A dog, just like us humans need love and attention, and part of that care is grooming! We called with Ellen who owns Gal-groom dog grooming business in Ballymena Business Centre, Galgorm to ask a few questions about what got her into this business.
Have you always had an interest in animals, particularly dogs?
“I think my first word was dog! I wasn’t allowed a dog at home which I think made me all the more determined to have one. As soon as I was married I got my first dog Poppy. I took Poppy to training classes to learn the basic rules of caring for a dog then became interested in obedience and agility & started to compete in competitions. I was hooked so then I got Monty, followed by Florence and then Shiraz!! I’m sure there’s room for more if only I could sneak them past my hubby somehow.”
When you were at school did you think your career would be a dog groomer?
“At school I wanted to do music but my A-level choice didn’t allow for it and I ended up on the mathematics route. I went on to gain a First Class Honours degree in Maths, Statistics & Computing but with my interest in dog agility and obedience I wanted to work with my dogs all the time. When personal circumstances changed I figured as long as you have enough money to survive, you’ve got to do what makes you happy. So I left my job in the bank and started my own business.”
What training or qualifications have you got to do this job and are you always learning something new?
“I trained with Christina Jones at Dashin’ Hounds in Dundonald. At the time I trained, formal qualifications were not offered but with calls in the industry for licensing, I have since gained all written & practical exams for my City & Guilds Diploma. The International Certified Master Groomer qualification was launched last year so this is the next qualification I’m aiming for. Yes, the dog grooming world is forever changing so it’s important we stay up to date so we can provide our customers (and dogs) who come to us at Gal-groom with the most current and efficient service, with the dog’s welfare always primary concern.”
Would you recommend this job to a young person who’s mad keen about dogs? What’s the best way to start?
“If you’re absolutely passionate about dogs it’s a great job! The best place to start is to learn how dogs operate. Dog handling, reading their body language, learning about obedience and agility. These are the stepping stones to any dog related job along with gaining the qualifications required.”
What treatments & services can you offer your customers at Gal-groom?
“We can offer everything from a nail trim to the full spa package which is a bath, blow dry and a fancy trim to the breed standard or owner requirements. If you want something a little different we can get creative with the haircut or add glitter, gems, nail colour or even a little bit of temporary hair colour to your dog. Perfect for that special occasion where your dog’s going to be involved too!”
I’ve been in a few times and the dogs are always so well behaved. Is that always the case, or is there the odd time you have to say no?
“I’m a sucker for a challenge so will give most of them a try. Some I can win over but the odd one I have to say no to as I don’t fancy losing my fingers!! The key is reading the dog’s body language and ‘replying’ correctly. It’s best to introduce your dog to grooming while it’s still a pup and will soon learn that the grooming environment is nothing to be scared of.”
We hope the team at Gal-groom dog grooming will be clipping for many years to come….without losing any fingers!