Starring South Coast Dog Grooming Academy
It seems SO long since I have last put a virtual pen to paper about my time training to be a dog groomer. Thanks to Covid-19 and its insistence in rampaging through Christmas, training stopped again in January as the UK entered the third lockdown… Like the rest of the nation, I was generally peeved about being at home in isolation again not being able to see my friends and family. However, I had to consider myself lucky that my family were not directly affected and totally understood that this lockdown was needed when you saw how bad the hospitals were having to deal with the rising cases. So my little gripes were swiftly put into perspective.
I decided with this winter lockdown to actually get things done particularly with my dog grooming business. On the list was sort a website, decide where to advertise, design artwork, finish the dog grooming room and generally get prepared for opening fully in April. This took many enjoyable hours as I love the buzz of setting up a business and lockdown gave me the luxury of time to sink my teeth into this list of jobs.
The Academy were brilliant in supporting us also through this enforced downtime and I know they were worried about our particular group who have done nothing but stop and start our training since last summer. We were given homework each week and this was great in keeping our dog grooming brains ticking over. I had forgotten what it was like to physically study and so had my little brain… However, there were small signs of intelligent life in my grey matter and it was good to keep it tested!
With the Covid figures gradually getting better each week and Boris giving us his freedom forecast, thankfully we had a date to look forward to in restarting training. So in mid March tooled up, I headed down with joy and glee to the Academy to start the end of my training. I had so many mixed feelings about going back. My inner critic was in overdrive as I hadn’t practised on hardly any dogs through lockdown and also sad that my training now was coming to an end. But I was also really excited about being a qualified dog groomer and starting my own business! It was fantastic to see my fab fellow trainees and the South Coast Dog Grooming Academy team. I had missed them. We just got straight back to it with a variety of dogs sorting out their wild lockdown locks. (I was just envious that they had the luxury of being pampered… my hair was starting to resemble the tortoiseshell cat look…) Being hands on with the dogs was brilliant and a confidence booster for us all. We actually can groom dogs!
The next few weeks were a mix of different breeds and temperaments as the SCDGA team prepared us to qualify and let us fly away from the Academy with all the skills to run our dog grooming business. I had a days hand stripping tuition with the lovely Nellie, a gorgeous wired haired Vizsla. I was prepared to find hand stripping physically tiresome but was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this type of groom. It is a much longer process and hard on your hands but I think for me it was the slower control in how you can make the dog look – if that makes sense? A wrong blade on a clipper can be disastrous but a few stray hairs in the wrong place hand stripping is not noticeable. It also gives a very natural but clean finish and I love that look particularly on working dogs. So this is something I am very happy to offer at Country Barn Dog Grooming.
My dog grooming salon was finally finished at the end of March after lots of gentle persuasion (ok nagging) in getting Mr H to sort the final touches. Wallpapering with my bargain tartan paper was a challenge as I was told on several occasions from Mr H that it was like wallpapering toilet roll… Thankfully I am pretty good at turning my hand to dealing with ripped lines in wallpaper but the decorating profession is one that I will give a miss.
With the salon good to go, this meant it was time to open. My last day was looming at the Academy and to say this was all feeling pretty daunting was an understatement. We had been taught and tested on everything we needed to groom dogs and start our businesses. With our end assessment, it was good to hear from Sarah about our positives, how we dealt with the challenges and the weaker aspects that I need to work on. But to hear at the end that I had qualified was a proud moment which I have no qualms about saying. I haven’t challenged myself in many many years and this has been such a brilliant experience. I can honestly say that if I can retrain at the grand old age of fifty, anybody can. So if you are reading this and thinking of making some changes in your life especially through your work, then just make that call or send the email and do it. Life is short and if you are having thoughts about you need to be doing something different, then your inner feeling is telling you something. So harness those thoughts and go for it!
I cannot thank the South Coast Dog Grooming Academy enough and I will miss my fellow trainees. We are planning a reunion and in further news, I am actually heading back to the Academy…. but to find out why you will have to wait until the next episode of Tails of the Unexpected Dog Groomer and to see how the weeks have been since opening my dog grooming salon too.
Until then – happy dog grooming!
by Samantha Hobden
Please visit for training information: South Coast Dog Grooming Academy