Did you know that pet groomers in the United States have split personalities? Yes! Truth! Let me explain why.
Dogs and cats in America have a long, proud history of working. Farms, barns, yards, stores, kitchens: wherever you look, dogs and cats valiently protected home and property from pesky mice, dangerous coyotes, and naughty neighbors.
Nowadays, most American pets, like most American teen-agers, are purely decorative. They lounge . . . they eat copious amounts of food . . . they are adorned or adorn themselves with the latest styles . . . and we care for them all the more, because their most important function still exists, that of being loved and of loving.
What does this have to do with the split personality of American pet groomers and the American pet grooming profession?
On the one hand, American groomers are shifting into the “spa” model of pet grooming. We’ve all read those articles mocking or admiring the trend toward facials, massages and fur-coloring.
On the other hand, if you walk into ten American grooming salons, six out of ten have a purely utiiltarian or even industrial aesthetic. I am talking bare walls, metal cages, large blow dryers made of black plastic or steel blasting air, huge stainless steel tubs, clanging and banging noises, and the happy, or not happy, chatter of pet groomers.
For contrast, look at YouTube videos of South Korean grooming salons, then look at videos of grooming salons in the United States. Look at the decoration, the clothing worn by groomers, the facial expressions. Listen to the sounds.
While YouTube videos show a select group of salons who do not represent all grooming salons in their countries, the difference in presentation between American salons and South Korean is dramatic. I would go so far as to say there are night and day differences in presentation.
This has nothing to do with skill level or attitude towards pets. I am talking only about presentation.
It seems to me that American groomers are caught between the past, when dogs and cats were workers, and the present, where dogs and cats are children. Being caught in the middle is awkward. You try one thing. You try another. You are a little bit of everything and not completely anything.
In countries where pets are viewed more purely as a luxury, the groomers have a more clear direction.
The other thing is that many American groomers pride themselves on noticing medical issues. I do too! We see ourselves as companions to the veterinary profession. And it shows. Some grooming salons have all the charm and grace of a veterinary clinic room. That is not a mistake. That is a philosophy.
Should American groomers change? I don’t think so. Everyone has something to offer. I love the beauty of South Korean grooming salons. I love the fun, puffy style of grooming favored there. AND I respect American groomers’ utilitarian style and sensibility. It is down-to-earth, practical and results in clean, attractive dogs and cats. Each to their own. Bravo groomers, wherever and whoever you are!