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It’s a dog-groomer’s life, cuz, baby, they were shorn this way

Brenda Henry

June 2011

A basset hound moseys in on pancake paws, his eagle beak toenails tap the floor like drumsticks.

Call him Jocko.

“Jocko needs a nail trim,” his sitter says. Meanwhile, a yellow lab is being groomed on the backroom massage table. He shoots a canine grin my way, like he’s head guest at a meatball buffet.

“Zrrrrrrrr” goes the shaver, as tufts of dog hair float to the floor. Donna Condy is a professional pet groomer and owner of Groomies in Beaconsfield.

Donna, where did you grow up?

I arrived in Beaconsfield as a baby.

What were your childhood interests?

Horseback riding was my passion.

Did you know what job you wanted?

I always loved animals and wanted to be a vet, but I didn’t want to operate on them, thinking it would cause pain. As a pet groomer, I don’t hurt my customers.

As a kid, I was always bringing animals home from the barn. Once I brought a cat home and my mom made me bring it back. She’s not a cat lover. We always had dogs.

How did you get started?

At first I worked from home, then had my children, and slowly built up my dog grooming until I had 20 clients. Following that, I got a job at Groomies when it was in Pointe Claire. Eventually I bought the place.

Any observations about people and their pets?

Certain people are attracted to certain breeds. Calm people will have calm dogs.

High strung folks tend to have high strung dogs. Athletic people run with their dogs. Those dogare generally happy and calm.

Does everyone deserve a pet?

Not if they don’t have time for one.

What do you notice about the pets you receive?

It’s never the same. Some dogs arrive here looking like they’ve been on the street, homeless. We might see those dogs once a year. Have you ever reported pet abuse ?

Donna Condy with one really hairy dog. Photo courtesy of Brenda Henry

Yes. I’ve had to report two dogs to the SPCA. Dogs that were never groomed. They were in an awful state. But the law says that as long as a pet has food and shelter, they don’t have to be groomed.

What exactly does grooming entail (no pun intended)?

It depends on the breed. There are two different categories of coats: hair and fur. Hair needs to be trimmed down, and with fur, the undercoat must be brushed out. We also give baths, blow dries and nail clips.

What’s tough about grooming dogs?

Meeting some owners who don’t take good care of their dogs. When a dog is never brushed at home, that dog is in pain. Some owners don’t agree with what needs to be done for their pet. We have to explain the what and why.

What’s the best part of your job?

Dogs kiss me on the ear, my face. They wag their tails. Sometimes the joyous barking is so loud, it’s crazy fun.

Do you get any other animals in here?

Sometimes rabbits hop in to have their nails done.

Does anyone ever ask you to do special requests such as tinting the NHL logo on the side of a dog?

No, but someone asked me to shave a running shoe swoosh on the side of their cat. I did my best. Oh, and another customer asked me to make their schnauzer look like a lab.

Do some dogs resemble their owners?

We have a golden doodle with the same colour hair as his owner. They look absolutely gorgeous as they leave here with their hair blowing in the wind.

Has a pet ever bitten you?

Not often. We put a muzzle on dogs that show signs of aggression. I don’t wear gloves.

Dinggg. The door opens. Two fancy mini dogs are styled and ready to leave, but a big hairy new guy is straining on leash to come inside. The little guys start howling their indignation. How dare that big kahuna upstage us?

Meanwhile, Jocko is done. He glides across the floor silently toward a cat carrier box, presses his nose flat against a side air hole and takes a long sniff.


The cat inside is not amused, nor is she taking guff from anyone. Jocko lets out a bluesy Bob Dylan wail. “Rrrrruffffffff.”

“Arooooo.” The little guys join the chorus, noses pointed skyward. Donna slips each dog a cookie.



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