Sorry, Not Sorry

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Sorry, not sorry.

Took me a long time to be comfortable in my own skin. To be unapologetic about my beliefs and things that simply bring me joy.

Marie Kondo would be so proud of me.

I was at All American one year and my daughter who lives in the area came and met me at the show with my birthday present. It was a fairly large rose quartz with a black tourmaline running through it. With no place to put it, I simply carried it around the show.

Then Daryl Conner walked up to me and said, “Um, no none is surprised to see you walking around with a rock.”

You know what else happened?

People started asking me about that rock. What was it? It’s so pretty. Then I posted that rock on Facebook. I got a lot of messages. Most were positive and a couple of people got unfriended. My brother called me a heathen and got blocked. However, that was a long time coming.

*Pro Tip: You do not have to be friends with anyone who disrespects you and  that includes family.

Me being me connected me with my people, my clients. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, whether its personal or business. It’s why I retired from grooming to teach and coach full time. Even though I was told that wasn’t feasible.

If you don’t want clients over 25 pounds? Then don’t.

If you want to respond via text to clients? Then do.

Want purple hair? Then dye it.

Don’t think you can add any more porcelain poodles to your shop? I beg to differ.

Tell me how you’re doing you.

Creating Harmony In The Grooming Facility

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Several years ago I received a call from a pet owner wondering if I groom “evil Chihuahuas.” Her longhaired chihuahua, Pepe was banned from yet another grooming shop. It had been suggested to her that Pepe would need sedation at a veterinarian’s office in order to be groomed. 

As a Chihuahua mom, I know firsthand they can react to stressful situations with aggression. We referred to my Chihuahua, Baby, as Grumpy Boy on many an occasion. It was possible that Pepe was overwhelmed in a grooming shop and in a less stimulating atmosphere; such as my mobile grooming van he might behave. It was with that thought I agreed to groom him. I groomed him until I retired.

Why did Pepe go from evil to pleasant in short order?

The truth is it is not what I have; it is what I lack.

I do not have:

  1. A stream of people coming in and out throughout the day.
  2. Ringing phones.
  3. Other dogs and/or cats.
  4. Several dryers on at the same time.
  5. Pets on grooming tables across from each other.
  6. Groomers walking past each other with pets.
  7. Vacuum cleaners running with pets present.
  8. Many different scents from shampoos to fragrances to cleaning supplies filling the air.

All of these distractions have the potential to over-stimulate even the calmest of pets. As shop owners, what changes can be made to minimize the effects of normal day-to-day operations?



Did you know that when you are surrounded by disorganization, your body secretes Cortisol? Cortisol is a stress hormone. Animals can smell those hormones and may react to our stress levels. In addition, according to Feng Shui, clutter blocks energy from free flow and results in tired energy. Cleaning and re-organizing your shop can result in calmer, more efficient groomers.


There are many studies done by universities regarding the effect color has on our productivity and emotions. Advertisers have fully embraced this concept since color print ads became available. It is not a coincidence that the major fast food chains use red, yellow, and orange in their packaging and logos. In fact, you are more likely to consume three times the calories there than in a restaurant using blue. Next time you are shopping, look at the packaging you are first attracted to. Woman are more likely to buy pastel or muted color packaging while men like dark and bold colors.

The colors best suited for a grooming shop are both light blues and greens. Blues are calming and relaxing. Green is soothing on the eyes and may reduce stress. In fact, studies show that people who work in green offices are happier and more productive. If it is not feasible to repaint, then add in blues and greens. Suggestions include new grooming smocks, curtains, policy signs, or paint the workstations.



Dr. Deborah Wells, a psychologist and animal behaviorist, completed a research project to determine the effects of classical, heavy metal, pop, talk, and no sound had on animals. The study concluded that pop, talk, and no sound had no effect one way or the other. However, heavy metal caused increase in agitation and barking amongst the dogs in the study. Classical music resulted in calmer dogs that spent more time resting rather than standing and barking. The other benefit of classical music is that it also improved the mood and reduced stress in people.

Good musical choices include classical and pop. My personal choice is a CD titled Chakra Suite by Steven Halpern.




There are three choices in lighting. The first is natural or full spectrum. This light spans the full visual spectrum, similar to that of the sun. The second is incandescent lights. It is close to full spectrum, but not quite. The third is fluorescent lighting, which has a very limited visual spectrum.

Our body chemistry and that of the pet is based on a day/night cycle. If not enough time is spent in full sunlight, it impacts the circadian rhythm, which in turn affects the hormones. The circadian rhythm is a biological process that sets the body’s internal clock to 24 hours.

The effects of this disruption may include migraines, eyestrain, problems sleeping, depression, unhealthy immune and endocrine systems, stress, anxiety, and obesity. By replacing the fluorescent bulbs with either incandescent or full spectrum may help mitigate these problems.


The sense of smell is linked to the limbic system. The limbic system is the oldest part of our development. It is connected to the parts of the brain that control blood pressure and stress levels. In addition, the olfactory center (the nose) interacts with the hippocampus (seat of the memory) in the brain. The first sniff of something will trigger a nerve response. Different fragrances will illicit different responses.

Calming scents include: rose, jasmine, neroli, geranium, lavender, chamomile, coconut, and sandlewood.

Uplifting scents include: basil, citrus, catnip, cedar wood, cinnamon, eucalyptus, grapefruit, and lemon.

A note for cats:

Cats cannot metabolize many essential oils because they lack the necessary enzymes. Instead of releasing the oils through their livers, they are stored there instead. Over time, it can cause physical harm to the cat. As a general rule, I do not use essential oils around cats. I will, however, diffuse hydrosols into the air around healthy cats. Hydrosols are the steam distillates of essential oils and are a safer alternative.

Positive Energy


Did you know that happiness is contagious? That’s because our body secretes endorphins when we are happy. On the flip side, anger is a heavy energy that does not seem to dissipate. Both moods can infect those around you. Keeping the work area positive may mean you need to release the negative.

As both a Reiki and Crystal Therapy practitioner, I use both to keep the energy light, positive, and free flowing in my mobile grooming van. I have rose quartz tucked away in many corners of van including the tub.

Turned out that Pepe was never an evil Chihuahua. Maybe a little misunderstood and definitely overwhelmed. He was an easy groom and mom is very appreciative that her little baby is well taken care of. And is that not what we strive for?

Want to join us for the Groomers Health And Wellness Summit on July 11/12th, 2021 for 2 days of life changing workshops. Drop me a message.

10 Tips To Make The Most Of Trade Shows


WooHoo! Trade shows are back. It’s been awhile, so here are 10 tips to make the most of your experience.

  1. Let your credit card companies know you’re attending a trade show. Vendors will run your card as if it was at their home location. Visa will have a meltdown and may stop your card.
  2. Answer that call from the 800 number. It’s probably your CC verifying you’re making the purchases. If you don’t, they may put a stop on your card. That’s sucks after you’ve been making 45 minutes on line and now have to contact your CC and get back in line.
  3. Put your CC in RFID sleeves so that someone walking past with a scanner doesn’t grab your CC info.
  4. Bring cash in the event your CC is stopped and you need money now.
  5. Wear comfortable shoes.
  6. Pre-order must haves. Nothing worse than coming without what you went to the show for.
  7. Bring a couple of bottled of water. It’ll be cheaper than the $6 bottles for sale at the show.
  8. Don’t put your purse or packages on the ground. You will either forget them or make it easy for someone walking by to grab and keep going. Backpacks in between your legs or wheeled suitcases are better.
  9. Don’t talk on your cell while walking out to put purchases in your vehicle. You are distracted and will make an easy target.
  10. Watch your friends at the bar. Specifically look for someone “helping” them to their room. Their drink may have been drugged.

Above all, have fun and say hi if you see me.

Why Your Business Needs A How To Manual

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Why Does Your Business Need A How-To Manual?

You don’t think it could ever happen to you, but what happens if you are hospitalized by any of a hundred reasons. Is there someone who can run your business as you are currently doing? Will your business still be there when you recover? Or worse, will mounting bills and no income force you into bankruptcy?

Let’s not get so dramatic.

Can you take a vacation and not worry about your business?

A business manual can keep you from living in your car or simply allow you to enjoy a vacation by detailing the how-to’s of running your business in a neat little package. It allows someone to temporarily take over your business for the period of time you need them to. Whether it be a week in the Caribbean or a month in the hospital.  In addition, it makes training employees so much easier.

A business manual will also increase the value of your business should you decide to sell.

It should include the following:

  1. Names and contact information of vendors, employees, and all service providers.
  2. Login and passwords for software, banking, and websites.
  3. Business credit card information.
    *any sensitive financial information can be kept in a separate manual.
  4. The current years business plan.
  5. Monthly planning session notes.
  6. Daily business routines. And I mean everything your business does from when you unlock the door in the morning until you shut off the lights and go home. This will also streamline training new employees.
  7. Current marketing plan, along with metrics.
  8. Copies of all forms, waivers, and checklists.
  9. Employee handbook.

While this is a time-consuming task, it will be well worth it the first time you need to use it.


Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader.

You can contact Mary by dropping a message or email her at [email protected]

Keeping Pet Grooming Shops Clean And Sanitary

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We have a responsibility to keep our facilities clean and sanitary for the pets in our care, as well as for staff and clients. On one hand, we don’t want to be exposed to noxious chemicals several times a day as there are many studies that link long-term use of such products to chronic health concerns. On the other, we need to be thorough. Any facility should choose at least two different types of disinfectants that are alternated. It will help to prevent contagions becoming resistant to one disinfectant in particular.

It Begins With Cleaning

Cleaning removes the most common vectors of transmission for contagions. Contagions are bacteria, viruses, and spores that have the potential to spread disease.  They are biological in nature and common vectors for their transmission include hair, dander, dirt, blood, urine, and feces. Cleaners do not necessarily disinfect. You need a disinfectant to disable the contagion to prevent cross contamination. But disinfectants work better on clean surfaces.

What Are Your Options For Cleaning And/Or Disinfecting?

Air Cleaners


To efficiently clean the air without neurochemicals, air circulation fans, and salt lamps are effective. Effective air circulation needs intake and outtake fans. The larger the facility, the more complicated this becomes and you may need to hire an HVAC company to install a system. Salt lamps neutralize positively charged bacteria, dust, and pollen when they are heated by lamp or candle. The heat attracts water in the air and separates the salt ions. There is now more loose negatively charged chloride ions that can bind with those positively charged bacteria in the air. That’s the flaking you see on the counter around salt lamps.

Air cleaners do not disinfect.




10% bleach kills everything. Not 9.9 %. Higher concentrations are not more effective.  It is very corrosive and toxic. Use with safety gear.

Chlorohexidine Based Disinfectant


Effective disinfectant that kills most everything. But not 100% everything.

Enzymatic Cleaners


These spray cleaners utilize enzymes to break down bacteria and dirt. In addition, they penetrate porous surfaces such as grout, floor and wall seams.


Essential Oils


Essential oils such as Lemon, Wild Orange, and Eucalyptus are great for cleaning. You can find many cleaning recipes online. Essential oils will leave a residue when dried. They should not be used around cats, as cats cannot metabolize most essential oils.

50/50 Vinegar to Water Mix


Vinegar is mildly acidic and as such has anti-bacterial properties. However, the EPA does not list it as a disinfectant. Vinegar is also abrasive and breaks up dirt and oils. If you want it to smell better, then add some orange or lemon rinds to the bottle. You can add essential oils as well, but make sure any cats do not have access to those surfaces. Oils may leave a residue that can be absorbed through cat’s pads.

Hydrogen Peroxide


One cup of hydrogen peroxide to a gallon of water can be used as a cleaner. Hydrogen peroxide is listed as antibacterial and antiviral from the EPA. In order to take advantage of those disinfecting properties it must:

  1. Be undiluted in the brown bottle. Once opened or used in clear containers will start the degradation process. Hydrogen peroxide will turn into water.
  2. Remain on the surface for 20 minutes.

Portable Steam Cleaners


The reservoir is filled with water and the steam cleaner heats the water hot enough to produce steam. Unlike many liquid cleaners, a steam cleaner can get into porous surfaces such as grout and floor and wall seams.



Plain old soap and water as it removes the biological that may cause transmission of disease when washing our hands and rinsing down the tub in between pets.


Store Bought Cleaning Products

As cleaning products are not for human consumption, the terms “Green” or “Natural” may not mean much as the terms are not regulated. There may be “greenwashing” going on the label. Greenwashing is a term used to describe a product as natural and healthy, when in reality it’s not. It sounds good, but that’s it.  Nothing more than marketing. It’s important to read labels and visit websites. The EPA has a program called Safer Choice. In order to be on their list, manufacturers must follow strict guidelines. You can look up companies at easily find safer alternatives.

Quaternary Ammonium Products


Aka Quats are very effective against most everything and should be one of your two disinfectant choices.  Brand names usually include “ 256” in the name.

Undiluted 70 % Rubbing Alcohol


Rubbing alcohol is considered a solvent and dissolves dirt and oils. It is used in hospitals.  Even though cats cannot metabolize alcohol, it dries almost instantly and without residue, therefore it can be used around cats once the alcohol has dried. If used as a disinfectant, the surface must remain wet for 10 minutes.

UV Light

This technology has come a long way. There are smaller units for equipment and reasonably priced units that will disinfect an entire shop.

Many of these products require the use of specific safety equipment, directions, and OSHA will have requirements you need to follow. If you are not sure if you are OSHA compliant, contact them and request an inspection. If you request it, rather than a spot inspection, they will give you time to become compliant.

Resources For You

Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader. And has been recognized by the pet industry as such.

You can contact Mary by dropping a message or email her at [email protected]

Survey Says


How do you really know what clients want? Or better yet, how do you know what you’re best clients find important. Ask them. A survey is one of the most underrated, yet powerful tools in a marketing toolkit.

 What Does A Survey Accomplish?

  1. Improves Service By Offering Actionable Insights:Your clients are taking the guesswork out by telling you exactly what they do not like. It identifies your weaknesses so that you can implement the necessary improvements.
  2. Measures Customer Satisfaction: You are able to recognize and capitalize on what makes you special, as well as identify your client advocates. Advocates are those wonderful people that you can get testimonials from.
  3. Increases Customer Retention:You are validating your client’s importance to your business. Your business is telling them that their feelings are valued. Clients who feel important are more likely to stay and tell their friends how awesome you are.
  4. New Ideas for Products and Services: Be on the forefront of new marketing trends by offering what other facilities are not.

Sample 5 question survey:

“I keep my survey short and to the point. I prefer brief, easy answers as opposed to a number ranking. Number rankings do not give the entire story or offer the insight needed to effect real changes. However, written answers may not be filled out without some sort of hold (return of their pet) or small token (inexpensive gift or coupon).” -Mary

  1. What Do You Like Best About My Service? 

By starting out with a positive, it begins on a constructive, rather than a destructive note. Repeated words and phrases can be used for other marketing materials such as websites, ads, and brochures. If it is important to current clients, it will attract future customers. It also identifies those clients that are open to a testimonial.

  1. What Do You Like Least About My Service? 

This identifies where I can improve, particularly if several people mention the same thing. Most of the time it is very specific to the client. They didn’t like the shampoo scent or wanted the rear feathering removed or wondered if there are weekend appointments. All very easily remedied resulting in very happy clients.

  1. What Service Would You Like to See Offered?

This will identify upcoming marketing trends. Even if it is only a handful of people who request a new service, word gets around.

  1. What Products Would You Like to See Offered?

Retailing is very doable in a mobile unit. Check out the section detailing how to add retail.

  1. Any Thoughts on How I Can Improve?

This is rather open ended and a much harder question to answer. While not always filled out, it can offer incredible insight.

It is as easy to hand the survey to the client when I arrive. If the owner will not be home, email the survey along with their appointment and tell them you will pick it up when you arrive. 100% fill out rate is doable.

Surveys can help pinpoint strengths and weaknesses allowing you to make changes that correspond with the direction you want your business to grow in. 


Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader.

You can contact Mary by dropping a message or email her at [email protected]

Build Your Retirement One Groom At A Time

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You aren’t a bad person if you didn’t have three months set aside to cover you during a worldwide pandemic.(The only difference between you and the airlines in 2020 was that you didn’t get a bailout.)
But, unlike the airlines, you can use COVID as a learning experience.

Now that you’re back in business, make it a point to save.
One dog a week is your emergency fund.
Then add one dog each a week for:
🐶 Maintenance
🐶 Education

You might be thinking, “But, Mary, that was an entire day's worth of work I'm putting to the side and I can't afford to have an entire days off!”

Calm down, grasshopper.

Start with one dog.
Then, when you’re in a better position, add another.
Keep adding dogs until there are five of them playing together happily at the bank waiting to be there to cheer you up when things are looking down again.

Which dog would you start with first?


Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader.

You can contact Mary by dropping a message or email her at [email protected]

Should You Be A Business Owner

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Should You Be A Business Owner?

In September of 2001, I made my first decisive business decision. I quit my job to start a mobile pet grooming pet business. In 2001, it was a young industry with no success stories. (Yet)

What I had going for me was motivation, excitement, and a willingness to learn.

As I look back over the years, I can identify some traits that contributed to the success of my business. Some of these traits were a natural gift, but many others were a learned skill. Here are my four of my business lessons.

  1. I am responsible for my attitude. Blaming others or circumstances will not solve the problem. Viewing setbacks as an opportunity to find a solution is a necessary business skill. It is easier to act rather than react if I take the time to plan a business manual that outlines policies and procedures with checklists for probable problems. Realize that I will not be everyone’s cup of tea and develop thicker skin when dealing with unhappy clients. When I demonstrate excitement about my business, that positive attitude is infectious. I will not expect those around me to be excited to be my client if they see I am unhappy.
  1. I will make decisions. Right or wrong. Right will propel me forward and wrong will teach a lesson. Remember that roads are littered with dead squirrels who couldn’t make a decision to go or stay. The more you practice making quick, decisive decisions, the better you will get at them. I will take the time to understand my strengths and weaknesses. I will build on my strengths and hire out or learn to circumvent my weaknesses. I understand that I do not have to do everything, delegate responsibility whenever feasible.
  1. This is my business that I have clearly defined visions and goals. Uncertainty is also contagious. If I can’t visualize where I want my business to go, then creativity and imagination dry up. Perseverance is difficult when you don’t know what direction to go in. I will take the time the organize every aspect of my business and make an operating manual. Something that I can refer back to whenever I feel a little stuck and need guidance.
  1. I will operate my business fairly and with integrity, including myself. I will value continuing education and seek help from those more knowledgeable when necessary.

For best results- repeat daily.


Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader.

You can contact Mary by dropping a message or email her at [email protected]

Setting Boundaries

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Setting Boundaries In Your Business

When we were sitting down with the builders to design our home in Washington, I made some special requests regarding the placement of my office. Specifically, I wanted my office at the other end of the house. The more doors between my office and the living space, the better.

I needed my office to be separate from the home. I was setting a boundary.

We all hear how important it is to establish boundaries, but why is it so important.

I love this quote by Brene Brown. “When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why, we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful then addressing a behavior or a choice.”


Boundaries keeps emotion from taking over. Drama in the workplace, whether it stems from clients or employees is exhausting. Setting and enforcing expectations from either can prevent incidents instead of escalating them.

Boundaries can keep us from resenting our business. If, as a business owner, you dread going to work, the business is no longer your passion. It becomes a job.

You can set boundaries by defining acceptable behavior from your clients, employees, as well as your family and friends that is positive, respectful, and productive.  There is great value in a closed door that people around you honor.

Establishing clear communications through policy and procedure forms and waivers for clients, and detailed expectations in employee manuals will set realistic and expected behavior for those all around. Include If This- Then That rules of conduct.

For example:

If a client insults or berates one of your employees, then they are no longer welcome in your establishment.

If an employee calls out on a regular basis, then they need to find alternate employment.

You get the idea.

In addition, set boundaries with yourself that includes establishing morning and evening routines, as well as regular self-care.

Don’t let your business become a job.


Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader.

You can contact Mary by dropping a message or email her at [email protected]

Recognizing The Red Flag Client

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Recognizing The Red Flag Client

There is a cost to your business when you either ignore of don’t recognize a red flag in a client. We’ve all been there and kicked ourselves when we booked that “How bad could it really be client.” For ease of math, any examples I use will assume the groom was $100 and it took you an hour.

These include:

  1. Your time spent appeasing them or dealing with the fallout. If this was a non-red flag client, then this pet brought $100 into your business and you’ve spent one hour of your time. But you’ve just spent one hour on the phone with a complaint and other hour responding to social media and reviews. That’s 3 hours and that $100 an hour is now $33 an hour. If it escalates further, will your business make minimum wage or will it even cost you money?
  2. A hit to morale of yourself and staff. Then add it emotional distress caused by abusive clients.

What are some red flags?

  1. Questioning your pricing. Or the place down the street charges this amount. Or I’ve never paid more than this amount. Or would you do it for this price.

Have you ever had your doctor give you a price break because you scheduled both your kids at the same? I bet that’s a no. Have you ever pulled up to gas station and announced what you’re paying per gallon or request a discount because you’re filling up? Probably not. We shouldn’t treat our business like an episode of Let’s Make A Deal.
“Our prices are not negoitable and are dependent on the condition and behavior of your pet.”

  1. The client tells you what day they will be there and when they will drop off and pick up. The only person making policy and scheduling is you.

When I needed my stove repaired, I was given the next available day and time and my option was to take it or one further out that was more convenient for me. Didn’t matter that my stove was broke and I couldn’t use the oven until it was fixed. That was my problem to figure out, not the technicians.
“These are my available appointments. Would you like to book? We require a non-refundable deposit to hold this appointment. How would you like to pay?”

  1. They don’t know what they want or use vague terms they don’t understand what they mean. However, this can be an easily remedied problem with clear communication between you and the owner, as well as having the correct waivers and detailed signed terms of service. Never end a conversation with I’ll do my best. That client now assumes you will do as they asked. If this pet needs to shaved, I use the world naked. Set those boundaries and parameters of your business.
  2. Chasing payment. For me, this happens once. After that, credit card and authorization are kept on file within my payment portal. Let’s go back to that $100 dog. If you spend another 2 hours chasing payment, how much are you really making. (It’s $33 an hour) Or you could have groomed 2 more at $100 a pop.
  3. They inform you their pet is just playfully nippy. Or would only bite if you hurt them. Or outright tells you their pet is aggressive, but that’s your job. “Your pet may require a second groomer. It that’s the case, you will incur this fee. Sign here.” If it’s a $100 groom and you have to pay 2 groomers, one of which could be grooming their own $100 pet, that’s more like $50 an hour.
  4. You get a bad feeling. Trust your gut. Millions of years of evolution is not wrong. You do not have to groom every pet. As a mobile groomer, if I was already at someone’s home, I used the water pump is not working, I will call and reschedule. I guarantee they’ll know why you haven’t called them. Take your safety seriously. Make a show of turning the video on you phone. “You are making me uncomfortable. I will be recording our conversation from here on. My phone automatically uploads to my cloud-based storage.”

Experience is a great teacher, but it is all hindsight. Get in the practice of recognizing and weeding out red flaggers. Put your policies and protocols on your website. Have potential clients fill out and accept your terms of service before you even make that first appointment. There are almost 90 million dogs and 77 million cats in the US.

You do not have to groom every single pet that calls to make an appointment.

Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader.

You can contact Mary by dropping a message or email her at [email protected]