We asked one of Pune's leading pet groomers, Rupal Zingde, about Pune’s pet grooming industry and her experiences so far!
Rupal Zingde co-runs The Paws Pack as its Principal Groomer. We asked her some questions about her journey so far… here’s what she had to say!
1) How long have you been grooming dogs and cats?
Rupal: I have been grooming for close to a decade now!
2) We believe you studied for your BBA. Was it a hard decision to make a change?
Rupal: Actually, no -- it was a very easy call for me. But yes, my parents needed some convincing. 10 years ago, working with animals was not as popular as it is today. The industry was only just emerging.
3) What made you decide on grooming versus other careers related to animals?
Rupal: This is completely by chance! At that time, The Pawsh was being set up and when I was approached about considering grooming, I thought -- why not! I had not even imagined a career in animals until then. Of course, once I did the course I realized that this is something I could see myself doing for a long time; I had found something that I love and could be a career!
4) Where did you study and what course did you do?
Rupal: I did the course in Singapore at the Dog Care Grooming Academy. This academy is affiliated with the California Institute of Animal Aesthetics. I did the extensive three-month program, which is a complete dog grooming course and involved lots of haircuts and styling work. It was an awesome experience!
5) What does a day in the life of a groomer involve?
Rupal: Good question! It involves meeting some happy dogs and some nervous dogs; lots of licks and jumps are always a bonus. But you have to also be prepared for the unpredictable snap or pee! All in all, it’s a lot of satisfaction at the end of the day!
6) What is your absolute favourite breed to groom?
Rupal: Honestly, my favourite breed at the moment is the Indies! They are all so different in character, each of them has a unique personality. Lhasa Apso is another breed I enjoy grooming.
7) Any funny stories or experiences?
Rupal: So I always find it funny when owners tell me how temperamental their pet is for something like a nail clip or getting blow-dried and prepare you for the worst. But then the dog just proves the mom/dad otherwise and acts like a total pro for the session.
And of course, the time I got headbutted by Diana the Dane for cutting her nails -- one thing she just didn’t like!
8) How important is building a relationship with your clients?
Rupal: It is very important. That is a part of the job. You get to learn a lot about their pets, and in return, the clients also learn a lot about their pets from us. Things that they probably didn’t know their pets did. It’s those little stories that you share that help in building a lasting relationship with the client. My clients have to trust me -- human and dog. Without trust, doing what I do would be impossible!
9) What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue the same career?
Rupal: If you like the taste of soap and fur, definitely go for it!
It is not an easy job, that’s for sure. If you are focused and don’t mind some interesting smelling dogs then you’re in for a career of lots of licks and wags.
10) What are the dangers of getting pets groomed from unqualified and inexperienced groomers?
Rupal: A professional groomer knows when to stop a clipper, stop the scissors, give the dog some time to relax, watch out for stress signs, etc.
On the other hand, I’ve heard of unqualified people grooming dogs, the dogs getting clipper burns, cuts, and owners getting terrified about visiting another groomer as the previous experience was a bad one. So you should definitely check your groomer’s credentials!
11) The one thing they didn't tell you when you started?
Rupal: Oh, that I’d have to baby talk with the doggos, day in and day out -- people think you are cuckoo but it’s all worth it!
12) What’s the best part of this job?
Rupal: Working with all kinds of dogs and cats.
The satisfaction of grooming a pet who has had a bad experience before, but leaves your place feeling good and is even happier to come back the next time is unparalleled!