Dog groomer follows calling

Melissa Hadley stands in her Smithville salon preparing to groom a pet. Pet grooming can include bathing, clipping nails, cutting hair and styling.

SMITHVILLE — Melissa Hadley is owner of and groomer at A+ Pet Salon in Smithville, located at 207 U.S. Highway 169. Hadley’s passion for animals is what sparked her interest in grooming as a career.

“It was my love of animals and wanting to help them to feel better,” Hadley said. “I just really had a calling to work with animals.”

While she began her career decades ago as an apprentice, four years ago Hadley opened her own shop. While she has two dogs of her own, the groomer said she prefers short-hair breeds in her home because they require less grooming.

“They just get baths and nails,” she said. “After grooming all day, I really just want to give them baths and clip their nails instead of giving them hair cuts.”

What would surprise people most to learn about your job?

“It’s very hard work,” Hadley said, adding being a dog groomer requires heavy lifting, patience and a willingness to get bitten.

Would 10-year-old you be surprised that you are in this position or field?

“I always wanted to be a vet and a hairdresser,” she said of her career that sort of combines both of those fields. Considering a career in veterinary work and hairdressing, dog grooming seemed natural to her, she added.

What do you like best about this field or your job in particular?

“Probably the puppy kisses,” Hadley said.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

“Probably grooming hard-to-do dogs,” Hadley said, adding difficult dogs tend to be older or those who may tend to bite when in fear.

What’s the most common question you get about what you do?

“If we get to play with puppies all day,” Hadley said. The answer, “Absolutely not.”

Outside of the workplace, when you meet somebody new, what tips you off that someone is another dog groomer?

“Maybe the way that they talk to dogs,” she said. “There is just a certain way that dog groomers talk to dogs.”

What advice would you give to someone starting a job similar to yours?

“Be prepared for really hard work,” she said. “It is really rewarding work, you just don’t realize how hard it is until you get into it.”

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