Pet groomers are stylists for the animal kingdom. It's their job to keep
the animals they groom looking and feeling their best.
"Pet groomers brush, bathe, trim, clip, dry and cuddle animals. We also
rid them of external parasites and keep them safe and as happy as possible
while in our care," says groomer Peter Moran.
A groomer must be knowledgeable about different breeds of dogs and cats.
Every kennel club has strict standards about the appearance of their breed,
and many customers want their pets to meet these standards.
"Most pets need an occasional bath or dip, but the pets we see the most
have long hair or coats. People who have spent money on one of these animals
want them to look good," says Moran.
While most of a groomer's time is spent working with dogs and cats, they
may also be called on to perform their magic on other types of animals. Variety
is the name of the game.
"I work with large dogs, right down to the tiniest ones. I work with cats
-- a real challenge, since everyone knows how much cats love a bath. I have
also groomed a pet pig, sheared a sheep and clipped a rabbit, " says Moran.
Obviously, there's more to this job than just playing doggy salon. Pet
groomers have to know a lot about the whole animal.
"I try to educate my customers, make them aware of potential health problems
and also operate a referral program. A groomer usually does nails, ears, hygiene
cuts and basic grooming," says Tennessee pet groomer Terry Phelps.
Groomers deal with animals of many different temperaments -- and their
owners. Not only do groomers have to put the animals at ease, making them
feel comfortable in an unfamiliar situation, but they may also have to comfort
"Many of the animals I see are show animals, so their owners want them
looking perfect. When I'm dealing with these clients, I have to be totally
confident because then the customer senses this and feels more comfortable
with me. You have to be a bit of a psychologist in this field," says Linda
Rodrigue, a pet groomer in Wisconsin.
The job takes more than a knack with animals and people. A strong back
and manual dexterity are also important.
"A groomer should be physically strong. They will have to lift heavy animals
and equipment. Often, you'll have to hold a squirming dog and do precise work
with a razor at the same time, so it also pays to be agile and good with your
hands," says Moran.
Groomers can be self-employed and work in their homes, mobile vans (for
house calls), vets' offices, boarding kennels and at grooming shops.
Work hours and environment can vary a great deal. Weekend work and evening
work are common for groomers, who must cater to the schedules of their clients.
If they are self-employed and have a well-established clientele, they may
dictate their own schedules.