Many animal lovers would love to have a career working with animals, but often have to settle for volunteering with them instead. Tina Lassley has the privilege of doing both. She’s a groomer with Driftwood Boarding and Wellness and a foster for Dolly’s Legacy Animal Rescue.
ALLISON: Why did you become a groomer?
TINA: Grooming had never been on my radar. After many life changes, I was kind of thrown in to bathing at Petco. Even then, I never planned on that really going anywhere but it fit.
ALLISON: What qualifies you to offer this service?
TINA: I took Petco’s “grooming school” apprenticeship and worked there several years as a full-time dog groomer. I’ve been grooming now for nine years. Along the way, I’ve joined many groups to get tips and critiques from some of the best groomers. Grooming allows me to give back while getting to do what I love.
ALLISON: What mistakes did you make when you first started?
TINA: I made many mistakes as a groomer. I used to leave faces too long or not cut nails short enough because it scared me. Learning to communicate with dog owners proved tough too. I often struggled with how to decipher their descriptions of how they wanted their dog groomed.
ALLISON: Tell me about a funny memory.
TINA: So many fun memories! Grooming is really a comedy of errors. One time a fellow groomer was grooming this giant beast of a dog on the grooming table. The groomer had the dog in a grooming loop and in a belly harness. She was grooming and we were all just talking and carrying on, not noticing that all this while the dog was chewing through her loop. Out of nowhere, the dog jumped off the table–still connected by her belly harness. The dog pulled the table over, knocked everything off the grooming cart, and took off. At some point, the dog turned and looked at us as if to say, “Are we done?”
ALLISON: Tell me about an embarrassing moment.
TINA: I was doing a nail trim on a wiener dog. This dog hated having his nails trimmed! The owner came to assist me and the dog pooped and released its glands everywhere. Not only did he just poop while I was trimming his nails, but pooped on my hand, down my pants, and even on the wall. It was horrifying! The owner apologized profusely, but what can you do? I finished making the ticket and then washed off. Getting bodily fluids on me is pretty common and now it doesn’t phase me much.
There’s also this regular that I groom. He humps my hand ever time! Not just a little but a lot! Add to this the fact that we groom in front of big windows visible to everyone. That’s super embarrassing!
ALLISON: Why do you think you’ve done well as a groomer?
TINA: At my first grooming job, I’d say my service expanded because of the rapport I built with the dogs and clients. I’ve taken supposed difficult or mean dogs and not struggled with them. I have a gentle touch and I think that shows. At my current grooming job, I’m in the process of building up my business. I believe the connection I develop with dogs is starting to show and people are realizing this is special…. I’d like to think so anyway!
ALLISON: What lessons have you learned about being a groomer?
TINA: Be patient with clients. Sometimes they can’t easily explain what it is they want. Be patient with the dogs too, because they can’t tell you when something hurts and so you have to be intuitive. They can tell when you’re stressed. Be firm when you know what the dog needs as opposed to what may be wanted. Humanity before vanity!
ALLISON: What advice would you give to potential groomers?
TINA: Be patient, always. Also, relax, don’t be too critical of yourself, and have fun. How many people get to play with dogs all day?
ALLISON: Sell my readers on why they should use your grooming services.
As a groomer, I pride myself on the care of dogs by handling them carefully or talking to them in a soothing voice. Doing whatever they need so they are the most comfortable, while allowing me to get the job done, is priority to me.
Other perks include: Geriatric dogs get a mat to stand on or they can lay down for their groom. Puppies get extra time for attention and playtime so they know they can trust me.
I want long-term clients whose dogs run in the door and jump in my lap and give me kisses. That’s what I strive for.
During certain holidays, I do special things for my regular clients. I made them home-made treats or little gifts. Last Christmas, I took pictures and made frames for them to hang on the tree.
From owning animals, to researching them and signing petitions for them, and now to being a groomer and foster, Tina Lassley is living her dream of caring for animals. You can read about Tina’s volunteer work for Dolly’s Legacy Animal Rescue at: Fostering to Save Lives. If you work with animals in the Lancaster area, whether as an employee or a volunteer, LAA Pet Talk would love to share your story.