Kerry Buhler had many reasons for started her own pet grooming business, but the best two reasons are named Bobo and Cuddles.
Cuddles came to Buhler from Wrigley looking like a grey, shaggy, twisted rope floor mop in desperate need to be rid of the extreme matting that was sticking out in all directions and blocking his sight. His health and quality of life would have been sacrificed had he carried on that way, so Buhler took the clippers to his coat and the scissors to his face, and snipped and buzzed her way to a completely different dog.
Then there was Bobo, a little shih tzu which was found in bad shape. His coat shaving could have made a carpet because his fur, from head to toe, stuck together after it hit the floor.
These furry little reasons were the catalysts for the birth of TLC Grooming.
With four years as manager of the Hay River Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), along with being one of the original founders of the organization 12 years ago, Buhler knows a thing or two about dogs.
She also said that is how she found out there was a need for a groomer in Hay River.
“Some people don’t have access to a dog groomer or they take in strays who really need it,” said Buhler, noting that, while working at the SPCA, she would get calls from people desperate to find a place for their dogs. “That was how I knew there was a need. And I love dogs. Anything to do with dogs, I’m there.”
After being bathed, deodorized, and scrubbed up in a tub, the dogs are taken downstairs to Buhler’s home-based grooming studio. Bottles of colourful shampoos, coat conditioners and doggy deodorizers are lined up against the entrance wall with bags of treats and toys.
“I use a lot of treats when I groom,” said Buhler. “Some dogs are nervous and so, when we take it easy and they realize they’re not going to get hurt, they relax a little.”
Dogs hop onto a royal blue, rubber slip-proof grooming table where Buhler goes to work – brushing, removing matted fur, shearing, ear cleaning, nail clipping and putting some finishing touches on each dog’s coat.
Some dogs require more work than others, said Buhler.
The full treatment for a little dog can be around $60 depending on the time it takes. For larger dogs, prices range between $60-$100.
Shedding dogs may take less time on the actual grooming table, but more time in the tub, said Buhler, adding most labs and water dogs repel water and need an extra good scrubbing.
She has big plans for TLC Grooming, but she is still gauging the need locally and from around the North. So far, she has worked on dogs from several communities. Since January, she’s been working a full seven days most weeks.
Each dog has a file, so if Buhler notices something during her initial once over, like lumps and bumps, she can let the owner know, and even monitor it during visits.
So far she’s only taking two or three dogs a day because she spends lots of time with each one, sometimes up to two hours.
“The chances of hurting a dog increase when you rush,” said Buhler. “It’s already stressful coming to a different place with new people. Half of them are already scared. I’m not here to make a ton of money. I mean, it’s nice, but ultimately I’m doing it for the dogs. I get my puppy fix every day.”
— Angele Cano