Story of A… Pet Groomer

Ashley Deveau keeps her four-legged clients looking and feeling good at Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming in Thornton Park.

Roberto Gonzalez

Making up for a pet-less childhood. “We didn’t have animals growing up, but we had horses in a barn by our house. I wanted to be a veterinarian, but that didn’t happen. When I got into grooming, I saw that a lot of people need help with their animals. This is not a job for me, this is my life.” Deveau has six dogs of her own—mostly rescues. 

Beauty begins at home … “Owners should always groom their dogs, but not give them a haircut. Brush them a lot, do their nails. But leave the clippers to us.” 

… and continues at the groomers. “We do a seven-point inspection: eyes, ears, nails, body, coat, tail and butt.” Deveau, a stylist/groomer certified by the National Association of Professional Creative Groomers and Penn Foster, recommends grooming as early as 8 weeks old.

Patience pays off. Big dogs can take 3-4 hours to groom and smaller dogs 2-2½ hours. “With my experience, I can do it faster.” Working Friday through Sunday, Deveau usually does 15-17 dogs.

Different dogs, different ’do. “Breeds are different. For example, never use conditioner on a West Highland terrier because their hair is thick. The same goes for any dog with coarse hair. That’s their look. Respect it. Their grooming is completely different from, say, a Maltese, which has straight hair, almost like a human’s.” 

Shih Tzus vs. pit bulls. “Shih Tzus are the most difficult to groom. They’re like cats. Pit bulls would surprise you, especially if they’re rescues. They’ve never been groomed, so they’re like, ‘Wow, this feels good!’ ” 

Dealing with a difficult dog. First, calm them down. “Sometimes it helps to lay them on a pillow or have a helper bear-hug them. Sometimes talking softly helps; sometimes no talking is best. I’ve been called the dog whisperer.” 

Leave your troubles at home. “I leave any personal anger or sadness at the door. Dogs pick up on your emotions.’’ 

Bites come with the job. When she does get bit, Deveau soothes her wounds with coconut oil and natural remedies. 

Reptiles need love, too. “I’ve clipped iguanas’ nails and a savannah monitor lizard’s. I also do cats and small animals. I’ve given a pot-bellied pig a bath.” 

Lifelong client. “I was on my way to my grandmother’s funeral a few years ago when a co-worker called for help with a very difficult Shih Tzu. I circled back. First, I had to calm myself down. Then I could calm him down. He’d been nicked by a groomer at a different salon and clippers were his worst nightmare. We got through it, and I went to the funeral. I still groom that dog to this day, 7 years later.”

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