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Shaggy Chic Owner Says Pet Preening Requires Right Attitude

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  • Shaggy Chic Owner Says Pet Preening Requires Right Attitude

    Bella seems very content on the grooming table. The fluffy little dog appears to know the routine well and is anticipating every action, almost with a sense of eagerness and dutiful compliance.

    The dog lifts her head in the most proper way as the shears pass under her neck. She sits nearly motionless, with what almost looks like a smile on her face, as the groomer cuts the hair around her eyes. She even appears to move into position as if she understands what’s coming next.

    Bella, like many dogs, is used to the grooming process and has learned to enjoy the experience.

    It’s not like this with every dog, though.

    Nicole Witt, owner of Nicole’s Shaggy Chic Grooming Salon in Greenwood, was bitten by a dog the day before.

    “This whole floor was covered in blood,” Witt said. “You would think I cut my arm off.”

    That’s rare, though. It was that dog’s first time at the groomer. Most of Witt’s clients know what to expect and go along with the routine.

    “Most of them, you want to start bringing them when they are little,” Witt said. “The younger the better, just to get used to it. With a lot of groomers, they’ve been grooming that dog so long that it really knows that person.”

    Witt said it’s critical that every groomer comes to work with a positive attitude because dogs can sense when a groomer is tense or upset, which often affects how a dog responds. A happy groomer generally results in a happy dog. However, if the groomer comes in unsettled, the dog often picks up on the anxiety and reflects that during the grooming process.

    “You’ve got to be calm,” Witt said. “Dogs read off how you’re acting. If I come in and I’m like in an irritated mood, the dogs are going to be bad. I can definitely tell a big difference. They definitely feed off of you.”

    Witt has been a groomer for nearly 20 years. She was working in the kennel at Chinquapin Animal Hospital two decades ago when veterinarian Dr. Michael Ridgeway suggested she go to grooming school because Chinquapin was going to need a groomer when it expanded its operations.

    “I’d always had animals,” Witt said. “I always had show horses, so I was familiar with grooming anyway, so it kind of came natural.”

    Witt always loved dogs, so she jumped at the opportunity and traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to learn the craft. She then became a groomer for Camp Chinquapin and stayed there for 10 years before branching out and starting her own business.

    “I’m kind of artsy anyway,” said Witt, who owns two pit bulls. “I like anything to do with being creative. To me, it was more like on the creative side.”

    Witt, who started grooming at age 18, and another employee, Tammy Davis, service between 15 and 20 dogs per day at Shaggy Chic.

    On this day, the dogs all seem at their very best.

    “If you would have seen yesterday, you would have gotten the real deal,” Witt joked. “I got here before 7 to clean up a little bit. Within the first 30 minutes (of being open), I had gotten bit and was bleeding everywhere.”

    Despite this rare occurrence, she enjoys her job.

    “It’s a rewarding job,” Witt said. “A lot of people think we’re up here playing with dogs all day, but it’s not. It’s very stressful. It’s like a child. You’ve got to constantly keep their attention. We have clippers and scissors that are really sharp, so you’ve got to be really careful. It’s not like how I think people envision it.”

    It gets noisy sometimes.

    “Some days you can’t even think straight,” Witt said. “I can’t answer the phone. The phone will ring off the hook. It can get pretty intense. There’s a certain pitch of a bark that can get to you, but we kind of tune it out.”

    Every dog is different when it comes to grooming.

    “Mainly, it’s the owner’s preference,” Witt said. “There’s not really like a guideline. Some people go with the way the breed gets groomed.”

    Some dogs aren’t as easy as Bella.

    “You’ve just have to work through it,” Witt said. “You’ve got to do the best you can. It takes lots of patience. Lots and lots of patience.”

    Witt will do basically whatever the client wants.

    “I have one (dog) that gets a mohawk, and sometimes I color his hair green,” she said.

    She’s noticed through the years that whoever takes the dog from the owner is who the dog generally wants to come to for the grooming process.

    On this day, while Witt worked with a very small dog, Davis groomed a fairly large labradoodle.

    “It takes longer,” Davis said. “It’s not necessarily harder.”

    What is harder, Witt said, it cutting dogs’ nails.

    “Not a lot of dogs enjoy it, and that can be a task sometimes because they don’t want their nails cut or their feet touched.”

    It takes about 30 minutes to groom most dogs. Witt has had instances in which a dog refused to be groomed. In that case, the owner comes and picks up the pet. Most dogs, though, enjoy the experience.

    “She’s very good with them and is compassionate,” Davis said of Witt.

    Witt said every dog has a different personality.

    “You can’t treat them the same,” she said. “Some dogs will react differently to you. Some of them will sit still. Others, you can’t push them around or they’ll get mad.”
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