Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Intro from "Going to The Dogs"

I must confess I never would have dreamed that, while trudging
through my previous careers, my final one would be as a “mobile pet
groomer.” I’m not even sure I had ever heard the phrase. However,
hidden among my five children was a “doggie-phile” daughter who led
me at age forty-five into the thrilling world of dog grooming.

After returning from her first year in college, Kris announced,
“Mom and Dad, I don’t know what I really want to do. So-o-o, what
would you think about sending me to dog grooming school?”

Huh? My husband Niel and I were unaware there was such a thing
as a school for grooming dogs, but we added up the numbers. With
three other children in college, if Kris chose a semester learning how
to clean up pets rather than four expensive years in higher education,
the winner was...?

Meanwhile, my job at the Social Security Administration wasn’t
panning out. Dealing with upper management personalities at one
end, while supervising employees at the other, was turning me into
an indecisive administrator empathizing with everyone’s viewpoints. I
took advantage of every sick day and planned exotic vacations before
actually earning the leave. Another indication I was spiraling downward
was the disturbing discovery of clumps of hair on my pillow and in my
brush. Was I losing my mind along with my hair?

Clearly, it was time to move on, and Kris’ new career sounded quite
attractive. I, too, could play with dogs all day. There was even an outside
chance that lifting and brushing them would tighten up those flappy
wings that were beginning to swing from my upper arms. And tucked
in the back of my mind lurked the possibility that my plump, matronly
body might morph back into its long-gone seventeen-year-old figure.
OK, I said it was an outside chance.

Little did I know that following in my daughter’s footsteps and
embarking on my new career would be like Alice in Wonderland
plunging “down the rabbit hole” and into the wild and new-fangled
world of mobile pet grooming. Sure, caring for pets was as old as Eve,
after her fall in the Garden of Eden, pulling the burrs out of a lamb’s
coat. But in the 1980s my career on wheels was so innovative that,
when I mentioned it, most people said, “What?”

Along the way I was privileged to meet some unique dogs, wonderfully
talented groomers and generous owners. But, I also had my share of
schizophrenic pets, eccentric clients and incompetent groomers, not to
mention trying to herd a fleet of undependable vans.

At times, I felt I was a character in a Stephen King horror novel or
involved in a newspaper account on alcoholics and druggies. I could
have written Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again or taught a course called
“100 Ways to Restore Your Vehicle with Duct Tape.” But my story is
an actual “true confessions” yarn that includes incriminating episodes
unrevealed until now. In the end I wouldn’t have given up a moment
(oops, well, maybe a few) of the twenty-one years I spent “Going to
the Dogs.”



  1. Hi Jan
    I loved your book and plan to share it with my groomer friends here in Australia.
    It struck a chord with me, we share some parallels as I came to grooming at the same age you did, after a stressful and unrewarding career. I laughed in agreement with your client summations and felt the love you had for your doggie clients, as all of us genuine groomers do. I shared your long days and felt the pain of balancing the income with the expenses - we are certainly not in this to make a million!
    Best wishes to you for a long and relaxed retirement!

  2. Thanks for the informative post. It helped me a lot. May the Force be with you.