1. Can you shortly describe a typical day on the job?
I begin to set up for the day at 8, ensuring all the equipment is out, clean and charged. I fill up water bowls, mix the shampoos and ensure the bath is ready for the first dog of the day. I greet all the clients, ensure I understand what hairstyle they want for their pup, and write the important notes down, so I don’t forget who wants what.
Next is bathing the first dog and ensuring they are clean from nose to tail. I clean the ears and cut their nails whilst the conditioner sits to ensure the coat stays soft and healthy. Then I quickly towel dry to get the dog to stop dripping water everywhere. Once they’ve been towel dried, I spray the fast-drying spray and some detangling spray all over the damp coat, put on the dog’s ear protection and then my own and completely dry them using our high-velocity dryer.
Once the dog is 100% dry, I must brush them out thoroughly to ensure the hair-cutting process goes as smoothly as possible. The best method of brushing a dog is by using a slicker brush and metal comb. First, brush with the slicker, then comb. If the comb glides through, the coat Is perfect, and I’m ready to move on to the hair-cutting process.
I review the dog’s client card with everything we have done previously and compare the card to the notes I had written earlier. Once I’ve got an idea of what I’m doing, I begin by shaving out the dog’s paw pads to ensure they have a good grip, and I shave their sani area so they stay nice and hygienic.
Then is the rest of the body to the length discussed, making sure I leave a smooth, even finish. I trim their tail and clean up around their feet, ensuring it’s all symmetrical and cute. Lastly, I do the dog’s head, ears and face. Cleaning up the hair from inside their ears and making sure they can see by tidying up around their eyes. I ensure they don’t have hair stuck in their mouth and are both adorable and comfortable. I then give them a bandanna and spray them with some doggy cologne before sending them on their way.
Usually, when my first dog is pawfect and out playing with their besties, the bather has come in and got another dog clean, dried, and brushed for me to start the hair-cutting process again.
Then I clean everything. I clean and oil all the blades and scissors. I clean the bathtub and the bottles used for the shampoos and conditioners. I disinfect all the tables, shelves, and crates, clean all the filters for the dryers and clean the windows before I sweep, vacuum, and mop the floors.
I ensure all the clippers are on charge and check the stock levels of all the things that have been used, refilling things if needed.
Once everything is clean and stocked, I put all the dirty towels in the washing machine before locking up and going home.
2. Why did you choose to become a dog groomer as your career? What or who inspired you to do so?
I had always wanted a puppy. Ever since I can remember, I’d ask for one at every birthday, Christmas, Easter etc. Finally, for my 11th birthday, I was surprised by two 10-year-old rescue dogs. They were the best thing ever. I was so overjoyed, beyond excited. I quickly learnt that as they were long-haired, they needed brushing and haircuts. And as an 11-year-old, I didn’t fully grasp what needed to be done to maintain their coats. It took me two years and the loss of one of them to realise that daily brushing and frequent haircuts were the answer. Getting her professionally done wasn’t in the picture for me, budget-wise.
I decided to give it a go myself. As a 14-year-old, I began watching every video I could find online. I would watch hour-long videos, enjoying every second, knowing in my heart that that’s what I wanted to do. I tried using my newfound love for the craft and basic knowledge to the test and attempted to give my 13-year-old rescue girl a haircut. She was the perfect model sitting very still and patient with me. But unfortunately, the haircut did not go to plan. So, I waited a month or two and tried again.
I was slowly improving myself and growing to love the process more and more. After I lost her when she was 14 to some ongoing health problems, I rescued a new dog, this time a young dog with short hair that didn’t require brushing. I didn’t realise until I got a second shorthaired rescue that I truly missed the calming nature of brushing and trimming their hair. I forgot how joyous the transformation was; it felt like something was missing in my life. So, I started training as a groomer and haven’t been happier.
3. What three key personality aspects or skills make for a professional dog groomer?
Patience, creativity and the ability to remain calm even if the situation is a bit scary so as not to escalate it.
4. What have you learned about yourself through your work?
I’ve come to understand my passions and love for dogs better. The more I am around them, the more I love them. Dogs have helped me realise what kind of person I want to be. Dogs are non-judgmental and kind; they are forgiving, loyal and courageous. They are just like me in the sense that they don’t have many expectations; if you have food, they’ll be your best friend.
5. What’s been your best moment while doing your work?
I love seeing each dog’s transformations when they come to the salon. They never quite look like the same dog that came in when they left and don’t smell the same.
6. And a difficult moment?
Seeing severely matted dogs. That must have been so uncomfortable; the hair came off in a pelt, like a carpet. I wonder how people let their pets get like that. But I’m glad I’m here to help the pups feel better and hopefully help educate their Pawrents to understand better what’s required to maintain the coat.
7. How do you keep going when things get challenging?
The dogs make that part easy. They’re all so forgiving, happy for a cuddle or ready for a play; they make you forget all the hard things in life.
8. Are there any surprising or odd things people wouldn’t expect if they picked this career?
You need to be stronger than I first anticipated because most bigger dogs refuse to help you get them on the table, so I usually aim to lift them. And for the older pooches with arthritis and other medical issues, they must also be lifted down.
9. Can you share a funny or weird story about something you experienced in your role?
I always ensure the dogs don’t hide in the cupboards in the salon because once, I had finished a little dog, put her bandanna on her etc. and set her on the ground so she could get a drink of water. I realised a few minutes later that I had accidentally left the bandanna cupboard open, so I just shut it and thought nothing of it. Until I went looking for the little dog, I had put on the floor for a drink so I could let her out to play. I couldn’t find her anywhere and asked others if they’d seen her. Everyone looked in every nook and cranny until someone thought to look in all the cupboards. And there she was. Fast asleep in the cupboard like nothing had happened. She was completely fine and had just found herself a comfy spot for a nap.
10. What advice would you give young people considering pursuing a career in this industry?
If you love dogs and you’re patient and calm, I say go for it. It’s the best thing I ever did. You get to help many people and, more importantly, help many pups look, feel and smell their best.