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Practical Beauty

After a haircut, blow-out, and manicure, Bella was ready to go out on the town with me. The only problem was my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel now looked sleeker than I did, thanks to the detail-oriented students working at the Thompson School of Applied Science Grooming Shop.

Simulating a real-life dog grooming business, students in the two-year Applied Animal Science major - enrolled in the Small Animal Care concentration or Pet Grooming diploma program - learn all the skills and techniques to become a top-notch groomer’s assistant or groomer-in-training. Others wish to work in shelters or boarding facilities. Whatever their goals, these students do it all from booking clients, making confirmation calls, keeping records of vaccinations, managing a steady stream of laundry, keeping the facility spotless, and, of course, grooming dogs of all shapes and sizes with a wide variety of hair - and fur - care needs. In addition to bathing, scissoring, clipping, brushing and de-matting the coat, students also clean the dogs’ ears, trim their nails, and check for fleas and ticks.

Amy Huff ’13 greeted us at the entrance and filed Bella’s paperwork. Huff enjoys grooming, but would also like to be a dog trainer after graduation. “This is a good introduction to grooming,” she says of the hands-on program. “It lets you know if it’s something you want to do.”

Grooming Instructor, Chris Bohman (at right), prepares the students for their tasks.

Professional groomer and grooming instructor, Chris Bohman, has been with the Thompson School for the past eight years, guiding students through this living lab every Wednesday throughout the academic year from 12:30 PM to 5:00 PM. “It gives students a good foundation for experiencing the grooming profession,” says Bohman. “They gain a deeper understanding of animal health and care, and learn how to communicate effectively with owners about their concerns.”

Bohman is a graduate and award winning groomer of the Pedigree Career Institute. In addition to teaching, she owns and operates Luv’n Scrub Pet Grooming, LLC in Hampstead. Over the years, Bohman has had the pleasure of seeing a number of Thompson School graduates go on to open their own businesses in grooming as well. Her teaching assistant, Meg Borden ’07, is also the manager of Bark Now, a grooming shop in Concord owned by Thompson School alumna Chris Tripp ’07. “You really learn what you need to know here in order to go out and run a real grooming shop,” says Borden who felt well-prepared by her education for her current management role.

The Grooming Shop at the Thompson School is comprised of four rooms: the office, a holding area with stacked kennels and classroom space, a state-of-the-art tub room, and the grooming lab. With its high ceilings and oversized windows, the space is flooded with natural light. Padded rectangles and colorful animal tapestries hang from the ceiling to absorb the noise, which, surprisingly, comes from the whirr of dryers – not barking dogs. Most of the dogs are quite comfortable with being groomed and some downright enjoy the attention and massage.

This was only the first of many wonderful future appointments for Bella at the Thompson School’s Grooming Shop. Next time, I just might book an appointment with my own stylist on the same day, so I can be sure to look as good as my dog.

- Victoria Forester Courtland