Real Life as a Groomer: An Interview with Our Grooming Manager
What is grooming really like? From a little girl watching the Westminster Dog Show to becoming a grooming manager, get an inside peak at Hannah's journey to the grooming world. Our interview takes place in the grooming room as Hannah expertly shapes a dog's coat. The sound of scissors whispering and groomers chatting fill the background. Come listen in!
Q: What made you start wanting to groom dogs?
A: I didn't know about grooming for a long time, actually. But growing up I loved dogs and wanted to be a vet. I was always watching the Westminster Dog Show and I had a dog encyclopedia. If I was in the library, I was in the dog section.
I went to college in a completely different field, but after I graduated I became a bather at Petco. It turned out Petco had a program where you start as bather and then get mentored by a groomer to learn how to do haircuts. I started and was hooked.
"If I was in the library, I was in the dog section."
Q: What was your training at Petco like?
A: Yeah, so we did hands-on learning at the same time as computer work, where we learned breeds and their history, and studied different kinds of haircuts. I also had an experienced groomer as my mentor, so every dog that my mentor had, I would work on half and another of her students would work on half.
Q: Did each side end up looking different? (Laughter)
A: Yeah, they ended up looking totally different because you kind of interpreted it differently, like an art style. Someone would have to go over them and make them look uniform at the end. (More laughter.)
Q: What was most difficult for you when learning to groom?
A: The fact that different coat types lay differently. A length might look good on one dog, but it's not going to always look good on another dog. You can't just copy and paste your knowledge, you need to be able to know how to apply it to different coat types. Also, interpreting what the owner wants is difficult. They might tell you "short, but not too short" and after they leave you realize you have no idea what actually means. (Laughter.)
You can't just copy and paste your knowledge, you need to be able to know how to apply it to different coat types.
Q: Was there anything about grooming that you didn't expect?
A: "Is it wrong to say all of the poop?" (Laughter.)
"Yeah, I didn't expect that."
Q: What does your typical day at Ollu look like?
A: I usually groom five smaller dogs, or one large dog and three small dogs. We work on rotation, so we're not doing every dog straight through. Usually I'll wash, blow dry, and groom the body, then give them a break while I start on the next dog. After that I'll do the head. Doing it this way gives us wiggle room if the dog needs a break or needs to be dried with a fan instead of the high velocity blow dryer. And it lets us to get more dogs groomed in a day, since we always have a dog here to work on.
Q: What challenges come with being a groomer?
A: It's hard when dogs are coming in in a poor condition, and I know that I still have to make them look cute. Sometimes you just have to do what makes them comfortable and you can't save their coat because it wouldn't be humane. You need to balance that with owner's expectations and make people unhappy sometimes.
Q: What is your favorite part of grooming?
A: Being able to get dogs on a consistent schedule and build a relationship with them; to know their quirks and have them excited to come see me. I also like to build a relationship with the owners and have open communication so that they can get the haircut that they want.
Q: What's the longest you've groomed one dog?
A: Probably eight years. And some people have had their older dog with me and are now on their second dog, so I've been working even longer with them. Just having that consistency and being able to watch people have kids and get married and to hear about their lives too is a little perk.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone who's interested in becoming a groomer?
A: I'd say two things; Invest in good equipment and find a mentor who focuses on quality over quantity. Both of these will help you learn good, efficient prep-work which will lead to better and faster grooms.
To book an appointment with Hannah or one of our other experienced groomers, go to www.olludogwash.com/contactus.