ONE of the first things most people did when emerging from the mundanity of lockdown was to get themselves groomed. Hairdressers and barbers throughout the North were inundated with requests for buzz cuts, colours and perms from their trusty coiffeurs. Not to be outdone, dog owners have also been hounding groomers to prune their pooches.
Emma Conway from Caliway Dog Groomers has been pampering pooches for 16 years and couldn’t be busier at the minute.
“Oh, there has definitely been an exponential upswing in the number of dogs getting groomed, not just by myself but I have spoken with other groomers operating in Derry and Castlederg who are constantly on the go. I’m equally busy which, from my perspective as a business owner and a dog lover, is definitely a good thing.”
Emma attributes the surge in grooming to one thing – Covid.
“Covid and the lockdown has been a massive factor. With so many people staying at home, in some cases feeling very isolated, the urge for companionship became vitally important and who better to give that companionship than a dog.
“Having that closeness is vital to the owner’s mental well-being as well as giving the dog a loving home. A dog will eventually require grooming, so when I was allowed to reopen, the appointments came flooding in. Ideally, a grooming appointment should be made for long-haired breeds every four-to-six weeks while for short-haired breeds it should be every eight-to-12 weeks.”
When dog grooming services were restricted due to lockdown, it led to many owners taking matters into their own hands which Emma says has sparked an interest in taking up the profession.
“I have noticed a lot more people wanting to take advantage of a gap in the market, having groomed their own pets.
“Personally, I teach around eight to 10 students a week and get at least three emails a week from people looking to join the group, bringing the next generation of dog groomers through the ranks.”
When asked about the grooming which is most popular, Emma points to a rise in the ‘Asian Fusion’ style which has become increasingly popular with owners.
“TV shows like the recent Pooch Perfect on BBC have given people a lot of different, flamboyant ideas on grooming and that’s evident when they come in.
“Asian fusion is a style which incorporates shaving the hair to give the look of fluffy puffed-out legs, braiding and ponytails and a rounded muzzle to give a teddy bear look,” Emma explained.
“In some cases, owners even want their dog’s nails painted. To some it might seem a bit outlandish but if that’s what the owner wants, I’m happy to do it. If the owner and the dog are happy, then I’m happy.”