Tracey McRae grew up with dogs.
As a child, she helped her mother, a dog breeder, with grooming duties.
“I’ve also worked in a vet hospital and had a lot of experience grooming and showing,” the Ottawa resident and dog owner said. “A large portion of my history is based around dogs.”
But it wasn’t until last fall that McRae discovered she had a passion for dog grooming.
She took the 24-hour Dog Grooming as a Career course at Algonquin College, learning about basic brushing, bathing, finish scissoring, and how to work with dogs of all breeds and ages.
The proper technique “makes a huge difference to the dog,” said McRae.
Dog Grooming as a Career is for anyone who wants to learn about the basics of pets and grooming, said Shannon Brownrigg, who co-ordinates the program at Algonquin College and, along with certified master groomer Lisa Day, developed the program.
The program gives them a taste of whether grooming is for them, said Brownrigg, a registered veterinary technician.
Grooming is a physically demanding job, she said.
“There’s a lot of standing and lifting,” she said. “It gives them a taste of what grooming is like before the big commitment.”
It makes sense, then, that the course is a prerequisite for the college’s Groomer Assistant Program, which launches in May.
The 287-hour program, which includes 100 placement hours, will give students a Groomer Assistant certificate — and the ability to walk onto a grooming team with enough knowledge to be a bather and brusher, said Brownrigg.
There is a huge demand for skilled groomers across the province, said Brownrigg.
“The popularity and increase of pets in the home increases the need for grooming,” she said. “The pet industry has grown in the last 10 years — it’s growing tremendously, even through economic challenges.”
Graduates find work in chain grooming facilities and smaller grooming salons, with breeders, doggie daycares and spas and even shelters, Brownrigg said.
McRae said she would recommend the introductory course to people who want to work with their own dogs or are considering grooming as a career.
She’s now hoping to be accepted into the groomer assistant program.
“I’m exploring the possibilities and enjoying myself,” she said. “It’s a hobby for now, but who knows where life is going to take you.”