“Dogs love you,” said Sondra Wentz, grooming salon leader at Petco’s pet care center in Chaska. “There’s nothing they don’t love about you. They’re happy to see you, happy to be with you. And I feel the same way about dogs.
Sondra loved dogs long before she had one of her own. She spent many nights in her dog-less childhood home poring over the American Kennel Club encyclopedia, learning about the basenji’s ideal shoulder proportions and the German shepherd’s characteristic scissor bite. If a neighbor brought home a new dog, they could count on Sondra to ring their doorbell within five minutes. And she was more than welcome, for she would walk anyone’s dog in exchange only for the dog’s company.
What does an inveterate dog lover do once they enter the workforce? Sondra went to the Petco in Eden Prairie to become a dog stylist.
“It’s my favorite thing ever,” said Sondra. “Helping dogs look and feel good is all I’ve ever done for a living, and it’s all I believe I’ll ever want to do. Petco’s four-month training program flew right by, which is when I learned how to bathe dogs, trim their nails, clean their ears, use the right shampoos and conditioners for each hair type, and even express their glands – a process I don’t imagine anyone wants to read about in a magazine. Every day was a little bit different with new breeds, routines and haircuts. That’s heaven, when you’re a dog lover like me.
“Dog grooming still feels fresh after so many years. In a single day I might give an English springer spaniel a full shave-down, a standard poodle a lamb cut complete with big, fancy pom-poms, and an itchy old English bulldog a soothing oatmeal bath. Or I might just give a golden retriever a quick nail trim and brush the mats out of his fur.
“But if I’m really lucky, I’ll get a goldendoodle, whose light, fluffy hair makes the perfect canvas because you can do just about anything with it. An adventurous goldendoodle owner is my favorite kind of customer!
“Of course, some dogs don’t enjoy this as much as I do. That’s what two of the dog groomer’s greatest tools are for. A few treats are usually all it takes to convince a dog that you’re not trying to hurt them. (We ask the owners if treats are okay before administering them.) If a dog stays nervous, I pull out the big gun: baby talk. ‘Oh yes, aren’t you a good girl! Yes you are! Yes you are!’ That’s enough to make even the most skittish dogs start wagging their tails.
“One of the best parts of this job is watching the owners’ reactions to their ‘new’ dogs. They’re always so ecstatic to see them so nice and clean, with cute round faces and nothing stinky about them. Many of them also tell me they’re grateful for not having to vacuum so often.
“Cats? We certainly groom cats beautifully here at Petco, but I haven’t worked with one myself. It takes a special kind of person to groom an animal with less patience than a dog. I do know their stretchier skin makes a cat harder to shave, and that you definitely want to trim their nails first – before it occurs to the cat to use them.”
If you would like to have your dog groomed by someone as passionate as Sondra, then you only have to yell “Go for ride?” and drive to 8020 Glen Lane. There a Petco groomer will examine your bewildered pooch from tail to snoot, advise any special treatment they might need, and then offer an affordable package. Learn more about Petco’s grooming services or book your pup a pampering session at petco.com/grooming.