We Brits are known as a nation of dog lovers so it’s no surprise that dog grooming is big business – but have you ever wondered how they do it in other countries? Sue Zecco, owner of the Pampered Pet in Paxton, Massachusetts gives us a taste of grooming over the pond…

I began my grooming business in 1977, aged 19, just after graduating from a one-year animal care course. My business, The Pampered Pet, has undergone many changes over the years but I believe we have always stayed true to our slogan: “We have warm hearts for cold noses”. At first I did everything on my own (with a little help from my husband): grooming, bathing, office work, customer relations, retail, cleaning, pick up and delivery, but now I have a full staff of ten employees, plus my husband Ray and I.

A typical day at the Pampered Pet begins at 7.30am. Between then and 9am is the drop-off time for most clients. There are always exceptions to the rule though because our goal is to keep the dogs happy as well as being as accessible to our client as possible. We have a very large dry-erase board hanging in the front of the bathing area. As the dogs get checked in, their condition is evaluated, as well as the trim and any special requests by the owners. Each finish groomer, (five including myself) has a list of the dogs they will do for that day. The receptionist will designate the checkout times, giving the groomer time to get each dog done and the board is updated as the dog goes through the various stages of their groom. If a customer calls to check on the time of their pet’s release, the  receptionist can tell by a glance at the board what stage that dog is at.

With 12 people working in my shop, this board really allows for as smooth a day as can be predicted. We all know that a typical day in a grooming salon is not always predictable. Whether it be a dog that arrives matted and needs to be started, a pet that is new and not accepting of their first groom, a biter or very difficult dog to do. Honestly, all the things that can go wrong in a day are part of the reason I still love what I do – no two days are ever alike, always something different to deal with. Another thing I love is that there is always more to learn. Recently, I had a call from a new client with a Borzoi. Although she knows all the show secrets quite well, she has trouble executing proper grooming technique. With her guidance, I have now added another breed that I can groom for show and she has also referred me to a friend who breeds and shows Shetland sheepdogs.

My shop has moved locations three times over the years, our final location is a building that we have purchased, so we will not be moving again. We have expanded, added retail, do small-scale pet sitting, and training for groomers who are eager to learn more. We offer all types of grooming on dogs and cats. We specialize in scissor cuts, will dematt and do hand tripping, something ost shops in this area don’t do. Since we do very little advertising, word-of mouth is important, so always doing a great job is crucial to our business. I have been blessed to travel a lot with my work and one thing I have learned is no matter what country I am in, when I begin talking with other groomers about their shops, I find that we all have that same fresh dog, that same picky client, the same problems with employees… it is in a way comforting to know it’s not just me. I have also picked up some great tips to try at my shop that have worked well for others. Hopefully, I have done the same with this article.