I wanted to let you know a little bit more about me. Its important you get to you know who I am!
I got the chance to leave my career in Human Resources in 2019. I had worked mainly in engineering throughout my life – oil and gas and shipbuilding predominantly. I worked in various roles – recruitment – both sales and in-house, graduate management, Employment Law. I liked it but I didn’t love it. My last position was with a financial institute and I just knew “this is it, I’ve come to the end of my career in HR”! You just know!
My husband, Mike and I were chilling with a beer in a pool in Dubai in December 2018, when we spoke about redundancy and what that might mean. And he encouraged me to take it! We then thought “and do what?”
I love animals – sometimes I think I love animals more than humans! I know some of you will relate! So we looked at a few options around dogs – kennels, doggie day care, walking, boarding and grooming. I research all the options. I really wanted to convert my garage into a mini luxury hotel for dogs but the council weren’t terribly supportive! I wanted to work on my own so grooming or walking seemed more natural. Grooming won!
After my 3 months training, I opened up The Laundromut. Again, I wasn’t sure I wanted to run my business from a shop and I definitely wanted to work for myself. I looked at converting my garage (I was determined to do something with the garage!) but it was going to cost a ridiculous amount of money. The prices we were getting quoted, it would’ve been cheaper to knock it down and start again! We then looked at lodges and that seemed ideal.
And so it all began. Why did I decide to go holistic and force-free? So, during my training, I was surprised at how I was told to handle the dogs, although we got very little training on this. I wasn’t allowed to show any affection or softness whilst the dogs were on the table (or off!) – I was in charge when the dogs were on the table. Ok, I understand (I think) – safety of the dogs etc. During training, there was about 4-6 students in the room at any one time and the same amount of dogs, if not more. It was noisy – barking, growling, snarling, hair dryers, blasters, showers, people shouting, music – even my anxiety levels were raised. I often drove home in tears thinking what have I done! I wasn’t enjoying it but put it down to being a complete career change and the unknown- I’m not good at change!
I attended a seminar later in the year where an amazing groomer was teaching how to groom poodle mix-breeds. It was amazing, I learnt so much and was super impressed! The one thing that bothered me and stayed with me was the fact that they said they would hit the dog if it didn’t behave. I’ll never forget that. I loved the seminar and learnt so much but that stayed with me. Yes, I guess the dogs will do what they are told if you hit them – although would I do what I was told if you hit me?!
I remember speaking to Mike about it. I kept thinking “shit, if this is grooming, I’m not sure I’m cut out for this”! I stared doing a bit research into handling, then Christmas came and its was crazy busy.
I had time to reflect when we went to Thailand in January. Being animal lovers, we always take the opportunity to do something with elephants when in Thailand – we have been 3 times. We went back to Phang Nga Elephant Sanctuary. What a place! When we first went last year, they asked if we wanted to go on the back of the elephant. I was adamant I wasn’t and said “that’s cruel”. Our guide explained to me that actually the weight of me on an elephant was equivalent to an empty tin of juice! They don’t use crates on the elephants back so we literally were both sitting on her back! We then got to bathe with the elephants and feed them. I was in heaven. In every picture, you should see my big cheesy grin! We spoke to the elephant trainers (Mahoots). Each elephant has their own trainer and it takes years for them to bond. I was looking at the Mahoots and how they treat the elephants – with such dignity and respect. No force whatsoever – it was all by command and a stick like thing that they use to “tap” their feet. The elephants clearly adore their Mahoot! The Sanctuary is very transparent and we got to see where the elephants rest, where the Mahoots live etc. I have no doubt elephants are well looked after.
I realised on holiday that handling the dogs makes me stressed. The whole idea of starting this was to be stress-free. I started looking at how to groom dogs without stress to them or me. I considered my training and the seminar I had been on. I did wonder though, if I’m stressed, the dogs must be stressed! Thats when I realised there is a different way to groom. I also met a groomer from Kilmarnock, Stephanie Zikmann who runs Scrub-A-Dug-Dug. We spoke for hours and I was very inspired and grateful to learn that it is possible to groom differently. I also re-read a book written by Sue Williamson – Taking the Grrr out of the Grooming Salon which further highlighted to me that there are options.
So what have I done? I have reduced the number of dogs I see per day – 3 or 4 at a max. I give myself 3 hours per groom. I now meet every new dog to me for a meet n treat session before grooming. I have studied and gained Silver Accreditation in Low Stress Handling. I have taken a holistic approach to dog grooming by using all natural products, essential oils, force free grooming techniques, as well as looking after me more!
It is different to the way commercial groomers, groom. But its a way that I am comfortable with and thoroughly enjoy. Dogs don’t want to be on the grooming table but if I can make it as pleasant as possible, then I’m happy. Dogs get frightened and anxious which makes them lash out – that fight or flight hormone kicks in. I’m happy to send a dog home that still has damp ears cause drying them caused them stress and I wouldn’t restrain them. Or the cut to be a bit “dodgy” cause the dog didn’t want to lift his leg and I wouldn’t force them. I’ll always ensure important areas are groomed and maintained but welfare comes first. Groomers are not governed by a body at present but we always abide by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. It states “humanity over vanity” – I can truly say I abide by that!
So that’s my story. I will continue on my journey. Did you know I was featured in two newspapers recently – The Falkirk Herald and The Scotsman – check me!
A few other things about me …
- Chocolate Chip Ice Cream is my fav!
- My husband served as a Royal Marine Commando
- I love lifting weights, the heavier the better
- My favourite colour is orange
- My favourite movie is Top Gun
- My favourite place in the world is Huntington Beach in California. If I go missing, I’ll be there, sitting at Dog Beach!
- We have no children – our choice not to
- We got married in NYC. My husband worked there and we spent the first 9 months of our relationship going back and forward to NYC!
- I was born and brought up in Edinburgh
- I went to a private all girls school – hated it!!
Oh, the garage, is now our home gym!