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Charly Haley, Published September 02 2012

It's My Job: Dog groomer says keeping pets comfortable is rewarding

FARGO – Sara Sjothun, 23, of Fargo, finds peace and relaxation in her job as a dog groomer at Fargo Boarding and Grooming Service, 4108 3rd Ave. N., where she grooms dogs and the occasional cat.

Q. Can you describe your job?

A. I guess what I do is, people bring in their dogs, and I groom them, which consists of trimming their nails, cleaning their ears. … Then I give them a bath, and I secrete their anal glands in the bath and I shampoo them, and if they need a haircut after the bath, then I give them a haircut. … I make them look nice and clean, and top them off with a bandana.

How long have you been a dog groomer?

I have been grooming dogs for two years now. I first worked for a place called Mobile Paw Spa (in Fargo), which was a dog grooming van. Everything was in the van, and we’d go to people’s houses and groom their dogs in their driveway. It was really fun. I enjoyed it a lot, and the lady that I worked for, she taught me everything that I know. So I worked for a year for her, and then I got a job here because she decided to move to Bismarck.

What is one of the oddest things you’ve seen in your two years of dog grooming?

I haven’t run into anything super strange, but as far as out of the norm goes, I guess one of the saddest things I ran into was when I groomed a dog once who was so matted, I started shaving off the mats, and he was actually bleeding under his mats because the hair, the knots, were pulling so hard on his skin that he had just patches of bloody – and I couldn’t even get into his ears because they were so infected. They were swollen so badly, that I couldn’t even get in there and clean them or anything. It was really quite sad. … But we got through it and I made him feel better, and it turned out OK.

Do you think pet grooming is something everyone should have done for their pets?

Unless they’re going to do a good job of doing it themselves. I have friends who know how to clip their dogs’ nails, bathe them properly, clean their ears – as long as you’re going to do all that for your pet, you’re going to keep them comfortable.

What are some of the best animals to work with?

I always love doing puppies. It’s good to get a puppy because I know I’m going to treat them nicely for their very first groom and make it a positive experience and make grooming not such a scary thing.

What made you decide to be a dog groomer?

I was in between jobs, and I saw an ad in The Forum, in the classifieds, and it was the Mobile Paw Spa lady. It said “dog groomer needed, no experience necessary.” … She chose me, she told me, because she grew up on a farm and she figured I’d have a really good work ethic. I guess I was iffy about it at first. I thought, “Am I really going to want to bathe animals all day every day?” But I’m like, “Well, I love them, so I’ll give it a try,” and I absolutely loved it. I found that peace of having to relax in order to do my job really well, and it just makes it into a really gratifying experience.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311