Celebrating Joanne

"Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.” –George Eliot.

This is a line that Urban Paws' Senior Groomer, Joanne, wholeheartedly agrees with.

As an introverted teen, Joanne was often picked on by nasty bullies in school. She became depressed and would even cut classes to escape them. Her only solace - Blackie, a dog in a shelter she regularly volunteered at. Upon completing her studies, she was determined that whatever she did, she would want to work with animals and pay forward the companionship and love that Blackie had shown her during her darkest days.

Fast forward to 2020, Joanne has made good on her promise to herself. She has built up an impressive grooming portfolio (recently attaining her certificate in the Asian Fusion Cut) and expanded her heart to include pets from chinchillas to birds. Joanne is a big believer that grooms are essential to the urban pet's physical, emotional and mental well-being. She strives to make grooms as comfortable as possible for the furkids under her charge.

Despite her busy schedule, she often visits Blackie who is now in her twilight years and tries to offer her the same solace her loyal canine friend had shown so long ago.

Get to know more about Joanne below!

Tell us about your grooming journey

My grooming journey has been filled with a lot of "Should I"s. Many times, I've wanted to quit this industry because it can be very tough mentally and physically. There are also times when I've met awful people in the industry who put me down with their words or unreasonable customers (though most of my customers are super nice), but my regular customers (dogs and humans alike), my family and boss have been amazing and so supportive, they are what push me to pick up the scissors everyday, despite the bumps.

There's so much to learn about grooming, there will never be a time when a person can

fully say that they know everything about grooming,

so my grooming journey is far from over,

lots of things for me to continue learning!

Describe your most memorable grooming session

Oh, it's got to be this aggressive Japanese Spitz dog. The owner had warned me beforehand that a few groomers had rejected him as he was would snap at the groomer. While I was filled with trepidation, I felt, and still feel, that every dog deserves a chance, and if I didn't at least give him a chance, who would? So, I told the owner to leave the dog with me and I would give it my best shot.

When she brought the spitz in, I could tell from his eyes that he was fearful in the extreme. He didn't sniff my hand nor check out our space, just backed away into a corner while fixing me with a suspicious glare. I left the dog to roam the studio while I groomed another dog. I knew it was important that he got to know our grooming studio on his terms.

After 2 hours, I went to check on him. Unfortunately, he was still aggressive and reluctant to trust me. I sat down. His curiosity finally won out his fear and he sniffed me cautiously. I allowed him to approach me, all the while cajoling him. He finally let me touch him after an hour of negotiation. No bites! The feeling was truly sweet! I picked him up and put him on the grooming table and I knew I had won the battle for his heart, haha. During the whole grooming session, he was relaxed and showed minimal aggression. #win

After his groom, he ran around the shop, played with me and give me a ton of kisses. He trusts me a little more everytime he comes in for a groom and spa. While these sessions are still not a walk in the park, I believe we are getting there!

Describe your grooming style.

I wouldn't say I have a specific grooming style, but I try to make sure that whatever style I create for a dog is pleasant to look at and suits his lifestyle as well as his owner's schedule.

For instance, if a dog's owner has very little time to brush his dog's coat, I would advise them to go for a sporty, easy-to-maintain style, rather than a gorgeous flowing coat. It is important to me that a dog's holistic welfare is placed above how he looks.

What has this year of Covid taught you?

This year has taught me to be grateful. Grateful for simple things like my health, grateful that I get to work in a field that I'm passionate about. It also taught me that life is so short and we never know what may happen tomorrow. Just like that, everything - even simple things like eating out - can be taken away.

We are almost at the end of 2020. How would you describe your past year?

2020 has been challenging. Completely ceasing grooms during circuit breaker and then having to rush like mad to service all the heavily matted up, dirty pets was incredibly challenging. But at the same time, it has been a very exciting year for me as I just got myself 2 parrots after many years of consideration. Looking forward to going into 2021 as a bigger fur-and-feather family, haha!

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