If you’ve ever entered a room and thought “it smells like dog in here,” you know that keeping your pup looking and smelling clean is not an easy task. Our dogs rely on us to keep their nails trimmed, their teeth brushed, and their coat shiny and unmatted. As humans, there are days when we barely have time for our own morning routines, let alone our dog’s care. These days, we need extra support; at Barking Hound Village, we know it truly takes a village. Groomers provide our pups with a specialized level of care that requires years of training, attention to detail, and patience to master. As November 1st marks National Groomer’s Day, we’d like to take the time to recognize all of our BHV groomers for their stellar work and introduce you to a few of these team members who love your pups so well. 

Like so many members of our community, our groomers Barb (The Village), Monica (Buckhead), Jonathan (Marietta), Calvin (Lofts), and Gray (Decatur) are lifelong dog lovers. “I’ve had a lot of dogs and shown a lot of dogs,” says Barb, a groomer of over 40 years and a professional dog show handler. “I go to the dog shows to learn the breeds and new ways to groom.” Barb has previously shown a borzoi, co-owned and raised Scottish terriers, and is currently a proud dog mom to five standard poodles. You can often find two of her dogs, Poppy and Bijou, with her in the Village salon. 

Monica, a new member of the BHV community, says her love of dogs began as a child, bringing neighborhood dogs home despite her mother’s resistance. “It was almost a weekly thing when my mom got off work” she recounts, “There’d be dogs out of the attic, out of the basement, out of the closet.” Sadly, she recently lost her dog to a battle with cancer, but she still finds so much love and happiness through her Buckhead pups. “You know how you feel endorphins when you’re happy?” she says, “I feel endorphins when I groom.” 

The opportunity to grow brought Jonathan to BHV two years ago. After spending several years in management with Petsmart, Jonathan expressed interest in grooming and began training. “Turns out I had a natural ability for it because within three months I was grooming the same as seasoned groomers,” he remarks. Since making the switch, he has established himself as a leader within BHV grooming, “I’m trying to grow into teaching others. I’ve tapped into another level of efficiency with grooming that they don’t teach at the big box stores.” He has even found his niche in unconventional cuts. “I like doing interesting cuts. The maintenance cuts are your bread and butter, but every now and again you get to fool around – the owner says ‘do whatever you think would look best.’ I have a few customers who enjoy the unordinary cuts. I enjoy doing them. I had a girl who wanted a mullet on her schnauzer/poodle mix. Yesterday, I did a body mohawk on a poodle.”

Not just do our groomers have a big heart for dogs, but for people too. Calvin’s career as a groomer began as a favor for a friend, “I was working at an animal hospital. I wasn’t expecting to be a groomer,” he remembers. “I was friends with the groomer when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She couldn’t work as much, so as her friend, I asked her to teach me how to groom, so I could help her out.” Ten years later, he’s still grooming. “I’ve worked with animals for a long-time, so grooming became second nature. She would tell me “you’re doing really well” when she was teaching me and then we went to grooming expos and lectures. It came so naturally.”

Similar to Calvin, Monica didn’t anticipate her career as a groomer. “It was a fluke. I wanted to go to school for cosmetology, I’ve always had a nack for hair,” she says. “The previous groom shop I worked in, I trimmed a Shih Tzu’s face and made it perfectly round – like the angel’s were singing – how I did it? I have no idea. But the owner said ‘I’m going to train you to be a groomer and that was the beginning.’” She’s found that matching the energy of the dog she’s grooming is essential to gaining their trust. “If a dog comes in and looks at me like ‘I don’t feel like being here. I wanna go home. My mom made me do this.’ I do what I can to get along with the dog, make them feel comfortable with me, and relax, I tell them ‘you’re gonna love it I promise.’”

If you’ve ever had a bad haircut, you know the importance of having a stylist you can trust. Barb agrees that a groomer, much like a human hairstylist, must gain the dog’s trust in order to meet their needs. With four decades of experience, Barb has a keen understanding of her dogs and their eccentricities. “Each dog is different. Everything is different. I just have to make a decision,” she explains. “Sometimes when I bathe the dog it tells me what’s going on, but other times I couldn’t tell you what exactly I’m going to do until I put it on the table. A lot of customers just let me do what I want. Today she said “just make him look pretty” because I’ve done her dog so many times and he’s a harder dog to groom. Dogs are like people. Everyone’s a little different.” 

At Barking Hound Village, our yard is open to all pups and all people. The same applies to our salon. Our team agrees that part of what they love about grooming is the variety. “If I did the same dog all the time it’d be boring, it’s fun to do all the different breeds,” Barb says. Recognizing the unique personality and needs of each dog, our groomers adapt to give them the best care possible. Their ultimate goal is to leave your dog happier and healthier than when they came in. “The dog will tell the owner what the experience was when they go home,” she continues. “A dog should go home just as happy as when it came.” Calvin holds a similar philosophy, “If I can make a dog look and feel better, I can tell they’re happier. I love making them look cute.”

Although our groomers may seem like miracle workers, their job can be very difficult. “You need to be a very patient person to be a groomer,” remarks Calvin. “A lot of dogs aren’t going to stand still. Some dogs are going to be moving.” In order to help our groomers provide the highest quality cuts and care, their biggest recommendation is to “brush, brush, brush.” Monica suggests, “Before getting a long-hair or harder-to-groom dog, do your research and make sure you’re able to maintain the hair because it will mat up. Once it mats up, it’s no longer in your hands. It’s in the hands of the groomer. Listen to your dog if you’re not brushing or combing them. All looks, no work – doesn’t work.” Jonathan adds “Brushing and combing are critical. Even from groom to groom, the quality of groom depends on the quality of maintenance in between. If you want a crisp haircut, you’re going to want to do maintenance baths and brushing. Otherwise, the hair gets trained to an oily curl which is really hard to brush out.” 

Our groomers live out our value “Happy pups = Happy people” through their dedication to your pups safety and care. In the same way Jonathan is concerned for the health and safety of his pitty, Ice Man, he treats your dog with sensitivity when they’re on his grooming table. Just as Calvin dotes on his pups, Stella and Mocha, when your dog is in his care they are getting the special attention they deserve. All of our groomers go above and beyond keeping our dogs clean by prioritizing their happiness. And with that, we wish them a very Happy National Groomer’s Day! Thank you, Barb, Monica, Jonathan, Calvin, and Gray for all the work you do. To learn more about services and schedule an appointment today, click here.