Some Time To Reflect
Today, three new students are about to start their course at my dog grooming training centre. I have prepared for their induction, their student equipment kits are all ready and everything’s good to go.
So while I await their arrival, let me take a moment to reflect back to the very start of my own Journey To The Heart Of Dog Grooming.
“What about dog grooming Pip?”
In 2010, my husband, Bob and I moved from the outskirts of London to a small rural village in North Norfolk, a few miles from a super dog friendly coast. I left a high pressured retail design job in the capital, for a less stressful life in the countryside, along with our treasured dogs.
We spent the first couple of years renovating our cosy little home and its cottage garden. I built raised beds and grew a whole assortment of fruit and vegetables, I even won some rosettes at our village horticultural fete. For those of you old enough to remember the TV series, it really was ‘The Good Life.’
However, by the time our freezer was overflowing with blanched peas and beans, my enthusiasm started to wane. Consequently, I began to feel a little low and somewhat unmotivated. I have a naturally creative personality, with a brain that can surge into creative overdrive at the slightest mention of something that excites me. These surges are always immensely exhilarating and productive. Equally, they can lead to total exhaustion, and depression has shadowed my fifty years of life.
My husband had just suggested ‘dog grooming’ and a tiny switch in my brain had triggered.
A Less Stressful Life
At that moment in time, my dog grooming knowledge was limited to my experiences with my own dogs, Irish Setters Patrick and Ziggy, who were two years old when we moved.
Before our move, a friend’s daughter had groomed the boys a couple of times. She had done a course and set up a small dog grooming salon in her mum’s converted garage. To be honest I didn’t really give a lot of thought to what the boys actually went through during their groom, I just dropped them off and returned to pick them up several hours later. She was a sweet girl but very shy and she always seemed extremely flustered and relieved to be handing them back.
Dog Grooming Alarm Bells
Shortly after we moved, we found a local dog grooming salon and booked the boys in. Noticeably, it was on the second visit that alarm bells started to ring. As we pulled up, Ziggy began to whimper and shake, his tail tucked tight under his body, he seemed distinctly nervous and scared.
Certainly, I felt uncomfortable, as I led them in to the premises and took a moment to look around. I noticed a selection of metal crates along one wall with dogs inside, clearly eager to observe the new arrivals, one barking quite forcefully. Ziggy cowered as we passed. Another big wet dog was leashed, up on a high table and appeared to be pacing and panting, as a lady was blasting it with an extremely loud hair drying hose. She paused momentarily, so that we could hear ourselves speak.
As I left them, I knew this environment was causing my dogs stress, but what choice did I have? Surely, there must be alternative grooming options out there, and I resolved to do some research.
A Sickening Experience
What better, I thought, than a lady who advertised herself as a mobile dog groomer and could come to our house.
Well, how wrong was I. She spent the first chaotic hour, attempting to wash the boys, on her hands and knees in our shower cubicle. Leaving wet red hair plastered everywhere, she proceeded to lift Patrick on to a small wobbly pop up table. Next, came blow drying, whilst brusquely yanking at his coat with a large curved metal pinned brush.
Patrick proceeded to throw up! Everywhere! This was the point, I decided to learn to groom them myself.
DIY Dog Grooming
Over the next few months, I bought and immersed myself in a couple of breed specific grooming books. I ordered a pair of plastic handled thinning scissors and a couple of other tools, and worked my way through the various processes fairly successfully. It was enjoyable but, most importantly I was tending to Patrick and Ziggy’s grooming needs, without terrified dogs and vomit.
Hence Bob’s “What about dog grooming Pip?” suggestion.