Mourn & Celebrate

On Monday, November 14, 2016, our standard poodle Jesse passed away. He was seventeen days shy of turning fifteen years old.

Something had gone terribly wrong Thursday night, November 10th. When Jesse woke up Friday morning, he was not the same dog. His body had failed him. He stopped eating and drinking. His eyes were dazed. His legs were so weak he could barely stand on his own. Decisions needed be made, with his best interest at heart. I was 2,000 miles away.

What happened that night, we’ll never know. Jesse had been doing so well. A vet visit revealed he had gained three pounds. Our family was joyous. Not always the greatest eater, he was enjoying food more then ever. Miraculously, he’d eat a whole can of dog food and ask for more. My husband, my Mom, and I would just about stand on our heads and do a jig to encourage this dog to take one more bite.

Since we almost lost Jesse the same week in 2015, I prepared. I made a paw print in clay. I saved locks of his hair. I looked into house call veterinary services, in case of an emergency. I was planning to have the vet come to our home to help our boy cross the Rainbow Bridge. Our family knew his days were numbered. He was doted on 24/7/365. I took many pictures of Jesse not knowing what the future held.

What a great year it was. He was feeling pretty good for a guy his age and was up to his old antics. Paper was his thing. When he wasn’t being supervised, he’d troll my night table and tear up my business cards. Every so often he’d take a bite out of the toilet paper roll. When the opportunity presented itself, Jesse would try to steal paper towels right out of my Mother’s hand. He would stick his nose into my open pocketbook because he loved to eat money. Life was good.

Jesse spent his days at my Mom’s house. Her greatest joy was caring for him. Jesse was her faithful companion. She cooked him liver and steak and bought him roast beef at the neighborhood deli. Spoiling him was her goal. Only the best for Jesse. He had her wrapped around his little brown paw.

Catching on early in life, Jesse knew my Mom was a softie. He had many antics at her house that would never fly at home. Jesse didn’t like it when my mother talked on the phone. He’d let her know by barking, starting out with a small woof, then escalating, growing louder and louder. In our home, Jesse’s place was in his bed when we ate. At my Mom’s house, he would plant himself right next to her chair at the kitchen table and try to eat off her plate. Don’t tell me poodles aren’t smart!

At home, Jesse’s favorite place was sitting on the couch in the sunroom with my husband every evening. He knew all other furniture in the house was off-limits. As we cleaned up the evening meal, Jesse would stand in the sunroom doorway and proceed to give my husband the stink-eye. It did not take a rocket scientist to know that Jesse was letting his human Dad know that it was TV time. Off to the couch they went where he was the recipient of extra scratches and cuddles. This was their ritual.

Our family was realistic. We knew in our hearts that someday this chapter in our lives would come to an end. I got the dreaded phone call on Friday. I was scheduled to fly home and arrive Sunday night. Would he or could he wait for me? As long as he was not suffering or struggling in any way, my husband said, “See how it goes.” I wanted to say goodbye.

Those were very sad days. My heart was heavy. I cried. I thought of that brown poodle puppy we bought into our home in 2001. I called the vet and made an appointment to come to our home Monday. I was a blubbering mess on the phone. I choked up with tears. I could barely get a word out. It was hard to breathe.

Wait he did. Jesse slept on his beloved sunroom couch day and night, letting Doug know when he needed help to go out to potty. Our boy did not have one accident in the house, even on the day he died.

When I got home I rushed to his side. I was so thankful I could see him one more time. I wanted to give him permission to say goodbye and tell him how much he was loved. He knew that! On the couch, I sang to him. His eyes opened and he looked into my eyes. His face lit up. He heard me! He knew me! Tears streamed from my eyes. I did not leave his side.

Jesse’s last night was restful and peaceful. In the morning, Jesse let Doug know he wanted to go out. Doug picked him up and took him to the deck outside our kitchen. He managed to communicate that he wanted to go downstairs to the yard where he had spent hours playing Frisbee and running around the pool deck. I joined them. Jesse stood in the grass, feeling it beneath his feet, smelling the air one last time. He even took a few steps on his own. Time stood still in that moment. There are just no words …

The vet came at 2:00 pm. We were ready; my Mom, my husband, and I. Jesse went to sleep surrounded by the people who loved him. His body gave out but his heart kept beating. Our faithful family pet died of old age. It was a very spiritual experience. It was a blessing.

Doug and I got in the car and drove to the barn to visit my horse Nickers. When we got home and walked in the door, Jesse’s leashes were hanging on the hook. There was nobody to greet us at the top of the steps. The house was empty and quiet.

I went to work the next day. My saving grace was the doggies on my grooming table. There were moments where I found it hard to believe Jesse was really gone. He was a member of our family for fifteen years. It was hard to picture life without him.

After dinner I put my pajamas on and went straight to bed. I put the pillow over my head. I didn’t want to feel anything. I didn’t want to think about it. It was too painful. There was just a big brown hole of sadness where Jesse used to be. I missed him.

I took a lot of my feelings out on my husband, who didn’t seem to be too upset. After an unpleasant argument he said to me, “Look how lucky you were to have that dog in your life. He was the reason you discovered grooming. Because of him you were able to accomplish so much and do many things you never thought you could. He helped you grow as a person. Without him, you would not have the wonderful friends, both at home and online, that you enjoy today He inspired you to help pet stylists have successful businesses all over the world. Without him, you might not have a horse. He changed the course of your life in a big way.” That was so true!

Doug said, “I am not going to focus on the loss of our dog. He lived a very long life, longer then most standard poodles. We had an extra year with him. Our family loved him; he loved our family back. We’ll always have our memories of our lives with him. Now we have to let go and move on.”

My dear husband, always the voice of reason. I can’t promise I’ll never be sad. I can’t promise I won’t miss him. Instead, I’ll try to recall that naughty poodle puppy we brought home that was to be our loyal family friend that gave me my voice and created my love of words and storytelling. He made my world a bigger and better place. For that I will always be grateful. He will always be my King Of The Hill. This will be his legacy.


Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers. Ellen is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays On Pet Grooming. For more information go to:

Everything You Need To Know About the Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund



What is GEAF?

Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund is the brainchild of pet stylist Ileana Nogueras. When there was an emergency or disaster, Ileana noticed how difficult it was to help fellow groomers. Who should be trusted? Where should help and supplies be directed? Scammers took advantage of sad situations. Ileana knew there had to be a better way. Efforts needed to be structured, efficient, and organized.

When Hurricane Sandy occurred in 2012 Ileana reached a turning point. Everyone was aware of the devastation. The economic loss to businesses was up to $30 billion dollars. She knew something needed to be done.

Ileana reached out to her friends in the grooming industry — Ellen Ehrlich, Daryl Conner, Judi Cantu Thacker, Dawn Omboy, and Mary Oquendo. She shared her ideas and plans for an organization to help groomers in need. Everyone jumped on board. They saw the need. They wanted to help. The Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund was born. The group has grown to include Jennifer Walker, Milena Bermudez, and Jameson Kon.

The Groomer’s Emergency Assistance Fund (GEAF) is an advocate for professional pet groomers in the United States affected by unforeseen illness or tragedy. They provide outside resources for assistance (, when needed and help qualified applicants financially. GEAF is a 501c(3) Corporation registered non-profit with the IRS. Currently, they assist groomers only in the United States. They operate with full transparency.

How to apply?

Fill out the application. It can be filled out online or printed and mailed.

When an application is submitted, it is posted on the GEAF Admin social network page and discussed by the members. All applications are fully vetted. We look at insurance claims, local newscasts, police reports, and onsite visits, and other factors before making a group decision.

Groomers want to know where to send help. We recently heard from Devon Carpenter. She was sorting through her tools and reached out, “Where can I send donations?” We replied, “Don’t wait.” Send us the grooming goodies you no longer need, use, or want so the Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund is prepared. Let us know the fair value of what you are sending. We are happy to send you a receipt for your taxes.

How to help:

1. Make a direct donation to Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund through paypal. [email protected].

2. Purchase a t-shirt at a grooming convention and wear it. Our vendors carry them at the shows. Your support will encourage others to support the Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund. Perhaps they will purchase a t-shirt. If you don’t see them, ask.

3. Groom a dog or cat once a month and donate the groom fee to GEAF.

4. Look for donation jars are at the grooming shows. No donation is too small.

5. Attend and participate at our fundraisers. The Internet Social at Hershey Groom Expo is a biggy! Plan ahead and join us for the Thursday night raffle, complete with snacks and a cash bar. We give away clippers, shampoos, tools, bows, books, shears, and more donated by our generous vendors. It’s an evening to meet up with old friends and make new friends. Win prizes and have fun while you support the Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund.

6. Contribute. Blades, shears, and tools are sharpened and refurbished. Send them to: Frank Rowe & Sons, 26 South Union Street, Middletown, PA 17057. GEAF uses the items to create tool kits for groomers in need. Recently two tool kits, worth $387.56, were delivered to two Louisiana groomers, whose salons were damaged in the flood.

7. Donate to our Silent Auction. Peruse local and online stores for sales and bargains for quality pet products. Send it to us or bring it to participating shows. If you are attending a show and find we are running a Silent Auction and want to donate, you can purchase items from the show vendors. Contact us by Facebook private message and we will gladly meet you and accept your donation.

8. Organize a dog wash, groomathon, or a fundraiser of your choice. Call your grooming buddies and organize. Perhaps there is a pet stylist in your neck of the woods that could use some assistance. Reach out to them. Pay it forward.

 9. Support our vendors — both at the shows, and online. If you support them, you are supporting the Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund.

Stay tuned!

Top pet stylists in our profession have graciously donated their time and talent to create short videos, “Tips from the Pros.” They share the tips and tricks they use in their everyday grooming.  Attend classes sponsored by GEAF — TBA. Wine & Paint, Coloring with Dawn Omboy, and Needle Felting with Ellen Ehrlich are on the horizon.

Breaking News!

Our second nomination in the grooming industry resulted in a Barkleigh Award for “Contribution To The Industry.” Thank you for the support. The Groomers Emergency Assistance Fund is committed, honored, and proud of this recognition and is dedicated to continue earning it. Ileana states, “Our mission is to help our fellow groomers when disaster strikes. When our industry stands together, everyone wins.”

Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers. Ellen is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays On Pet Grooming. For more information go to:

Job Security In The Grooming Industry

The other day I was joyfully posting on Facebook, feeling very positive about my business and career. I’d just had a conversation with a client. She had worked for a large well-known company for 33 years and had just been laid off with one month’s severance. Now she was scrambling to find a job.

All I could think was --- Thank you pet grooming!

I believe you can have job security in pet grooming. Our job can never be outsourced overseas or computerized. Pets will always need grooming.

We can take our business and our skills anywhere we go. We can be our own boss and build loyal, caring clientele whether we are shop, home, house call or mobile.

Even the economy agrees. The pet industry is booming and grows bigger every year. It has seen steady growth from $20 billion in total U.S. sales in 1995 to over $60 billion in 2015. It is estimated that 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats are owned in the United States.

Approximately 42% of all households in the United States have a dog, and 33% have a cat. Many require grooming. As the economy improves and people have extra money in their pockets, more people will own pets. This translates into more business for groomers.

In terms of success, Michele Peterson feels mobile pet groomers have defied statistics. She read an article in the Washington Post that stated many small businesses struggle and a majority fail within the first five years. However the mobile pet grooming industry continues to grow and flourish.

Mobile pet groomers turn business away. There is that much opportunity and demand. They expand; purchase another vehicle or trailer and hire employees. Often, when a mobile client moves to a new area, they cannot find a new mobile stylist to take their place. On social media I see many mobile stylists, men and women, every age and locale, including rural that have thriving, successful mobile grooming businesses.

Why have pet stylists become so successful? They are passionate. They love what they do! They are smarter, more skilled, business savvy, and more creative than ever before. Groomers I know have a calling and have lifelong careers in the grooming industry. I know when I started grooming; my “switch” went on everyday. I know the joy and enthusiasm that I felt about grooming was as clear to the clients and pets, as it was to me.

Pet salons are in the same situation. Many are expanding by moving to a larger facility, hiring more groomers, more bathers, adding creative services, Asian styling, and adding mobile services. “Cat’s only” brick and mortar salons are on the rise. You see more and more mobile grooming units on the road that cater strictly to felines. The sky’s the limit when talking cat grooming.

Groomers are even creating their own niche in the pet industry. Randi Sands specializes in Coat Carving and teaches it to others. Sheryl Woods is a holistic cat groomer. She recommends, “Specialize in a niche market and strive to be the best in it.”

What are the secrets to job security in the grooming industry?

  1. Let the passion you feel about your business shine through. Your clients and pets will feel the dedication. Be 100% committed to what you do everyday. When I wasn’t grooming, I was still thinking about it. I know other pet stylists who are just like me.
  1. Take a sincere interest in each client and pet, with a focus on customer service. Tina Marie Degati talks to every customer about their pet’s personality and grooming experience. “It’s the little things that become big for the client.” Eve Gestl states, “Take the time it takes to build relationships with your clients that establish trust.” I let my customers know they are special and appreciated.
  1. Customize your business to fit YOU. Teri DiMarino sold her salon sixteen years ago and now has a private salon in her home with grooming “by invitation only.” She has less than forty clients and loves it. Groomers work part time, full time, Saturdays, evenings, for themselves, or others. This wide variety of business models contribute to a longer lifespan in the grooming industry. Rhonda Landolfi works six half days a week, so she can ride her horse every afternoon
  1. Network! Build relationships with fellow groomers. Many will send overflow clients your way and help you build your business. Groomers have reciprocal relationships with others and are happy to refer. Groomers may specialize in big dogs, hand scissoring, elderly pets, or cats. It is always a good feeling to see a match between groomer, client, and pet.
  1. Use social media to its greatest advantage. Being online gives Tanya Diekman the ability to share ideas and communicate with thousands of pet stylists throughout world. This contributes to an easy accessible learning environment where groomers share information on every topic under the sun.
  1. Let continuing education be your mantra. Don’t stop learning. Be involved in one grooming convention a year, take seminars, visit social media grooming groups, get certified, watch videos, webinars, you tubes, ask questions, read books, listen to podcasts. Interact with other groomers on Instagram and Twitter. Stay on top of breakaway new talent in the industry and latest trends, including holistic dog and cat grooming. Find out what is happening in your state, in respect to licensing.

Take advantage of all that is available in our industry. Use it to be a pet stylist that is so good that your services are always in demand. These groomers look at the big picture of their business and see the sun shine. This is how you plant the seeds for job security in the pet industry. Devote the time, energy, and love it takes to do it right. Your appointment book will be full and your phone will always be ringing.

Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers. Ellen is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays On Pet Grooming. For more information go to:

Puppy Power Grooming Tips

I love grooming puppies, but they can present a real challenge for a pet stylist. Since grooming is a new experience for a puppy, it can be hair-raising. Puppies want to play and investigate. Everything is fun and games. They would like to jitterbug on your table and nip at your sharp shears or nuzzle your clippers while you’re working.

It’s up to the pet stylist to get that bundle of energy to cooperate for combing, brushing, nail clipping, ear cleaning, bathing, drying, and trimming. I often wish I had a magic wand to wave over the fuzzy friend on my table.

“If you, my precious puppy, would sit like a statue you could make this groomer very, very happy. We could get the job done lickety-split and you would be back in your Mommy’s arms before you know it; safe, sound, happy, smelling like roses, and looking like an angel!”

Pet groomers dig deep into their bag of tricks when they see a puppy in their appointment books.

Starting out on the right paw is key for a puppy. It’s always a good idea to factor in additional time for the first grooming appointment as plenty of cuddles, kisses, and breaks are in order. Consider booking the puppy for the last appointment of the day. Carol Backa states, “When I am not feeling rushed I enjoy grooming puppies. This gives me the opportunity to gain their trust while introducing new things.”

Felicia Moran says, “Puppies and kittens take their cues from us. It is important to stay calm, use a calming voice, and praise to shape the behavior that you want. Stick with a routine so the pet learns quickly what to expect. Rewarding with favorite treats in tiny amounts can help associate the process with a positive experience.”

Every groomer has his or her own strategies when grooming a puppy.

Andrea Marie Piquet always bathes puppies by placing the water nozzle directly on the skin, thus reducing the sound of running water. If the puppy still objects, keep a pitcher of warm water within reach for wetting and rinsing the pet.

“It’s a good idea to give the puppy an opportunity to become accustomed to grooming tools,” shares Elizabeth Oram.

Let the puppy sniff the trimmer or clipper while they’re on. Run them over the pads and around the body so the puppy gets used to the vibration. Put the dryer on low and let it in run in the background so the puppy gets used to noises and sounds during grooming.

Trimming around the eyes can be a challenge. Dana Lamonica gently taps or rubs the nose. Groomers have been known to blow air, whistle, sing, and even dance as they groom a puppy. Every situation calls for creative measures. Make it fun! If the pup is excited or nervous, it might be best to wait until the end of the grooming session for certain tasks when the puppy is tired. A sleepy puppy may be more cooperative. Always take your cues from the pet on your table.

Is the puppy a fan of nail trims? If not, try it when Miss Fuzzy Face is in the tub. Puppies can be dried in your lap, wrapped in a towel, and cuddled in your arms. Dry the head without a nozzle, placing the hose under your arm gently massaging the face. These techniques can create enough distraction to complete the task.

Many pet stylists divide puppy’s first groom into two appointments to help them acclimate to the grooming process.

Sandy Hanrahan has had 25 years of pet grooming experience under her belt and has groomed many puppies. She explains to the owner the first groom has to be a positive experience and may not result in the best haircut/groom. The focus is on a great bath and a happy puppy.

It’s a love fest for Michelle Robinson. She plays with her puppies and blows kisses. Michelle shares, “The last thing they remember is the treat I gave them as we step out of the van. They next time I visit they will know who I am. They know we are going to have fun.”

Bring Mom and Dad on board to help foster positive grooming. This is the time to create a teamwork customer, especially if this is their first pet that needs professional grooming. Make sure they have a grooming routine, the proper tools, and understand how to use them. Encourage handling from nose to tail, as this can translate into a pet that is more cooperative when they visit the grooming salon or the mobile stylist comes calling.

Let the pet parents know grooming is not just about looking good. It is about keeping their furry friend healthy. It can even help save on veterinary bills for Mom and Dad. Grooming gives them the opportunity to check their pet for abnormalities so they can be treated right away before they become more serious.

Looking good and feeling good inspires happiness for both owner and pet. Nothing is more satisfying for a pet stylist or pet parent than to see their baby prancing around, feeling like a king/queen, tail wagging, glad to visit their pet stylist. My goal is a happy furry four-legged camper on my table. May it be the beginning of a grooming relationship that lasts a lifetime!

*Article courtesy of Groomer To Groomer magazine June 2016

Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be their best. Ellen is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays On Pet Grooming. For more information go to:

An Important Thing To Bring To A Grooming Show

I’m pondering my last grooming show. As usual, it was a busy day. The vendors were buzzing and the competition ring was full. This was a real shopping trip for me. I bought everything I needed. I also replaced and upgraded my clippers and had my shears sharpened.

The night before the show I looked at my shopping list and realized that I would be doing a lot of walking. Everything I bought would have to be carried. I wasn’t looking forward to this. I recalled that I had a small cart in the attic. I brought it with me.


It sure came in handy. I enabled me to put everything I purchased into the cart. I didn’t have any shopping bags on my shoulder as I walked up and down every aisle. I didn’t have to carry that heavy gallon of shampoo.

This show was in a convention center. It was a long walk from the garage parking lot and up a flight of stairs to the front door. It was a rainy, windy weekend. Having the cart saved a lot of steps. I didn’t have to take an extra trip back to the car. All my purchases went right into the cart and off I strolled.

Think ergonomics. Thinking ergonomically provides your body with optimum comfort. This can help you avoid aggravating an existing injury and cuts down on stress. Since many groomers have work related issues concerning their neck, back, shoulders, elbows, and wrists, it makes a lot of sense to bring a cart to a grooming convention. My back thanked me all day long, because it was much easier to push and pull my cart than to carry. Happy and healthy shopping!

Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be their best. Ellen is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays On Pet Grooming. For more information go to:

A New Concept In Competition Grooming — The Groomolympics

                                                               GroomolympicsWelcome to the first pet grooming competition — The 2016 New England Groomolympics! Are you ready to have some fun? This pet grooming competition is all about embracing the pet trim. The rules are: any breed, any style, with an hour to complete the groom. Participants are not grooming to breed standard so don’t be shy!

This event is the brainchild of Katie Heikkila of KT’s Pet Care from Mason, New Hampshire. She had an idea when watching competitive grooming at a trade show. Katie thought that the everyday pet groomer should be celebrated, recognized, and rewarded.

She pitched this idea to Dara Forleo, owner of The Whole Pet Grooming Academy in Peterborough, New Hampshire, who immediately got on board. The first Groomolympics was born.

To enter:

Groomolympics will be accepting applications from any pet groomer living and working in any New England state. (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island)

The entry fee is $55.00 with $5.00 going to a groomer relief fund for New England groomers.

Entries must include photos of two groomed pets front and side, which will be judged by a panel of three New England groomers. Six contestants will be chosen from each state to move on to semi-finals.

The semi-finals will be a live competition held at The Whole Pet Grooming Academy in which gold, silver, and bronze placements will be awarded.

Semi-final Dates:

Sunday, September 11th: Vermont — 10:00am, New Hampshire — 1:00pm, Maine — 3:00pm.

Sunday, September 18th: Massachusetts — 10:00am, Connecticut —1:00pm, Rhode Island — 3:00pm.

The gold medalist from each state will advance to compete for Best Pet Groomer in New England.

Final Competition: Sunday October 2nd — 1:00pm


Initial judging: Andrea Bancroft, Katie Heikkila, and Dara Forleo

Semi-finals: Mary Seymour, Renee Pierre, and Bambi Heywood

Final judging: Ellen Ehrlich

The Best Pet Groomer in New England will be honored on October 15th at 6:30 pm at a special cocktail party hosted by KT’s Pet Care, The Whole Pet Grooming Academy, and Groomer’s Choice at Sturbridge Conference Center in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.

Entries accepted until July 1st, 2016.

Participating in the Olympics is a way to celebrate all the wonderful pet grooming that happens in New England. I’m very excited and honored to be a part of it. This is an opportunity to learn, make friends, be creative, show your skills, and create a new goal in your grooming career. Who knows! Next stop could be a trophy at Groom Expo.

For more information check out the Facebook page New England Groomolympics.

Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be their best. Ellen is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays On Pet Grooming. For more information go to:


The Importance Of Eating Lunch — Groomer To Groomer Magazine — May 2016



“I skip lunch” is a comment I’ve heard repeated over and over in the grooming industry. I’m sad to report that pet stylists do skip lunch. Many make unhealthy choices, don’t eat lunch, eat on the fly, or pick up take-out or fast food.

One thing is a given is that groomers need to take better care of themselves. Susan Sarris states, “Our eating habits are terrible.” I agree.

Why do groomers skip lunch?

The day in the life of a pet stylist is busy. As soon as that first pup walks through the front door, the fun begins and never ends. Lunch is an easy meal to miss because the afternoon in a grooming business can be the busiest time of day, especially during the holidays. Some groomers work through lunch in order to save time and avoid working late; however in reality it rarely works out that way.

Besides the lack of time, groomers skip lunch to lose weight or cut calories. This is not usually a good idea. This can increase your appetite or cause you to overeat and/or make poor food choices. Eating lunch can help you break the habit of eating anything you can get your hands on, as you stand at your open refrigerator, or grab something fast on the way home. It can take some of the enjoyment out of eating. Not eating properly can result in feeling poorly afterwards, and having regrets about what you did consume.

Groomers expend an enormous amount of energy when they work. In order to replenish the energy, the body requires fuel. This is supplied by the foods we eat. A healthy lunch should include vitamins, minerals, and fat and the five main food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, proteins, and dairy. Eating lunch is good for your metabolism and helps you power through the day. This is essential to one’s productivity and health.

In some countries, lunch is the most important meal of the day because this is when activity is highest. Eating a few hours after breakfast re-energizes our body and can raise blood sugar when focus and concentration are most important. This helps us avoid an afternoon crash. If you’re feeling sluggish, eating even a small lunch or snack can renew your energy and help you feel refreshed and ready to take on the next several hours.

Lunch is not just about putting food in your mouth. There is a social aspect to consider. Lunch can be about stepping away from the action of a busy grooming business and sitting down, perhaps with a co-worker. You can make friends when you eat lunch. If you’re a mobile pet stylist like I am, you can eat lunch parked under a shady tree.

I’ve been making my lunch everyday since I started grooming in 2005. I come from a family of lunch makers and lunch eaters. My style is a bit different then sitting down and eating at a table. I don’t eat a traditional lunch. The key to my lunch is my lunch bag.

I have found that packing and eating small portions throughout the day works best for me. Lunch is my favorite meal because I can spread it out over a few hours. Taking small meal breaks frequently is key in keeping the brain as active as possible and helps avoid the build-up of stress. This can be as simple as eating a piece of fruit or a serving of almonds.

Following a diet of eating several small meals a day can help maintain healthy weight and eliminates weight fluctuation.  This kind of diet also promotes portion control and can boost metabolism. Those who follow this plan say they feel more satisfied at the end of the day.

Let’s crunch some numbers. If I ate out three days a week at $10.00 per meal, this adds up to $30.00 per week, $120.00 per month, $1,440 per year. I’d rather spend that money on new tools or products for my business, or even better, attend a grooming convention, or take a vacation.

Two misconceptions about lunch.

  1. Making lunch is time consuming
  2. Making lunch is inconvenient.

It’s not. It just takes one trip to the grocery store per week to make the smartest and healthiest choices. Shop the perimeter with a list; this is where the healthiest foods are located and will prevent any impulse buys.

It is widely known that taking time for a healthy lunch pays off mentally and physically. If you skip that midday meal it can alter your mood, energy level, and temperament for the rest of the day. I look forward to my lunch because I like to plan what I like to eat. Make eating lunch a priority. There are so many benefits. It’s a great feeling to feel good about what you eat.

Some suggestions:

Peanut Butter


Crackers/Pretzels/Bread (high fiber, whole wheat)


Granola Bars/Granola/ /Sports Bars

Dried Fruit

Sunflower Seeds

Rice Cakes

V8 juice (low sodium)

Beef jerky, Chicken Jerky


VitaTops  (

Single serving covered almonds

100 calorie snacks

Instant Oatmeal Packs


Tuna/pasta/salmon in a can in water

Ready to eat salad

Deli meats — Turkey, Ham

Hard Boiled Eggs



Laughing Cow Cheese Triangles (comes in low fat)

Cheese sticks


Baby carrots

Eat lunch … enjoy life!

Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be the best they can be. Ellen is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays On Pet Grooming. For more informatio go to

Why Can't Our Pets Live Forever

When I stare into the cloudy eyes of my elderly poodle Jesse, I often wonder—why can’t our pets live forever? This old timer no longer hears the garage door open or his name being called. He sleeps more, eats less, and moves slower. His chocolate brown coat has thinned and is sprinkled with white. At fourteen, Jesse is a senior citizen.


I worry when I think about the future. Many owners of geriatric pets do. I can’t imagine life without Jesse and yet I know I must face reality. The sad fact is we outlive our pets. It doesn’t matter how long they have been a part of our family and our lives. Love and bonding does not have a time frame set in stone.

Jesse recently had a health scare that forced our family to discuss the inevitable, trying to come to grips with what the future holds for our elderly pet. Just thinking about life without our dog makes my heart skip a beat. He changed my life.

This is what pets do; they are a source of comfort, friendship, inspiration, and unconditional love. It’s not “just a dog” or “just a cat”, by any means. Losing a beloved pet is losing a treasured family member and something every owner must face.

Many people go through the grieving process when they lose a pet. The process is similar to losing a family member or friend. It occurs in stages: denial, anger, guilt, depression, acceptance, and resolution.

Grief depends on the role the pet played in your life. Perhaps it was your childhood pet or a rescue situation. If it was a working dog, that person might not only be grieving the loss of a best friend, but also the loss of independence. For many that live alone, including seniors, their pet was a source of companionship. If you cared for your pet through a protracted illness, you likely grew to love him/her even more.

As I thought about the grieving process, I asked this question on the Facebook group Grooming Smarter “How has losing a beloved pet affected you?”

Losing her own dog resulted in Christa Kanellis becoming a groomer. She used every bit of love she felt for the dog she lost and put it towards other people’s dogs. Heidi Bulmer said, “My whole routine changed when I lost my dog at seventeen. Now, when I groom the senior dogs, I am more delicate and compassionate. I am more patient with their owners.”

Here are some suggestions if you have lost a pet:

  1. Try to find new meaning and joy in your own life.
  2. Stay connected with friends.
  3. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel.
  4. Reach out to others who have lost pets.
  5. Take care of yourself, emotionally and physically.
  6. Maintain your normal routine, especially if you have other pets.
  7. Create a legacy.
  8. Seek professional help if you need it.

You are not alone. Find fellow animal lovers, family members, and friends that understand what you are going through. Ask your veterinarian or local shelter if they can recommend a local pet loss counselor or support group. There are message boards, chat rooms, pet loss hotlines, and pet loss Bereavement Support Groups on the Internet. Reach out.

There is a special book called For Every Dog An Angel, by Christine Davis. Christine loses her forever dog, Martha, unexpectedly. When Christine wrote her story, she found peace knowing Martha was happy and watching over her. She began healing. Martha let Christine know it’s okay to find another dog to share the love she has to offer.

There is no timetable for mourning a loss. A bereaved owner knows no other creature will replace the pet they lost. However, when the time is right, the warm eyes of a new four-legged friend may capture a heart again. 

Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, she loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be the best they can be. Ellen is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays on Pet Grooming. For more information, go

Charging Hourly

One of the biggest challenges in running a grooming business is giving a phone estimate. Even though the customer was interviewed about the previous groom, breed, weight, coat condition, health, and temperament of the pet, it’s still difficult. Answers can be open to interpretation. There are unknowns. Does Miss Kitty like her face washed? Is Fluffy matted? Is Coco cooperative for nail trims?

Some pet owners do not know the answers to our questions. They have been brushing their pet but not doing it effectively or using the proper tools. They may be taking a wild guess on what the pet weighs. Mom and Dad can be unaware Rover is crabby at the salon because the previous groomer withheld this information, afraid they might not bring the dog back. Some owners do not realize the dog or cat has health issues, fleas, ticks, skin problems, ear issues, etc. I have come across pet owners who stretch the truth when making a grooming appointment, even fib.

I was unpleasantly surprised back in the early days of my mobile grooming business when I knocked on the front door of a new customer. Here I was, expecting a friendly border collie around forty pounds, when I gazed upon a molting German Shepard mix that was an easy sixty pounds plus. When I brought him into the grooming van he growled.

I realized he would require two baths, two desheds, and additional handling. A pet of this size and temperament could add thirty minutes to an hour. The estimate I gave the new client flew out the window. I didn’t ask enough questions. I underestimated.

From my experience, a large percentage of the dog’s I see for the first time are overdue for professional grooming. The result is more labor and cleanup; more hair to wash, dry, brush, comb, demat, deshed, clip, and scissor. To make grooming a positive and safe one, this process cannot be rushed. The pet may need additional time if they have health or behavior issues. The groomer may have to factor in more time if the pet goes “potty” and requires another round of bathing and drying. Judi Stratton agrees,” Usually the first appointment takes the longest just to learn the personality of the pet and do the job correctly.”

Charging by the hour is gaining momentum in the grooming industry. I’m all in favor. Charging hourly ensures the pet stylist will be paid fairly for their work, whether it is a first time client, a pet overdue for grooming, a pet with issues, or a specialized trim. Many times pet stylists are underpaid for their hard work by giving a price or range.

What do we say when a client with a new or overdue pet asks the familiar question, “How much?” A good place to start is giving a price based on a similar pet and trim groomed at your hourly rate on a maintenance schedule. Don’t give a range. You could be shooting yourself in the foot. Be careful —don’t fall into the Breed Trap when giving an estimate. All breeds are not created equal. The photo of the two shih tzu’s side by side is the classic example of why charging by the breed does not work out financially for the pet stylist.


Saul Henebery from K9 King Dog Grooming spent two hours grooming this rough collie. Saul stated, “I see this dog a few times a year. If I saw him regularly, it would take half the time.” This is why charging hourly is so important. A pet that is not groomed on a maintenance schedule takes more time then a pet that is groomed every six weeks or less.

ChargingHourlySoulman Henebery‎1     ChargingHourlySoulman Henebery‎

Every pet owner has the right and should ask for an estimate when making a grooming appointment. That being said, the pet groomer does not have a crystal ball. They do not know how long the groom is going to take, especially for large, coated dogs. They can only make an educated guess. Let your customers know that after grooming, if they keep the pet on a maintenance schedule the groom fee will be less. Everyone wins! Let this be your Mantra — Charge Hourly.

Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be their best. Ellen is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays On Pet Grooming. For more information go to:

Talking Mobile Pet Grooming To Career Seekers


Thinking about going to grooming school or becoming a mobile pet groomer? Maybe you have seen a grooming truck or trailer in your neighborhood, perhaps on your street. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to bring your own grooming shop right to Scruffy’s front door? 

Are you considering a grooming career or are currently a shop, home, or house call groomer, itching to make a lifestyle change? My “go mobile” story started with a standard poodle puppy and a dream. That was ten years ago and today I am a successful mobile groomer.

If I can do it, you can too!

Mobile pet grooming is more than a job… it’s a passion. It’s a wonderful combination of people and pet skills, entrepreneurial spirit, and a creative outlet. It’s opened a door to new friends, exciting challenges, and financial success. It gave me the opportunity to write, speak, motivate, and excite others about the mobile grooming business.

Have I mentioned the FUN you can have?  Pet grooming is a people business and people who groom like to have fun and support each other. The common bond among groomers is incredible. Many read my blogs, books, and articles, contact me, ask questions, and best of all, we have fun being groomers together. I want everyone I meet to go mobile and succeed!

The grooming conventions are simply the greatest. They are like mini vacations where watching the competitive grooming combines the excitement of a live sporting event and the creative thrill of a fashion show all rolled into one. And talk about meeting people?

Celebrities and icons in the industry, manufacturers, suppliers, vendors, authors, trendsetters, and thousands of talented groomers gather together. There is something for everyone at every convention from the brand new, never done it before newbie, to the top ranked master groomer who can turn Scruffy into Cleopatra. Nothing beats a grooming convention to experience, up close and personal, the entire universe of the pet industry. It’s a chance to see and participate, ask questions, learn, meet people, and get inspired. 

Mobile groomers offer a service that is in demand. It’s a rapidly growing industry filling a real need where opportunity is in every driveway. You set your hours, your prices, decide what services you want to offer, what tools and products you use, and exactly where and when you want to work. Be your own boss, work in your own environment, expand, contract, own, not rent, your own van or trailer, mobile groomers are in control and can do very well in any economic climate. The flexibility and financial rewards are tremendous. There is still so much opportunity especially if you are willing to groom cats and big dogs.

With the right skills, understanding your location, and learning how to run the business properly from the start your phone will ring off the hook! I’m so busy right now I could buy another van and hire an employee.

When I wrote GO MOBILE AND SUCCEED I spent a year of my life writing down everything I needed to know from soup to nuts to start, grow, and run a mobile grooming business. The book is the story of my journey into the pet care industry. A workbook of sorts that details the step-by-step process I went through, highlighting the entire adventure on the road to success.

Take it from me – I went to grooming school when I was fifty years old. I am living proof that it is never to late to take the plunge, reinvent yourself, change your world, learn another skill, start a business, and chart your life in a wonderful, exciting, new direction. 

Graphics courtesy of Milena Bermudez —DMK Marketing Solutions

Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire groomers. For more information go to: