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The dog days of winter bring on opportunity

When many of us hear the word “downsizing” at work, it can lead to nervous tension and a sense of uncertainty.

For Lyric Pauley, however, that word has led to the opportunity of a lifetime. The 24-year-old has opened the doors to her very own dog grooming business in Elmira called ShamPoochies, a prospect that arose when her old boss uttered those fateful words.

“I always wanted to start my own business, ever since I got into dog grooming,” said Pauley. “When my boss told us she was planning on downsizing, we all said ‘Oh, well we better figure out what we want to do.’”

Pauley worked for five years at Pet-I-Care in Waterloo along with eight other employees prior to making the move back to Elmira, and she graduated from the Bryson Academy of dog grooming in 2005.

After looking at real estate in Waterloo, Pauley said she decided to return to her Elmira roots, where she spent most of her life growing up. She bought a house on William Street at the end of August, and set up shop in the basement that has been completely renovated.

But the move hasn’t been without its trouble. She had originally hoped to be up and running by the end of the fall, but delays forced her to hold off opening until the New Year.

“It’s taken us a lot longer than we expected,” she said. “I was hoping to be working out of here by the end of October or early November, but I just opened on Jan. 3. It’s taken a while.”

Pauley also said that she wanted to open her business in Elmira because she saw a need for her services in the community.

“Elmira is growing all the time, and I would definitely say there are a lot of dogs in Elmira. Every time I walk down the street I see a new dog.”

Pauley grew up in a home where there were never fewer than two dogs, so animals have always been a part of her life. Her mother also bred Wheaten terriers, so inevitably Pauley grew up wanting to be a veterinarian.

Once she was in high school, however, Pauley had a change of heart.

“I did a co-op here in Elmira, and it just wasn’t what I thought it would be,” she explained. Luckily, a teacher at EDSS knew of Pet-I-Care in Waterloo and that they happened to be looking for a co-op student. It was the perfect fit.

“I never, ever thought I would be a dog groomer, and I was surprised that it was so much different than I thought it would be, and I don’t know why. It was fun to go into work every single day.”

Pauley said that a combination of the friendly staff, her love of animals, and the fact that her job gives her a certain degree of creative freedom really attracted her to becoming a full-time dog groomer.

Once Pauley finished high school she attended the Bryson Academy with the promise of being hired upon completion of the program. Five years later, she says she’s learned a lot despite only being 24 years old.

“Some people think I might be too young to be able to do this job well,” she said, “but I’ve got a lot of experience.”

She says that her services are really geared to each individual dog, and she can handle dogs of nearly any breed and size. Every dog gets a bath and their nails trimmed, and the owner decides what type of haircut they want. She says that many opt for a simple short cut to get them from that visit to the next, and so they will look tidy and not have to be brushed every day.

An important aspect of her job that many people might not consider is customer service. After all, for many people their pets are like their children.

“They trust you with little members of the family, so they have to like you or they’re not going to bring their dog to you,” she laughed.

And while business has been slow to start, things have been picking up in the past few weeks now that people are more aware of her new location. Many of her Waterloo clients followed her to Elmira, and she has begun to make a name for herself among local dog owners as well.

One of the biggest perks of owning her own business, however, is setting her own hours.

“Right now I’m very flexible, but typically I’m in the shop and available to be grooming around 8-8:30 a.m. and I like to have everyone picked up by 6 p.m. at the latest. It’s great because I don’t have to drive into work if the weather is bad.”

WELL-GROOMED An animal lover at heart, Lyric Pauley – along with her Golden Retriever Bentley – has opened up the newest dog grooming shop in town, ShamPoochies. Below, Bentley reluctantly endures the process of being washed, dried, and having his nails trimmed.

Pauley can groom about seven small dogs per day, and slightly fewer large dogs, depending on the cuts. For now, it’s just a one-woman show at ShamPoochies, but she said if there was enough demand for her services, she may open another location and hire more employees.

After five years of sharing a work space with eight other groomers and countless dogs, she is enjoying the relative calm of working only for herself.

“There’s only so much I can do, but I like working for myself. It’s less busy, less stressful, and less noisy,” she said with a smile.

For more information, visit her website at www.shampoochies.ca.

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