Q. Finally, a little background. How did you get started, and what do you see as the most common grooming challenge? A: I began collecting dog-care books when I was a child and have been grooming dogs since I was a teenager. I found a hobby breeder to apprentice with and gradually learned what worked and what didn’t. I also started networking with other dog lovers. I went to a dog-grooming school — at the time (the 1960s), unless your parents showed dogs, it was difficult to apprentice with a show-dog handler — and I learned a lot about how to handle pet dogs, what kind of tools to use and how to use them.
It surprises me that people acquire dogs and don’t give grooming a second thought until the dog smells bad or is shedding to the point that it affects their quality of life. Why does this happen? It happens because a lot of people who work in the pet industry have more contact and credibility with customers than hobbyists and fanciers do. On the other hand, when it comes to the rare breeds, pet owners often return to the breeder to have their dogs groomed rather than take them to a school- or shop-trained groomer, who may not know the breed. If a person adopts from an animal shelter, the employees or volunteers are unlikely to know anything about grooming, and will probably not even mention it. All in all, it’s important that when you select a dog, you understand what his grooming needs are so you can address them rather than ignore them until the dog’s uncomfortable and you’re frustrated.