Interview with a Dog Groomer
I interviewed Kelly Booth, a local dog groomer. We talked about dog grooming as a career, some challenges she faces at work, and what she enjoys about her job.
M: Being a dog groomer isn’t a typical occupation. When and how did you decide to pursue it as a career?
K: I knew I wanted to work with animals, so I just started applying to pet stores and veterinary clinics. I dropped off my resume at PetSmart where the manager explained the process of becoming a groomer. I would start as a bather and, if I showed potential, they would send me to the grooming “academy” which is run by PetSmart. So this is what I did, and I’ve been doing it for about three years now.
M: What kind of schooling is required, and how long does it take?
K: The training I received was pretty basic. I just went to an “academy certified” PetSmart store where I was trained how to groom. This lasted about a month and we learned how to do the different cuts on the main breeds of dogs.
M: What are some typical challenges that you face at work?
K: As you can imagine, working with dogs is not always easy. They can be temperamental and unpredictable. The most common challenge I face is grooming dogs that are just generally uncooperative, i.e.: pulling their legs when I’m trying to brush them or groom them, not standing, squirming when I’m trying to do their nails, etc. I get bit and scratched quite a lot. It can be frustrating and scary because I’m dealing with sharp objects and it can be dangerous.
It’s also really hard on your body. A lot of groomers end up getting carpal tunnel and back and leg problems.
M: What is the career path for someone who has just completed their schooling?
K: I started as a bather/brusher, which is basically just bathing and brushing out the dogs, clipping their toenails, and cleaning their ears. After about six months, I started my training. After that, I had to do a 100-dog “apprenticeship”, in which I had to groom twenty shave-downs, twenty sporting dogs, twenty short-legged terriers, twenty long-legged terriers, and twenty hand-scissor cuts. When I was finished that, I became a commissioned groomer.
M: What are the typical earnings per dog?
K: The earnings vary depending on the cut that the pet parent wants. For example, a simple shave down ranges from $55-$65 or $80-$90 for a hand-scissored poodle. Some larger dogs, like a Newfoundlander or an Old English Sheepdog, can be $100-$120. Commissions are typically 50-70%.
M: What is your favourite thing about your job?
K: I love working with animals. Sometimes we get dogs that like to give hugs and kisses. And the little puppies are always so much fun! I also really like being able to use my hands to create something. Helping the dogs feel better after being all matted is really rewarding.