Dog Day in the Life of...

The Groomer

A Day at the Salon

According to Jacqui, the owner of Gentle Grooming, it was a relatively quiet morning during our recent visit to her boutique/pet salon.

Aside from the intermittent noise from battery-operated shavers, bath water running, the high velocity dryer working, only L, a “high-spirited” Yorkshire terrier, was barking. As Chelsea washed and dried, Julia and JaThe Groomercqui clipped and pampered their guests in the spacious, airy, clean and bright environment. The other six or seven dogs rested quietly in their crates or stood regally on the grooming table, calm and secure.

A dog groomer for over 13 years, Jacqui’s passion is evident. Of the over 600 clients seen at Gentle Grooming, only one has required a muzzle due, in part, to a traumatic incident at the hands of a former groomer. ¬†Massage is used to calm clients and inspire trust as is the maintenance of a low-key, naturally calming environment.

These dogs are pampered and spoiled. Out of the corner of my eye I witnessed one repeat client-a Golden Retriever-voluntarily clamber up the stairs to an awaiting bath! (Chase would be headed for the car.)

Nails are sanded with a Dremel rotary tool-forget the trauma of nail clipping! Cage driers are not used due to the risk of suffocation or burns. Instead, the dogs are towel-dried, dried under a high-velocity dryer, and then fan-dried. Furry knots are deftly shaved (not scissored) off. Jacqui tries to use all natural products and match shampoo types to skin types. I would not recognize Lady after a visit to this boutique!

But here’s a frightening reality: here in South Carolina one needs only to have a business license in order to be a dog groomer. No certification or mandatory training or health inspection is required to practice the art. Animal control has no oversight.

So be careful where you take Fifi for her monthly cut. As Jacqui explained, “Clients should be able to see everything going on. If a groomer won’t allow you to see the facilities, including the cages and everything else, that should be a red flag.” She cited one example of a groomer who re-used flea-infested towels on different dogs instead of washing after each dog, as she does.

So insist on a tour of your groomer’s salon, including a view of the crates, fans, washing machine and dryer, and other elements.

Gentle Grooming is located on Johns Island at 2817 Maybank Highway.

To Be a Dog Groomer in SC

Groomers in SC are not required to be licensed. In fact, just about anybody can open a business and call themselves a groomer.

What are Licensing Requirements in SC?

Licensing for a pet groomer is regulated by most state agencies. But SC does not require licensing. Some states require training facilities to be licensed. Not SC. There are no educational requirements for a pet groomer. Virtually anyone who wants to can open a pet salon, and many unqualified people do.

What is Certification?

Please note: You do NOT need any certification or a license to be a dog groomer in SC. Translation: anyone can call themself a dog groomer. Certification can indicate the groomer is trying to adhere by some recognized standards.

Pet groomers can be certified through the National Dog Groomers Association of America,. Being certified by the NDGAA assures a basic level of competancy. NDGAA offers seminars seminars that lead to certification. Generally lasting two days, the seminars cover the basics of pet grooming and styling. A written exam and demonstration of acquired skills leads to certification.

Not a lot, but it's something.

Pet Grooming Education

There is a plethora of institutions that offer pet grooming instruction. Some of these schools are accredited which means student financial aid may be available. Some offer certifications - which is not required in SC. Some offer on-line training with no hands-on training. The quality of these schools vary greatly and there are many student complaints about standards and practices in many of them.

In Summary

Be very, very careful whom you choose to groom your dog. In addition to a visual inspection of the facility, do your due diligence by checking on-line to see if there are consumer complaints about your groomers. A good way to start is to search for "dog groomer complaints charleston sc". Or check the Better Business Bureau or Angie's List.

Or best of all, get a referral from someone who is pleased with their groomer.

Marcia Livingston
Donna Powell