience and dedication to continue bettering the lives of animals in the Ark-La-Tex region.

Tavo Cruz grew up in the small town of Agua Dulce Papantla, Veracruz. His oldest sister, a struggling single mother at the time, was granted an opportunity to come to the states. Tavo’s mother, not wanting his sister to go alone, asked that one of the other children go with her. Because his other siblings had established lives in Veracruz, Tavo, being the youngest at fifteen, stepped up to the plate and decided to journey with his sister to America.

Upon arriving in the states, Tavo and his sister first traveled to Tyler, Texas where a cousin offered to take them in. After several weeks, they made their way toward Texarkana, Texas. Not long after their arrival, they met the original owners of the Paw Paw Patch, Wesley and Joe Aaron. The Aarons, desperately needing help in their business of dog grooming, hired on Tavo’s sister, and soon after, Tavo as well. Because Tavo’s move to the states had happened so quickly, he had not been given the chance to learn any English. Luckily, he was gifted the opportunity to study English several times a week under the council of Mrs. Pat Hubbard. Thanks to her, he was able to become fluent and confident in the language.

Tavo continued to work for the Aarons, who would often travel for weeks at a time and leave Tavo in charge. After six years, the Aarons decided to sell their business to Curtis and Loretta Rose. The Roses purchased the business under the agreement that Tavo would stay as well. Tavo continued working for the Roses for another five or six years, until they had decided to sell the business as well. With the previous owners retiring, Tavo saw an opportunity to buy the business for himself, and with the help of his friend Larry, Tavo became the official owner of the Paw Paw Patch.

In becoming owner of the Paw Paw Patch, Tavo has seen the business grow exponentially year after year. As of today, the Paw Paw Patch has received the Four States Living Magazine’s Best of Texarkana’s Pet Groomer award seventeen times! He has also received the Texarkana Gazette Reader’s Choice Award, as well as ALT Magazine’s Best Groomer award. As far as business itself, Tavo explains that they currently groom roughly forty dogs a day! The Paw Paw Patch also offers boarding, and although boarding business had slowed during the pandemic, it is now beginning to pick back up.

The success of the Paw Paw Patch comes as no surprise when seeing Tavo’s love for animals. “I love what I do. It is tiring, it is stressful, but I’ve had no regrets since starting this in 1989.” When asked about his own pets, “I always had a lot of dogs all my life, even when I was little. My dad didn’t like dogs, so often I would come back from school to see he had gotten rid of them. When I was able to have dogs here in the states, I went for it. At one time I even had about nine dogs. Dogs are my children. They are my kids. I just love animals, I always have.” Tavo has supported many local fundraisers and has even sponsored several shelter dogs. He currently takes care of five rescues, including one he took in last year that had been abandoned at Hawk Stadium. He offers service discounts for rescued animals as well.

With thirty-two years of cutting hair under his belt, Tavo explains that he does all of the scissor-work himself but could not have done it without the help of his staff. He and his five staff members work as hard as they can to ensure the business stays efficient. His mother even helps around the shop as well. When asked if he has any tips for pet owners and customers, he emphasized the importance of owners brushing their pets prior to grooming. “Some dogs get too full of mats, and it becomes hard on the dog if you are pulling their hair. You really have to brush them several times a week to avoid mats.”

On his journey to success, and with his passion for pets, Tavo is the perfect example of one who has dedicated his life to not only helping his family, but ensuring the safety and care of everyone’s furry family members. With his love for animals, you can be sure that Tavo will provide your family with a PAWSitive experience!


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