When you love what you do, it usually shows.
And when you can combine not one, but two of your personal passions to create a business, that's bound to lead to positive results for everyone involved.
That's what Missy MacNutt has done.
She's combined her love of animals with her love of doing hair to establish The Dirty Dog Shop Bark, Bath and Boutique on Arthur Street.
"When I was younger, I always wanted to be a hairdresser. But after I attended a pet grooming volunteer day, I was hooked on working with pets. After graduating from Tailwagrrrs Professional All Breed Grooming program, I was employed with them in Halifax for three-and-a-half years. I worked with top groomers, teaching one-on-one, taking training classes, studying nutrition and working with dogs in the daycare before moving to Truro to open my own shop," said MacNutt.
Since opening her business a year ago, the response has been amazing, she said.
"I've had referrals from other groomers, vets and retail shops. I have clients coming from as far away as Halifax, Amherst and Bass River. And I've had customers tell me their pet has never run from the car to a groomer's shop before!"
About 70 per cent of the pets that come to the shop are dogs. Other animals who come in are mostly cats, although there are a few bunnies and ferrets too.
"I think much of the reason dogs like it here is that there are no cages, so they can stretch out on the floor or play a bit. Dogs who have fear issues often respond well here because we give them time to get used to the situation. It may take a long time to groom a dog that's terrified because you have to keep soothing them and saying ‘good boy.' Dogs also respond to body language so we make sure we're patient with them."
What does it take to be a good dog groomer?
"Well, obviously there's some skill involved, since you're using scissors on a moving target," said MacNutt. "But the number one trait that's so critical is patience. And a close second is a love of animals and an understanding of how they respond to people and situations. These animals are in a strange environment with strange procedures being performed like clipping and blow-drying, so you have to be calm and prepared to take whatever time is needed."
As a certified professional groomer, MacNutt notes "we operate under a code of ethics and attend workshops on an ongoing basis, because it's a continuous learning process. I also have amazing staff members, who are crucial to my business."
Being able to assess an animal's overall health is part of that learning process.
"You can tell if a dog's quality of health is low if he has brittle nails or greasy hair, for example. If we note issues like that, we give the owners options to improve their pet's health. Diet is an important part of an animal's overall health, and although marketing ploys have convinced many people that human food is a major no-no for animals, it can actually provide a lot of benefits if properly balanced."
And just like humans, pets have their fashion statements too. Stenciling, painted toenails, mohawk hair styles and more are all options that The Dirty Dog Shop can offer.
"We have products and services to match the needs of each individual owner and pet. Clients can relax knowing their best friend is receiving excellent care, love and attention while at the salon.
"It's important for owners to find a groomer they like and trust because if you're constantly making changes, that's hard on the pet. And since owners don't usually get to see what goes on at the groomers, they have to rely on their pet's reactions. I think it's essential to remember that there is always a human making the decision to bring the pet to a particular shop, and I'm extremely grateful for all my customers."
MacNutt would be happy to arrange a "meet and greet" for anyone interested in learning more about The Dirty Dog Shop.
"We'll discuss your needs and find the best solution for you and your pet," she said.