Bob DiNunzio with a Standard Poodle in his shop, Hound ‘N Hair on North Fifth Street in Warrenton.
The youngest of three, Bob DiNunzio grew up on his own in the family home in Hershey, PA.
âWhen I was a kid my parents owned a restaurant very similar to Copacabana,â recalls Mr. DiNunzio, 72, founder and owner of Hound ‘N Hair at 5 N. Fifth St. âThey opened the night with showgirls. , and I was the only child in the house, so I was a bit lonely.
Around the age of 7, he took in two stray dogs who became his “best friends”.
Later, a dog act appeared at his parents’ nightclub and the boy struck up a conversation with the owner and animal handler, who cheered him on.
The youngster quickly liked the idea of ââworking with dogs.
His father told him that âif you really want to do something with dogs, you have to choose a breed and we’ll go from there,â Mr. DiNunzio recalls.
Mr. DiNunzio chose a sand and white collie which he named “Queenie”. Later showing off collies, the teenager made a strong impression at a competition in Harrisburg, Pa., With a couple from Northern Virginia who specialize in poodles.
Vernelle and Calvin Hartman of Chantilly asked Mr DiNunzio’s parents if the boy could work for them during the summers and the school week, as his schedule allowed.
His parents agreed and Mr. DiNunzio âcommutedâ from Hershey to Chantilly all year round.
âI was 16 and had a license,â said Mr. DiNunzio, whose parents bought him an MG Midget. âI went to school two or three days a week. And sometimes not at all, because I would rather go on the circuit. I graduated, but barely graduated.
Dyslexic, he “really, really hated” school, Mr. DiNunzio said. âI had a lot of trouble with that. I really shone in artistic things. But the school was not one of them.
He likened the unconventional arrangement with the Hartmans to “running away to the circus.”
Laughing, Mr. DiNunzio added, âMy parents were in show business. My mother was a Rockette. My dad played bass with big bands. They didn’t think about it, because they were doing the same thing.
Big names in the dog show world, the Hartmans owned around 60 poodles, DiNunzio said.
He learned a lot of what he knows about dogs from Mr. Hartman.
âEvery Sunday when we weren’t at a dog show, we took dogs out,â Mr. DiNunzio said. âHe was teaching me what was good about this one, what was good about this one. He also taught me to show these dogs even better than I did.
Mr. DiNunzio lived and worked as a couple for about 10 years – âI was more like their son; I went everywhere with them â- until the dog show circuit became a chore.
In the early 1970s, he discovered a new love for breeding and showing horses. This led Mr. DiNunzio to buy a farm near Orleans which he then sold when his interest in the business waned.
In 1976, he opened Hound ‘N Hair at the North Fifth Street space. Employing two people – a bather and a “right-hand man, Girl Friday” – Mr. DiNunzio styles 10 to 15 dogs per day, Tuesday through Friday.
Show dogs make up about 20% of the activity, he said.
âI specialize more in non-sporting dogs and soft-haired dogs,â explained Mr. DiNunzio. âI make dogs with long hair and I can make them look like anything. It’s like us. A beautiful hairstyle can really work wonders.
About a dozen years ago Mr. DiNunzio started breeding and later showing Norfolk Terriers including a 2 year old girl named Boom-Boom who won the award for best female dog at the Westminster Kennel Club’s annual all-breed dog show in 2014 in New York. .
He still breeds âNorfolksâ, which sell for $ 4,000 each, and personally show them off at about 10 competitions a year.
Work, his home, gardens and dog shows keep him busy, said DiNunzio, who has no plans to retire.
âI’m trying to get things done,â he said. âOnce I took off for two weeks and was going crazy.
Owner / groomer, Hounds’ N Hair, Warrenton, 5 N. Fifth St., 1976 to present.
â¢ Why are you doing the work?
Most people only use mowers. What I do is different. I hand scissor the dogs. The clips last longer and they look much better. And there are very few groomers in the world today who do that. It’s a real art form for me.
I like the job. I like dogs. And my clients are just wonderful. I have been here for so long that they have become my family.
One sister and three nephews.
Annville-Cleona High School, Pennsylvania, 1966.
â¢ How long have you lived in Fauquier?
About 45 years old.
â¢ Why do you live here?
âI had a friend who had a horse and I have always loved horses. When I started buying horses and showing horses, the interest grew. It was then that I decided to have my own place, where my horses could be with me rather than boarding them. So I bought a farm near Crest Hill Road (near Orleans).
â¢ How do you describe this county?
It is a great place. It’s quiet. The people are nice, sympathetic.
Along with the horses and the dogs, this makes it a very happy place. People are relaxed and they love their animals. It just makes it soft and pleasant.
â¢ What would you change at Fauquier?
I just wish there were more interesting shops and good restaurants. I wish we could have a movie theater too.
I have customers who come to the store from all over – DC, New Jersey, Richmond. They come here and they have nothing to do. Once they’ve made this town, it’s done.
Hopefully that will change soon.
â¢ What do you do for fun?
I show and breed Norfolk Terriers. I am one of the best breeders in the country. I have 7 week old puppies and they are cherished.
My house is also my pleasure. I am a crazy decorator. My house is Italian, and it’s just wild. I have a great time doing things in my house. I always add more. And I have large gardens.
â¢ What is your favorite place in Fauquier?
â¢ How will Fauquier be in 10 years?
I’m worried. Growth is not very good. They just stick things all over the place. But, hopefully, maybe someone will get in there and make sense. We’ll see.
â¢ Favorite TV show?
“CBS Sunday morning”
â¢ Favorite movie?
â¢ Favourite book?
I read magazines more than anything: Architectural Digest, design magazines, that sort of thing. I am not a big book reader.
â¢ Favorite vacation spot?
â¢ Favorite food?
â¢ What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
I think everyone told me this: relax, be yourself and people will accept you for who you are.
â¢ Who is your hero and why?
Calvin Hartman. He was a great teacher. He taught me everything. He always congratulated me. And, he never wanted anything in return.
It was almost the father that I didn’t have, because my father was gone. He was on the road with big bands.
â¢ What would you do if you won $ 5 million in the lottery?
I would put $ 1 million under my bed. I don’t know if I would do much differently.
I would probably stop working and just enjoy the rest of my life. My life is pretty well organized.
Do you have a suggestion?
Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County that you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? Email Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or Lou Emerson at LKE@fauquiernow.com