Mentors in the Spotlight

Hollywood Puppies
ABC Externship Facility

Hollywood Puppies

Hollywood Puppies in San Antonio, Texas, offers full-service grooming and puppy sales An average of 50 clients a day step foot into the 3,000-square-foot facility to either adopt a new family member or to get an existing one a new look by one of the shop’s professional groomers. Jessica, the owner of Hollywood Puppies, dreamed of owning her own store for a long time. That dream was realized in 2012 in Pleasanton, Texas, but she soon outgrow that location and moved the shop to San Antonio in 2013. Hollywood Puppies is now looking to branch out, and hopes to have stores in Houston and Austin in the near future.

What do you like most about participating in the ABC Mentor program?
I like that they come with all their tools, bag, apron—all of the essentials. I also like that they pretty much know what they are doing when they first begin. They can jump right into tasks with minimal supervision after a while. Of course, they are still students and not always perfect at first, but they very quickly progress. I also like that we get to train them to hire. We have hired three of your students in the past and plan to continue hiring them as you send them.

What is the most important skill students can learn at your facility?
We sell puppies— and puppies are among the hardest dogs to groom—and most them come back for grooming; we also groom our own puppies. That is the first thing your students learn in our facility—how to properly handle puppies, how to clean puppies’ ears and anal glands, etc. We also have your students learn the importance of cleanliness. They clean until their tails fall off, but in the end, it is so beneficial to the future success of our business. Clients love that our facility is so clean.

Describe one of your best experiences as an ABC Mentor Facility.
There is not one experience I can pinpoint; but out of all the students we have mentored from your school, we have had very few issues. Your students are responsible, caring and passionate, and make great groomers.

Do your facility employees participate in any volunteer work, particularly anything animal-related?
As a store, we host events for the Animal Defense League. Animal Defense League helps place dogs and cats into new, loving homes. We allow them to bring their truck to our store and set up shop for the day. We enjoy helping this organization find forever homes for dogs and cats in unfortunate situations.

Would you recommend ABC to anyone looking to pursue a career in pet grooming? If so, why
Yes, absolutely. It is very difficult to find good groomers in Texas, but your school helps produce them.


Canine Casa
ABC Externship Facility

Canine Casa opened in 1998 and was purchased by Cherie Lipton in 2006. Business has been growing ever since. Canine Casa is open Tuesday to Saturday by appointment only. Cherie set these hours to ensure personalized, one-on-one service with every furry client who comes into her shop. She became a mentor for ABC’s Grooming Instruction Program in 2013 and has mentored two students so far. ABC wanted to know what inspires her as a groomer and how her experience with ABC and ours students has been.

What do you like most about participating in the ABC Mentor program?
I love to teach. I enjoy teaching these students that it is not just about grooming and the process, but it is also about how you interact with the dogs throughout that process. For example, looking at how the dog might react to certain situations and how you give back that energy to them, by calming them down or being happy with them. I also enjoy seeing someone flourish and become successful in grooming, an occupation I obviously love so much.

What is the most important skill students can learn at your facility?
Students need to learn how to properly handle dogs and interact with them, particularly in the grooming environment. Grooming itself can be a very stressful experience and environment for dogs. These animals are not with their owners,; they’re in a strange place with loud noises around them, unusual things are being done to them and strange people are handling them. If you don’t know how to handle dogs, it will not matter how much you know about grooming because the dog won’t be cooperative and it can be a very dangerous situation.

Has your facility hired any ABC students or graduates? If not, would you consider doing so if a position became available?
Actually yes. We just hired a recent student, Jaz Lund. She did very well in her externship and we really enjoyed having her at the salon and decided to keep her around. I would definitely consider hiring students in the future if they do well in their externship, are a good fit with the staff and dogs. It would also depend on how much business we have at the time, and if we are looking to hire.

What techniques/methods to do use to help your students gain as much experience, skill and knowledge as possible before graduating?
The first thing I start with when working with a beginner is to look at how they interact with the animals and what kind of approach they have. I like to make sure the student has learned appropriate canine body language and behavior. They should know what signs to look for when a dog is stressed, overly excited, or defensive, etc. In addition, they should be familiar and educated on dog anatomy. For example, what joints are where and how they flex, where the danger or bite zones are and how to approach them safely.

Would you recommend ABC to anyone looking to pursue a career in pet grooming?
I would and do. I like the course materials given and love the externship program. The materials are very descriptive and thorough. The DVDs especially are great and I think there is a lot to be learned from them, even for an experienced groomer. I feel that through the externship, students are more able to develop their individual strengths and hone in on those skills they might need more time and practice with, as well as pursue certain areas of grooming they are passionate about.


Ruff Housing Dog Daycare
ABC Externship Facility

Ruff Housing, owned by Kim and Roger Vaughn, provides dog daycare, lodging, grooming and training services at four locations in North Carolina—two in Winston-Salem and one each in Greensboro and Clemmons. The Vaughn's have won community awards every year since 2011 for their outstanding customer service and business practices. Several ABC students have completed their externships at Ruff Housing and every member of the grooming staff helps create the best experience possible for all involved.

What is your favorite part of the ABC Mentor program?
We love being able to give grooming students a “real-life” experience to prepare them to enter the grooming field. They work side-by-side with one of our trained groomers, so they are able to see the entire process from start to finish. They also gain a realistic perspective on what it will be like to work in a busy grooming shop.

Why is it important for a student who wants to become a pet groomer to have hands-on experience?
In addition to giving them a realistic perspective of the job, they also start to learn early on the importance of time management. They can see how an experienced groomer manages the varied tasks of the day. There is no better way to learn than to get hands-on time with the dogs. They are exposed to a variety of breeds and situations, which is also essential.

What is the most important skill of students to learn in a grooming facility?
Customer service. You can be the most skilled groomer and complete the best-looking dogs, but if you are not relating to the clients, listening to their requests and setting realistic expectations, you won’t be able to build a good relationship with them and they won’t come back. Dog people want to know that the person taking care of their beloved pup cares about them.

How has your experience been since becoming an ABC Mentor Facility?
It has been great. We have enjoyed getting to know our students, and our groomers have really embraced the opportunity to mentor others and pass on their skills and experience.


Yvonne Gray - Pet Stop
ABC Externship Facility

Yvonne Gray is the owner and head groomer of Pet Stop, which is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. She not only grooms dogs, but cats, birds and even performs nail trims on rabbits. Yvonne also offers pedicures, flea dips and free nail clips on newly acquired puppies. She grooms an average of 10 dogs a day, and her doors are open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 .a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Yvonne loves all aspects of grooming, from getting to know the do, to bathing to the finishing cut.

Do your facility employees participate in any volunteer work, particularly anything animal-related?
My facility works with the humane society to help dogs find their permanent homes. When dogs are clean and well-groomed, they have a better chance for a long-term home.

What do you like most about participating in the ABC Mentor program?
I love to teach. Everyone has to start somewhere and teaching is something I am drawn to.

What is the most important skill students can learn at your facility?
One of the most important skills is communicating with the animal when working on it. Having positive thoughts and bonding with the animal is essential. A clear head is [also] important. Dogs can sense thoughts and vibes of other dogs as well as people. Because I am aware of the importance of communicating and reading the animal, I am excellent with difficult animals. You also have to let the animal know in a non-aggressive way that you are in charge while grooming it. This gets easier and easier the longer you groom..

Has your facility hired any ABC students or graduates? If not, would you consider doing so if a position became available?

Yes, of the two students I have mentored for ABC, I have offered both employment after completing their externship.

Would you recommend ABC to anyone looking to pursue a career in pet grooming?
Yes, I would recommend ABC to anyone looking to pursue this career because you get the best of both worlds. Students are able to learn the basics at home and then enter a facility where they can use that knowledge to build on their skills.


Kingston Mills Veterinary Hospital
ABC Mentor

Kingston Mills Veterinary Hospital, located in Glenburnie, Ontario, Canada has an on-site groomer, Debbie Kells. She has mentored a few Animal Behavior College’s grooming students and continues to help as much as she can. Debbie starting working at Kingston Mills 7 years ago and has been grooming professionally since 1998. She has worked on several show dogs including Pomeranians she used to show herself. Although Kingston Mills is a veterinary facility, Debbie is busy every day grooming dogs and cats.

Which part of the grooming process do you most enjoy?
Everything; I love my job. I groom at the vet Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I also do a lot of grooming at a senior citizen home. I help people who don’t drive or have any disabilities. It is hard for them to get their pets to the groomer so I go to their home and help with their dogs

Do the facility employees participate in any volunteer work, particularly anything animal-related?
The owner of Kingston Mills Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Toxopeus, is also the vet for the Kingston Humane Society. A few girls who work at the hospital also volunteer at the humane society. We also do a lot of benefits for the Kingston spay and neuter clinic. Kingston Mills is a great place to work and Dr. Toxopeus is an amazing man.

What do you like most about participating in the ABC Mentor program?
I love that I am able to teach students the correct way to groom dogs and cats as well as the fastest way. I love when a student isn’t afraid to try something new. I have several clients who come in with mixed-breeds and I enjoy teaching the student to be open-minded and to suggest things to the clients. I love teaching the student new ways to groom.

Why do you think it is important for grooming students to have on-the-job experience?
Books can teach you so much but when it comes to handling the animal, on-the-job experience teaches you to not be intimated. Working hands-on also helps you learn to read different dogs and the signs they give when you are grooming.

What was one of your best experiences as an ABC Mentor?
When a student comes back and thanks me for helping them. The last student came back a few times to ask questions and just to keep in touch. It is a great feeling to know the student is comfortable enough that she can still call me and ask me for help even if she is not working with me anymore.


Jeannine Camp, Groom Room
ABC Mentor

Jeannine Camp, owner and groomer of the Groom Room, located in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, is one of the most recognized and successful groomers and business owners in the state. Her salon was on the cover of March 2009 Groomer to Groomer for spa and kennel services and had a six-page spread inside. Jeannine first became a mentor for Animal Behavior College’s Grooming Program in 2012. In the middle of her medical field career, Jeannine decided it was time to pursue a career in something she really loved. That “something” was dog grooming. The mantra Jeannine lives her life by is: God first, family second, business third. Jeannine made sure to point out that, “My furry clients and their owners are my family. If you life your life right, a successful business comes on its own.” She is a wonderful role model for any and all new groomers looking for inspiration.

Which part of the grooming process do you most enjoy?
I absolutely love the finished product. I love putting the bandana and bows on the dogs. Their tails start wagging like crazy and they start licking your face. They feel good and look good—inside and out. Dogs always want approval, and we can facilitate that when they look and feel good after a spa session and everyone gives them love and attention.

Do your facility employees participate in any volunteer work, particularly anything animal-related?
Oh yes. One of my favorite ways to give back to the community is when we do photo shoots for the Humane Society. Clients, families, children, friends come in and they take pictures with my hot pink, award-winning show Poodle, Ooh La La. The proceeds go to the SPCA. We also take part in some specialty grooming for the SPCA when they have dogs that need a breed specific cut. We are also getting ready to do a Girl Scout photo shoot evening for the Girl Scout’s Birthday Party. We already have 120 booked so far. The girls get to meet and greet with Ooh La La as well. Another way our salon gives back to the community is we visit Tripa Hospital. Ooh La La and I visit and give comfort to soldiers and their wives.

Describe why you think it is important for grooming to have on-the-job experience.
The hands-on portion of ABC’s program is so important. People consider their pets their children. Not just their pets, but their children. It is all about heart and loving those dogs who come in like they are your own children. You have to experience that feeling in person to really understand. Our clients bring their dogs in to maintain wellness. We let them know if there is a potential hot spot, packing in the anal glands, etc. They come for the whole spa benefit: mind and body.

What is the most important skill students can learn at your facility?
For everyone in this industry, and especially in my salon, it all comes down to taking initiative and coming in with the right attitude. No one is above keeping the dogs and people safe. It is also about awareness. If something looks like a potential hazard, you take care of it right away. If you are passionate about the animals, you make sure they and everyone around them are safe.

What do you like most about participating in the ABC Mentor program?
Well that is an easy question: I like to keep the girls I train. ABC has sent me so many wonderful students. They are passionate about the animals, trustworthy and keep everyone safe. I also just love to teach and give back to the community. Sometimes I think, ‘Why did I do this again?’ when something is a lot of work, but is always ends up being worth it to see the smiles and success.

Has your facility hired any ABC students or graduates?
We have mentored four of ABC’s grooming students since we started with your program in 2012 and have hired three. We hired Andrea back in September and she was great. She is very hard working and was wonderful to have in the salon. She unfortunately had to move to a much farther part of the island. We also hired Katrina. She has worked for us for a few months now. Her husband is in the military so she will be moving back to the mainland in a few months. We will be so sad to see her go. We also have our most recent graduate student, Rachael working for us. She has really put everything she has into learning about grooming and also the business aspects. She did a fun, hot-pink zebra stripe on my Poodle, Ooh La La. It came out awesome. I am very proud of how far she has come.


Trudy Akins
ABC Externship Facility

Trudy Akins has had her grooming and show dog business, Golden Touch, for more than 34 years. She previously groomed out of her home but opened a larger facility located within Cabot Animal Hospital in Cabot, Ark., about 5 years ago.

Trudy’s shop is open for business Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until the last dog goes home. She separates herself from the competition by not only grooming dogs but cats as well. Trudy has no other employees at this time besides her current intern but does have occasional help.

In order for students to gain the best knowledge possible before graduating Trudy says they must first learn how to bathe and properly brush out an animal. Without this basic knowledge, grooming will become more challenging than it should be, she noted.

Trudy enjoys seeing the pets’ and owners’ after a grooming session. She said that as much as their owners smile, she sees the “smile” on the animals’ faces as well, especially after getting the chance to view the outcome in a mirror.

What do you like most about participating in the ABC Mentor program?
My current student is my favorite part of the ABC Mentor program. She is a wonderful trainee and a joy to work with.

Has your facility hired any ABC students or graduates?
After my current student completes her externship, I will most likely hire her. She has a wonderful drive and is not afraid to try anything. I can pretty much put anything in front of her and she takes the challenge and never gives up. She is very brave and a joy to be around.

Describe why you think it is important for grooming to have on-the-job experience.
It is important to have on-the-job experience because the book is never enough. The book does not tell you even one-fourth of what you need to know. For instance, students need to be able to learn the difference between an animal who is aggressive versus one who is scared or nervous. This is only something that can be learned “on-the-job.” Once you put your hands on a dog, you are dealing on a whole different avenue. Dogs will wiggle, squirm, jump and leap while you are trying to work on them. It takes lots of experience and patience to groom dogs because they do not sit there like a statue. The book will get you started but once you begin to use equipment and work on clients, you will then find out that some equipment is faulty, works differently than described, etc. Basically, there is nothing that can replace hands-on experience.

Would you recommend ABC to anyone looking to pursue a career in pet grooming?
Yes, I would recommend ABC to someone looking to pursue a career in pet grooming because the program does provides good knowledge prior to beginning the internship and also requires hands-on training.


Annie's Pet Salon
ABC Externship Facility

Annie's Pet Salon, a large facility located in Nampa, Idaho, is open Monday through Saturday. Its grooming room consists of three grooming stations, four bathtubs and a huge retail and waiting area.

A typical day for owner Annie Bounds, her groomers, and ABC students involves working with anywhere from 10 to 30 dogs. In her facility students are not only exposed to basic grooming skills but also other sides of the business, such as do-it-yourself clients and retail. When students work along side Annie, they see all types of breeds and styles.

“I groom all breeds,” Annie said. “I like to not limit myself to any breed or size.”

“My favorite part of grooming is sculpting,” Annie noted. “I can see what the client wants as they tell me, and I love that I’m teaching our groomers of tomorrow how to work with clients and their requests.”

By working alongside Annie’s groomers, students can put what they’ve studied into practice while having a professional groomer answer any questions they may have.

“I love that the students are working out there in the field,” Annie said. “It's a hands-on job and I've seen first-hand that together, ABC and a mentor groomer can make another great groomer.”

Students have done so well working with Annie that she currently has an ABC Graduate working full time in her facility.

For Annie, the most important skill in grooming isn’t styling, but the safety of the pet and stylist.

“Too many times I've seen owners who have injured their pets because they are untrained,” Annie said.

Taking students through the daily grooming tasks from safety and bathing to clipping and styling, helps provide the experience and skills they will need in order to become successful.

“I recommend ABC to anyone looking to become a groomer,” Annie commented. “Although I can show students how to do a task, the college does that plus explains why it is that way. That is just as important as holding a pair of clippers properly.”


Sandy Pawz
ABC Externship Facility

Sandy Tate is an ABC Mentor Trainer and co-owner of Sandy Pawz Dog House, located in San Marcos, California. This grooming salon and training center is approximately 3000 square feet and sees between 20-25 clients per day. They groom dogs as well as cats. Sandy is also an ABC Certified Dog Trainer and Pet Groomer.

Her favorite part of the grooming mentor program is being able to interact with the students and utilize her teaching skills. Before becoming a professional groomer, Sandy was a high school teacher. She feels that it is important for students to have on the job experience if they want to become a pet groomer. Sandy believes that one cannot learn to groom a dog from simply reading a book, they need practice. She says “A book can teach you the fundamental techniques of grooming such as how to clip nails or trim a dog, but there are certain skills that come from working with experienced groomers like how to deal with different coat types or work with a skittish dog. You need both to be a successful pet groomer.” One of the most valuable skills that a student can learn from an established grooming salon is how to read a dog. This means looking for signs of fear or stress which is usually represented by the dog’s body posture, specifically in their ears or tail. “If you can read the dog, you’re less likely to get hurt. Also, if you know how to handle certain dog behaviors, your job can be easier” she comments.

Sandy recently became an ABC mentor and has already hired one of her mentees. Her experience with being an ABC Mentor Groomer has been a good one.
She enjoys working with ABC students and passing on her grooming knowledge to them. Sandy’s goal for her students is to have them work with as many different dog breeds as possible so that they are exposed to a variety of cuts and coat types. She is always there to answer questions the students may have and provide support and guidance.

Sandy would recommend ABC to anyone looking to pursue a career in pet grooming because of the success she has experienced in her own life and is now sharing with others. At this time she has taken on 2 students and is looking forward to mentoring more in the near future.

630 Nordahl Rd San Marcos, CA., 760-739-PAWZ (7299),


Maggie’s Farm Natural Pet Grooming
ABC Externship Facility

Kristin Gambler is the owner and head groomer of Maggie’s Farm Natural Pet Grooming in San Diego, California. Kristin discovered that she wanted to work with animals after volunteering at her local humane society. She began searching for jobs in the animal industry when she was hired as a bather at a local grooming salon. She did not have any previous experience except for caring for her own cocker spaniel but was committed to learning everything she could from her mentor. After 18 years, Kristin was finally ready to start her own grooming salon and in 1999 Maggie’s Farm Natural Pet Grooming opened its doors.

Kristin recently joined the ABC Groomer mentor program and has enjoyed passing on her grooming knowledge to students. The salon is very busy, grooming anywhere from 8-12 cats and dogs per day. According to Kristen, the students “get right into it” and work directly with clients. Thus far, she has worked with one ABC student who finished her externship in March of this year and has since hired her. She is also currently working with another ABC student who started in May. She feels that it is essential for students who want to become professional groomers to get hands on experience. “This is not a job for the faint of heart- you sweat and get dirty. If you are not committed and hard working, you won’t be successful” she comments.

The most rewarding part about being an ABC mentor for Kristin is sharing her expertise with students. In her opinion, bathing is the most important skill for students to learn in a grooming facility because “…no matter how good your skills are, a dog must be bathed and dried well to get a good trim.” In addition, she believes in a holistic approach to pet ownership and loves to teach her clients as well as her mentors about pet nutrition. She says “the benefits of good nutrition can be seen from the inside out. A dog or cat’s coat and teeth are a reflection of what they eat.” Kristin emphasizes the importance of knowing the different facets of grooming so that her students will be able to run successful businesses in the future.

Kristen is looking forward to working with more students as they enter into their externships. She would definitely recommend ABC to anyone looking to pursue a career in pet grooming because she feels it is a good start to learning the basics.

Maggie’s Farm Natural Pet Grooming, 1902 Rosecrans Street, San Diego, CA 92106, (619) 225-2210.


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