It was 1988 that Darlene Westhaver opened her business Darlene’s Pet Grooming.
The past 29 years saw Westhaver operate from different locations; she has been at 710 Willow Street, Truro for the past five years but this is about to change.
“The owner of this building I have been renting, sold,” said Westhaver, 60, of
Manganese Mines. “I had to find a new location.”
Westhaver’s business is closed Dec. 24 through Jan.1 for the holidays and to accommodate the move. She reopens Jan. 2 at 261 Industrial Avenue in the industrial park.
“There’s a lot of work involved with changing locations,” she said. “Family and friends have been a big help. I believe it’s going to be a positive location in the Truro Industrial Park. Actually, I’m excited about the move – I’m going to make it work.”
Visiting Westhaver recently I watched as she groomed and trimmed Macgregor, a five-year-old Pomeranian. Westhaver was smiling and appeared very much at home as she worked with the small dog. Next, she groomed Molly, an Old English sheep dog – it was again obvious Westhaver loves animals and enjoys her work.
“Isn’t Molly beautiful,” said Westhaver. “Molly is owned by a good customer of mine, Diane McLeod of Truro. You meet some very nice people through pet grooming. I love it, I never get up in the morning minding coming in to work.”
As she continued to work with Molly, Westhaver shared another interesting aspect of her business.
“Conversations with customers are part of it. Some of the stories about animals that I hear from customers, they are really something. When people bring their pets to me, I want them to feel at home, they are welcome to visit and join in conversation. People seem to like this; they don’t want to be rushed out the door.”
Another thing I observed about Westhaver is she takes her trade serious.
“My own theory in life is when you encounter something you have an interest in, you should learn as much as you can about it. You should go all out, you should be determined. My customers are important to me – I appreciate people who travel here from such places as Mahone Bay, the Halifax area, Elmsdale, Stewiacke, New Glasgow, Oramocto, and P.E.I. I also have wonderful customers from Truro, Bible Hill and the local area. I try my best to look after all of them.”
Westhaver explained that over the years she has worked to further her dog grooming education. In 1994, she attended a grooming seminar in Newark, New Jersey; in 1996, she went to Toronto and was certified in terrier sporting and non-sporting groups of dogs by the National Dog Groomers Association of America and in 1999 she attended a grooming school in London, Ont.
“It was at Pets Beautiful,” said Westhaver. “It was the school of K9 grooming. I took the advanced course; it gave me my professional certificate which I feel is important to someone in the pet grooming business.”
Westhaver said dog grooming seminars have become more popular in Atlantic Canada in recent years.
“While seminars are very important, I also feel that valuable information can be picked up from other groomers.”
Westhaver has had some unusual experiences with pet grooming.
“The oddest animals I groomed were two chickens about four years ago. I’ve groomed guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, birds, even rats and of course lots of dogs and cats. I’ve been bitten, scratched and dirtied on but I love what I’m doing and I plan to continue. I guess I have a passion for animals.”
Westhaver was born in Bridgewater and moved to Truro with her family at age nine.
“My mom and dad always had animals; I was exposed to dogs and cats at a very early age. This possibly influenced me. As far back as I can remember I always had an interest and liked animals.”
Darlene and her partner, Murray Lewis, have a 60-acre farm at Manganese Mines.
Animals at the farm include saddle horses, miniature donkeys, chickens, dogs and cats.
Darlene has two grown daughters and four grandchildren from her first marriage. Her husband Russell Westhaver passed away in 1999.
Lyle Carter’s column appears every second Tuesday in the Truro Daily News.
If you have a column idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.