Owner and Certified/Insured Professional Pet Groomer
It may sound cliche, but Leanne Robinson truly is a lifelong animal lover.
Growing up on her family's large acreage in Manitoba Beach, MB, they always had dogs and cats. The year she turned seven she joined 4-H and began raising rabbits. She sold the baby bunnies to families and pet stores. Soon, demand for her healthy, home-raised bunnies grew and she expanded to include chinchillas, hedgehogs and short-tailed opossums.
A voracious reader and researcher, young Leanne learned everything she could about her small charges over the next few years. Many people contacted her to inquire about the proper care of small companion animals. They were shocked to learn that they were speaking with a young girl!
By the time she was a teenager, Leanne's menagerie had expanded to include a rescued pot-bellied pig, some goats, chickens, sheep and other farm animals. Ever the entrepreneur, with her father's help, she took them to local events where she would set up a petting zoo, to raise money for their care.
The year she turned 17, Leanne came to visit her aunt in B.C. She fell in love with Vancouver Island and, because the family farm was being sold, re-homed her animals and re-located to the Comox Valley. She completed her education at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School.
After graduation, Leanne was hired to work at the Courtenay PetLand Store, where she quickly advanced to the position of Store Manager. When Petland closed in 2011, she was hired by Van Isle Veterinary Hospital as an Animal Care Aid and Receptionist. (She still works at the vet clinic part time.)
Van Isle Vet provides some veterinary care and grooming services for animals awaiting adoption at the the Comox Valley branch of the BC SPCA. Learning to groom animals from the SPCA , as well as clients' pets, Leanne discovered a passion for pet grooming. She had truly found her 'niche', saying that this is the most personally gratifying job she has even done in the animal industry.
Leanne registered with the BC-based JKL Dog Grooming School, completing their six-month on-line course in just three months, and then job shadowed for several weeks with a Certified Senior Dog Groomer for her apprenticeship. Her home-based grooming salon opened for business in November 2015.
Certified/Insured Professional Pet Groomer
Don’t let her age fool you!
When it comes to creating something magnificent out of a ball of fur and fluff, Baylee Balon, surpasses expectations!
“I love the scissoring side of things – shaping and angles – that first line down the back of a standard poodle makes me excited,” exclaims Baylee.
Much like Leanne, Baylee grew up on an acreage and has been an animal lover forever. Surrounded by a variety of four legged creatures from dogs to pigs, lizards, snakes and all things feathered; her natural instinct was to begin with a veterinarian courses.
It didn’t take long, however, for Baylee to change direction once she discovered the creativity and gratification involved in grooming, she says, ‘thanks to Leanne.’
Baylee has known Leanne through her parents for the past eight years. After seeing the ‘magic’ that grooming offered, she began apprenticing in June, 2016 and after over 90 hours, earned her JKL Grooming Certification in December of 2016. Baylee shares one of the favorite parts of the job with this true tale. “When she, (a standard poodle client),… jumps up on the table, gives kisses and truly loves the groom, well, that’s more rewarding than anything,” says Baylee as she describes her proud patron standing there “like a little show dog.” Baylee adds that although her love of grooming has a lot to do with the animals, it’s about the owners too. “It really interests me in not only meeting new animals, but in meeting new people as well,” adds Baylee.
Certified/Insured Professional Pet Groomer
***Cara will be on maturity leave
starting Jan 17th 2020***
That moment when…
Some passions in life are obvious from the time we are barely old enough to walk, and others hit us smack dab in the middle of a leisurely stroll past an interesting shop window with our fur baby. That revelation happened to Cara Guidolin, Dog Groomer and Trainer.
“It was my own dog, an ‘acquired’ black lab. We lived next door to a daycare groom shop and it hit me! I wanted to try that,” says Cara.
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to Cara though, since she grew up on a farm in Saint Germain, Manitoba, surrounded by horses, chickens, dogs, cats and the emus next door.
“I always, always loved animals,” said a beaming Cara.
Cara relocated to Victoria, British Columbia in April 2001. She was drawn to the community, the culture and the mountains, and began grooming in 2002 after training at The Barking Lot in Oak Bay, Victoria in 2002. To add to her expertise, Cara attended dog training school in 2004 at Canwest kennels in Salmon Arm. Cara explains that utmost importance when grooming involves intuitively understanding the needs of the animal, and open communicate with its owner.
Cara has intuitiveness and years of experience when it comes to understanding the needs of an animal. She successfully operated her own store, Top Dog Daycare and Spa, in 2005 and worked with fur babies until the birth of her son, Sterling, in the Summer of 2014.
“I find it rewarding when a dog comes in, for example, that is not touchable and figuring out why. This is about establishing a non-verbal relationship of communication and trust with the animal. It’s an exchange of energy,” said the passionate Cara.
She emphasizes that understanding the animal, and its emotions and behaviors is particularly important, and being able to communicate the animal’s needs to its owner.
“I love it, then seeing the dog content, rushing up to you, and that incredible element of joy,” exclaims Cara. When asked about grooming challenges, Cara says that sometimes grooming a senior arthritic dog that can’t hear or stand can be stressful for the animal. That’s where not just superior grooming skills are important, but open communication skills. These are key for a happy animal and a satisfied client.
Cara loves grooming all dogs and cats, and enjoys meeting new fur pals, but when asked what she considers her ‘specialty,’ she says Airedales, and all Terriers. For terrier breed clips, Cara enjoys doing a clipper breed cut or hand stripping. These cuts retain the true look of the breed and help maintain a tidy harsh outer coat and its rich, bright color.
Besides the obvious art of grooming, the multi-talented Cara weaves and knits scarves and dishtowels available at the Rusty Rooster in Cumberland. From the people, their fur babies to the art that’s everywhere, she enjoys and embraces everything about her community.
“The Valley has so much to offer and has that small town feel,” adds Cara.
Cara started working at Dodge City Grooming, on January 3, 2018. She will be available by appointment only, please feel free to call book online.
Certified/Insured Professional Pet Groomer
Show and Tell
“A very recent client brought in a rescue – a husky – who was very nervous, jumpy and a little scared. The dog, however, did amazing - and the client, who’s a groomer herself - was so happy she hugged me! That’s a gift in itself,” said Charissa MacDonell, Dodge City Grooming’s newest addition to their grooming team.
Charissa, who’s been grooming for 20 years, finds it rewarding creating the transformation of a scruffy dog into well-primmed animal who will have a much better chance at being adopted and having a new life as a family’s adored fur baby. When it comes to transformation, Charissa knows her stuff and it shows in more ways than one!
“I got my first show dog at 13 years of age. It was a chow named Bunny, and she took America’s Best Junior Handler, Best Female out of 80 entries! I handled her myself,” says Charissa. Then in 1999, Charissa decided to expand her horizons after taking courses from a master groomer on the Olympic Groom Team.
With her natural love for animals and the art of grooming, she’s in the perfect profession. Adding to her talent, is her expertise in show dog grooms. Growing up in Edmonton with a mother who regularly won in American Nationals with her purebreds, Charissa knows how to handle and run with the pack when it comes to that specialty groom!
“Because I ‘show,’ I prefer to do cuts to the breed standard. I love taking that dog and creating that perfect ‘picture,” says Charissa. She describes it as extremely gratifying, and adds her favourite part is “the look on the client’s face when they see their dog and how it looks totally different!”
Charissa also expresses how important it is for people to give their canines regular grooms. Besides the obvious comforts regular grooms provide, she says that sometimes there can be a health issue that a groomer may come across and can let the owners know so they can get veterinary treatment before things progress.
Besides sprucing up your 4-legged family members, Charissa loves to travel and meet people with dogs with the same interests. With her mom judging and often travelling globally, Charissa has a love for travelling as well. When it comes to the Comox Valley, she loves everything about it; how friendly everyone is, and the fact that there’s so much to do.
With how much she enjoys the new digs and practicing her trade, this groomer’s road is paved with paw prints and she wouldn’t have it any other way!
“I love it, I don’t know or want to do anything else,” exclaims a smiling Charissa, clipper in one hand and a very grinning pup in the other.
Certification in process.
Insured Professional Pet Groomer
Waking up happy to go to work
Jessica Jeans has always loved animals and has been around animals throughout her childhood, but now she feels like she has found her perfect career! Jessica grew up near a dairy farm. She was immediately drawn to the animals, and would sneak into the barn at four years old to help her step-father milk the cows. She especially loved feeding the baby calves and playing with her little pet goat she named, ‘Greeny.’ Since those early years, she has worked in a number of roles that eventually brought her full circle to Dodge City Grooming and working with animals once again.
Jessica worked at McDonald’s for fourteen years in a leadership role, but it was in her job at Petland where Jessica and Leanne met for the first time 11 years ago. They worked together for three years. She enjoyed the teamwork and of course, working with the puppies, kittens and small animals. She didn’t know it then, but those years at Petland (and her friendship with another animal-loving colleague) would help define the dream career she would pursue later
“My epiphany came when I worked at Petland in the grooming section, and under the wing of the groomer there, trimming nails,” says Jessica and adds, “I feel like the tiny jobs built me into the person I am today – a hard worker,” she adds. It was Jessica’s work ethic and her obvious gift of animal handling that made Leanne think of contacting Jessica in August and
ask if she was interested in dog grooming. There was no question in Jessica’s mind, and she’s never looked back since. “It is so awesome to wake up every morning, and getting to do this job every day,” exclaims.
Jessica. She admits that she has really missed working with animals. Currently, Jessica apprentices under Leanne and Cara at Dodge City Grooming. She’ll be fully certified in April, but if the dogs could talk, they’d tell you that they already love her and her grooms dearly - with or without the paperwork. “She has a way with the dogs, especially those that are afraid or extra needy. They are drawn to Jessica, it’s quite amazing,” says Leanne Robinson, Owner and Operator of Dodge City Grooming. And it’s not just dogs that are enjoying her magic touch; Jessica has a real knack for handling and comforting small animals.
Jessica’s favourite part is the feeling of accomplishment when she grooms a dog and sees the outcome. She describes it as “super rewarding.” She enjoys all of her four-legged clients, but
she is quickly developing a forte for the border collie/double coated dog grooming. “I love the animals, and I missed working with dogs. I wake up and know that I’ll make a dog happy,” says Jessica.
Currently, Jessica lives in Comox Valley with her fiancé Sheldon and two daughters, Lexi (8 years) and Arabella (4 years); their two guinea pigs; Momo and Winny, a big ragdoll feline named Winston. She is looking into adding a dog to their family clan in the near future.
Update Jan 2020: We have another groomer Cyan in training,
she will be joining our team in the spring.