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Former police officer trades gun for clippers

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  • Former police officer trades gun for clippers

    The Arizona Republic

    She is a retired police officer, but Goodyear resident Gail Paxton still cruises the streets, never knowing exactly what type of hairy situation the next call will bring.

    Maybe it's a heavy-shedding sheepdog. Or a Shih Tzu with mats. It could be an 80-pound Great Dane that plops down on the table and refuses to roll over, something that can bring the most grizzled dog groomers to their knees.

    "You've got to be on your toes," said Paxton, reached between appointments for her mobile grooming business, Head to Tail by Gail.

    Paxton started the business at the beginning of this year, replacing her service revolver with clippers.

    "My new weapon of choice," she said.

    The new job shares some aspects of law enforcement. Paxton still gets to be out on the road. She still speaks to a variety of people.

    "Being an officer and dealing with the public - knowing how people react to things - helps a lot in this business," she said.

    Paxton also still needs to keep her patience in potentially frazzling situations. And she still solves people's problems - although it's a lot easier dealing with canine elements rather than the potential criminal ones.

    "The more people I meet, the more I like my dog," Paxton said, quoting one of her favorite bumper stickers.

    Paxton, who was also a firefighter and paramedic in Georgia, started learning the grooming business during the close of her time with the Phoenix Police Department, where she spent time as a patrol officer, sergeant and detective.

    Retirement came after 20 years and, like many law enforcement personnel, Paxton found herself thinking it was too early to take it easy.

    "I did everything I needed to do as far as being an adrenaline junkie," the 58-year-old said. "I was getting up in age, but I'm too young to retire and sit around and watch soap operas. I want to do something I really enjoy."

    Paxton loved animals and started learning the basics of shampooing and grooming at a few shops in town. The owner of four dogs (a Chihuahua, a Chihuahua pug mix, a border collie and a black Labrador), Paxton said it seemed as if she found her second calling.

    She chose to make her business mobile so she could still be on the road, rather than one place. She also said she liked the idea of having no employees and having less time keeping up an office or storefront.

    "I can spend more time with the dogs," she said.

    Her van, or K-9 unit, is air conditioned and equipped with a tub with hot and cold water, she said.

    Having the groomer come to the dog negates the need for cages and is less stressful on the dog, Paxton said. But, just like when she was an officer, Paxton knows even the most professional encounter can be traumatic. She has taken to calling customers the next day to make sure their dogs are feeling fine.
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