Cleaning up our furry friends

Claws, teeth and sharp tools make pet grooming a perilous business.Those who come expecting to play with puppies and kittens soon burnout, leaving a hardy few who love and understand animals.

Claws, teeth and sharp tools make pet grooming a perilous business. Those who come expecting to play with puppies and kittens soon burn out, leaving a hardy few who love and understand animals.

Jennifer Lowery opened Toronto’s Dog Days Grooming Salon in 2005.

“I always wanted to work with animals, but I didn’t necessarily want to be a groomer,” she says, adding with a laugh, “I do want to be one now!”

Grooming up to 16 dogs a day is hard, hectic and dangerous work. Some pups “object strongly when we have to do their ears and nails and brush their faces. It can be dangerous for both us and the dogs.”

Unruly dogs may need tranquilizers or even a full anesthetics before work can begin. “Those days are like extreme grooming,” Lowery laughs. “A lot of people don’t realize how hard the work is. I rarely go home without bleeding in some part of me.”

Lifting heavy dogs and working with difficult ones takes its toll and requires a stable, patient personality, and a high pain threshold. “I find moms are really good,” she says, crediting their previous experience in getting unhappy creatures into bathtubs.

Lisa Brookes is a cat whisperer. She and her husband live with 29 of them and she operates The Divine Feline, a cat-grooming service in Halifax.

Cats naturally self-groom, but they need help. “The long-haired, thick-coated cats — that’s not a natural situation. We’ve bred them that way, so they’re not naturally equipped with the tools to groom themselves,” Brookes explains. That can lead to matted or greasy fur and dandruff.

Brookes even offers the occasional stylish cut. “The most popular is the lion cut, where the cat’s hair is all removed, other than the head and a pom-pom on the end of the tail,” she explains. “Cats like the result, but they don’t always like the process.”

The basics of grooming are easy to learn; the trick is learning about cats.

“You can’t force a cat into anything. You need to negotiate with them,” she says.

Brookes never sedates cats, instead taking time to get to know them and paying attention to their behaviour for warning signs during grooming.

“It takes a pretty unusual individual (to groom cats). You really have to understand cats. That’s different than just loving cats.”

 
 
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