Hair Splinters

For The Love Of Grooming

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For The Love Of Grooming

There is a recurring theme in the grooming industry; pet stylists are passionate about what they do. Many say it is their calling. I personally know groomers who have been styling pets for twenty or thirty years - some even longer. It doesn’t matter if they have been bitten or scratched or had surgery for carpal tunnel. They keep going through the heartbreak of losing pet clients to the Rainbow Bridge, working long hours during the holidays, and dealing with winter weather. A lot of pet stylists can’t imagine doing anything else. It is in their blood.

I have to agree. I remember sitting down at a computer and googling “dog grooming”. I felt like I had been hit by a bolt of lightening. The talent and skill it took to do the job properly was obvious. I immediately recognized that I could have my own business and work with animals. I was fascinated by everything grooming, including the products and tools. Ten years later, nothing has changed. I still feel the same way. I am even more passionate about pet grooming.

I love the grooming process. Taking that dirty dog and making him/her cute, clean, and fluffy is my fun. Many of my compatriots agree. Nothing is more satisfying then taking the pup that just rolled in a mud puddle and … Poof! Out comes a furry best friend that has clean ears, trimmed nails, round feet, teddy bear face, bathed, clipped and scissored to canine perfection.

All of my cat grooming friends know the joy of freeing that pelted kitty from their matted turtle shell because many cat owners do not know their kitties need professional grooming. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the phrase, “I did not know cats need to be groomed,” as I looked at a cat, covered in dandruff. There will never be a substitute for washing hair with soap and water. That is another reason why I love my profession. We can help our clients by educating them on the importance of maintenance grooming, whether they own a dog or cat.  

Pet stylists fill some big shoes. We are the pet owners eyes and ears as we take their babies though the grooming process. Many groomers see their pet more often then the veterinarian. Some do a nose-to-tail health assessment. Groomers often lift the lips of the pet to look at the teeth and gums. They take a close look at the skin and coat during the drying process, often finding lumps and bumps, fleas and ticks, and other abnormalities. Cleaning the ears of every pet we see is always a priority. We make sure they are in tiptop shape, in addition to giving our friends a cute hairdo.

Groomers also notice changes in behavior, which can indicate a problem that the owners do not see. This often saves lives, as many times the owner is unaware of certain medical conditions that need attention. It is always heartwarming to hear a “thank you” from the pet owner as the dog or cat is whisked off to the veterinarian to have their needs taken care of, whether it be to have their teeth cleaned, a biopsy, or a change in medication or diet. There have been instances where this is the difference between life and death for the pet. Sometimes it is an easy fix, a change in food, weight loss, or implementing exercise into the pet’s lifestyle that can add years and optimum health to their lifespan. We can be the gentle nudge so the client takes action.

In addition to the health aspect and creative process, I find pet grooming to be very therapeutic. Studies show that when we gaze into the eyes of dogs, oxytocin is released, both in humans and canines. Maybe this is why pet grooming is so addicting. This is the hormone of love, nurture, mutual trust, and bonding. It is very similar to the parent/child relationship. I like to take a moment before I start grooming to connect with the pet on my table. A little scratch behind the ears, a few soft words and some eye contact and we are good to go! Oftentimes, this sets the tone for a successful grooming experience. There is no doubt there is a bond between humans and dogs, and because of this, pet stylists get to experience this phenomenon in the workplace.  We couldn’t be more lucky!

Pet grooming is not an ordinary job. It is important to love animals, have talent and skill, and have the patience of a saint. If you mind being wet, covered in dog or cat hair, this profession is not for you. But if it is, you have hit the jackpot!

I love being a pet groomer. You can do so much good in your own small part of the world and have an enjoyable, satisfying, life-changing career. Pet stylists make a difference. Chris Sertzel sees pet grooming much as I do. Chris says, “It is an invaluable opportunity to better the lives of animals and their families.” I could not agree more.


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. She is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays On Pet Grooming. For more information go to:

Copyright 2015 by Ellen Ehrlich



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