Chic Grooming, the pet grooming parlour on Limpsfield High Street, celebrates two years today since its move to Limpsfield from Warlingham. Anita Dolby tells how Chic has settled into Limpsfield life.
How have you settled into Limpsfield life?
Our local customers from the village are great and we have met some really lovely and interesting people and their dogs which, in turn, has helped with local people accepting us. Being invited to run the dog show at the village fete was very encouraging and our daily integration with Kerry and the volunteers in Memorial Stores has helped immensely.
One of the things we like most about Limspfield is that it is an historic village, with charm and character which the residents are keen to keep that way. We very much like to be part of the community and to join in with the local events. Both years we have been here we have sponsored a Christmas tree in the Church yard and caused a few comments as to our unusual tree which sported pink bones as decorations!
This summer we ran the dog show and had a stall at the Limpsfield Village Fete, had a stall at the RSPCA family day at South Godstone and were invited by Hazelwood school to have a stall at their summer fete, all of which were a huge success.
How many dogs and cats do you think you have treated?
We now have in excess of 600 clients, some of which have followed us from Warlingham and many of whom have more than one dog/cat. We do seem to be getting more and more cats in to groom, as they are a specialty and we always insist on two groomers being present due to the very nature of a cat! I have never really thought about how many dogs we have actually groomed – well into the thousands by now I imagine!
We have gained a reputation for being able to groom ’difficult’, anxious and fear-aggressive dogs and, with one exception, we have all been bitten as well as bruised, scratched and head-butted! Although we are trained to look for the danger signs and the body language and stress signs in a dog, our reactions aren’t always as quick as we would like!!
Which are the hardest and easiest dogs to groom?
It’s hard to say to say what dog is the hardest to groom as each dog is different with its own characteristics, behaviour, likes and dislikes, fears etc. For instance, one dog who comes in regularly could hardly be touched and you certainly couldn’t look at him in the eye. One of the groomers had to sit on the grooming table with her back to him so he could lean against her while I tried to clip him one handed without actually touching him. Upon our recommendation his Mum has brought him in regularly to try to get him accustomed to us, the noises and sounds in the salon and to being groomed and handled by strangers. After a couple of years he now comes in and we can groom him quite normally with him sitting happily on the table letting us do what we need to. We have many stories like this and each one of them give us such an immense sense of achievement and pride in our work. We are always up for a challenge!
Grooming isn’t just about bathing and clipping/styling a dog. It is also about establishing trust and a relationship with them and of course their owners. Another very important part of our job is to check the animal over when they first come in and compare any findings with their record card where any lumps, bumps or issues are recorded.
We do get to know our doggie clients very well and are probably more familiar with their little lumps and bumps than their owners. For each dog we have a card with all its details recorded including, most importantly, their physical health.
We are very often aware of a change in the dog that the owner may not have noticed, such as an extra lump or bump or waterwork problems.
Although we are not vets, we do bring these things to the owner’s attention and have to say that on at least a dozen occasions we have been instrumental in getting the animal the medical help it needs by highlighting any changes we find.
We have had several dogs who have been found to have cancer after we pointed out a lump that wasn’t previously recorded on the card and a case of pyrhometra, which is usually fatal in unspeyed bitches. Little signs can be extremely important.
On the whole, Labradors and Retrievers are the most placid dogs and therefore the easiest to groom. Saying this, we do have a good few dogs who fall asleep on the grooming table and we literally have to wake them up!
What about puppies? Can they be groomed too?
We encourage every new dog owner to bring their puppy in as soon as they have had their inoculations and offer a Puppy Intro service when the puppy comes in to meet us, has a bath and is dried, brushed, toenails clipped, pads cleared of hair and a little trim around the eyes and bottom, if required, and at the same time gets used to the noises, riding up and down on the table, being handled by someone other than their owner and family and so on. This is the perfect way to get your puppy happy to come and be groomed rather than make it a frightening experience. Plus, there is an added bonus for us – lots of puppy cuddles – it’s tough, but someone has to do it!
What do you sell in the boutique?
We have lots of goodies such as popcorn, crisps, speciality biscuits, cupcakes and even Pawsecco for dogs and cats and Bottom Sniffer Beer! We also sell collars and leads that we like to think are a little different and find that customers don’t just buy one, they buy a range for all occasions!! Bandanas are very popular in the summer too as that essential ‘must have’ accessory. We sell the highly recommended Greenies that have been clinically trialled. These are chews that help remove plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth and, if given regularly, help you avoid that expensive trip to the vets for dental treatment. We have a range of organic cotton beds in the salon at really competitive prices and these are proving to be very popular too.
Dog Outfits are really popular in the winter and spring and we have a range of practical to glitzy, but all functional and stylish, with the dogs’ needs and lifestyle requirements in mind. Our barbour style jackets and spotted rain macs are the best sellers here. Christmas jumpers are very popular too along with our Christmas Doggie hampers.
The Christmas Photo with dog and owner was incredibly popular, some clients brought the whole family in as well. They are very reasonably priced and the photographers we have worked with over many years specialise in dogs and pets (with the odd human thrown in!).
We can honestly say that there is not one best selling item in the boutique, it all depends on the time of year. At the moment, our Pawbakes kits to make your own dog treats are flying out as they are very popular with children and adults alike as something to do in the school holidays.
What’s next for Chic?
We are next at Knights Garden centre on Saturday 12 August where there will be a dog show with many classes and some charity stalls. We have also been invited back to Hazelwood School for their Christmas Fair, which we’re really looking forward to.
More information on Chic Grooming, go to their website: www.chic-grooming.co.uk. Call 01883 732020.