“A love for animals doesn’t just happen overnight, it takes a life time to acquire.”
I have always been an animal lover. Some of my earliest
memories are of the many pets I “dragged home”, foundlings I could not resist.
Once I even brought home a kitten and kept it hidden in my bedroom closet for a
week until it was discovered! There has
never been a period in my life when I did not have at least one pet.
I also show and breed yorkies, and continue to do yorkie rescue. By being a recsue person, I discovered that there are so many dogs, cats, birds, and other little animals that need to be rescued. I have limited my breeding of dogs, and try to instead promote animal rescue. As a groomer I hear about people who can no longer keep their pets, and I meet a lot of people who are looking for a new pet… A win/win combination for sure.
I began to learn grooming at a local school for groomers, but, in my opinion, the guy in charge was very abusive and harsh to the dogs in his care. He was teaching his students how to dominate the pets they worked on, and told us it was “the only way”. After about a week of going home crying about the abuse I witnessed, I quit the school and decided that if you had to be mean to be a groomer, it was not for me. I worried every night thinking how he treated the poor dogs who came there, and wondered if their owners even had a clue as to what went on there after they dropped their doggies off. My sister in law told me about a nice groomer that she went to at the time, and urged me to go and talk to her. After a while I did, and she agreed to take me on as an apprentice. It was slow and steady progress, and I learned patience and compassion towards my clients from her. After about a year, I was ready to go out on my own. I wanted to do mobile grooming, so I bought an old (23 years old!!) nearly used up grooming van, and I was on my way! I laugh about it when I think back on those early days in my grooming career. Soon I was buying another older camper van and re fitted it myself, along with the help of my young but very handy nephew Kevin. He did the electrical wiring, and my brother Donnie did the flooring and the plumbing. It was a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Two years after that I bought a brand new van and we also built the entire thing ourselves. I had tons of regular clients, never had to advertise, and was as busy as I could be. Life was good! Then, in 2001 I had a terrible surgical problem and could not continue working in the mobile van and had to sell it, along with my business. After a 23 month long recuperation, I decided I was ready to return to grooming, and opened a small grooming shop and doggie boutique in my neighborhood. I was there for 4 years before I was able to open “Posh Paws” with the help and support from a wonderful friend, and business partner, Bruce Seguin.
My theory of compassionate grooming is to simply put myself in the pets place. How would I feel if another animal, 10 times my size, and coming at me with loud, scary, and “not so fun” equipment while I did not understand what they were going to do and why…and having memories of unpleasant things happening at this kind of place before??? How would I feel in that poor creatures place? I try to keep them calm by speaking calmly to them, acting in a confident and upbeat manner while handling them, and letting them know that grooming is not such a bad thing. I do this with lots of praise, and keep talking to them in a reassuring happy tone while doing the required task at hand. Mutual respect soon follows and the pets I groom usually react in a positive manner. I do not believe that yelling at or hitting a defenseless animal will make them more cooperative, and that a reward will get me a lot more cooperation from them than a punishment would. While some animals have been mistreated or even inadvertently hurt at a groomers in their past, to a point that they just cannot trust or calm down, I try to always keep in mind the fear they are experiencing and treat them with compassion, even if I do have to use a muzzle or an extra pair of hands to get them groomed.
We have now been open here on Crocker for 6 years now, and even though the economy has taken it's toll on everyone, we have held our own and I feel that the economy is on the upswing. We have a wonderful staff of groomers and a bather who mixes premium shampoos and conditioners according to each and every pets unique needs based on its medical condition, skin issues, coat type and breed type. in addition to myself, between us all we have nearly 45 years of experience!