Pawsitively Furst Choice Pet Grooming

Owning a small business is ‘paw’sitively rewarding

Photo and story by Kathy O’Reilly

When it comes to how she feels about running her own business, Sharon Magee doesn’t split hairs.

“I have loved doing this from the day I started,” says Magee, who owns and operates Pawsitively Furst Choice Pet Grooming in Sto­rey’s Beach.

The second career began as a way to supplement her in­come as an educa­tional assistant for School District #85. Having separated from her husband in 2012, Magee real­ized she could not make her mortgage payments on her EA salary alone. “I tried a variety of things and thought I might go into con­sulting,” she said.

However, having two dogs of her own that need hair­cuts, and seeing a need for the service in the community, Magee made the decision to become a groomer. In order to start up, Magee turned to Community Futures Mount Waddington.

“They were instrumental in helping me to start this busi­ness” and build her confi­dence to take the plunge. Not only did they supply funds, but a business plan template, and courses on how to start and run a new business. Family and friends, who have been excited “to see me make the journey”, have also encouraged Ma­gee.

Unable to get away for an extended period of time with her work commitments, Ma­gee first did an online course through JKL Grooming.

This included sending pho­tos of her work as she pro­gressed through the tech­niques and finally a video of a groom from start to finish in order to earn her diploma.

“Like any job, you need to continue on in your train­ing,” she said. Magee has done this by at­tending seminars on tech­niques, new tools, and styles, including annual ones put on by Mastergroom Canada. “I have learned so much by going to these functions.”

Networking is also an im­portant part of keeping up to date and sharing infor­mation. “It has been such a pleasure for me to meet other groomers who are like minded as far as the respect and professionalism that we bring to the industry. I have learned so much from other groomers and have made some very positive friend­ships by attending grooming events and seminars.”

In addition to grooming, Magee has also completed pet First Aid training, which she, fortunately, so far, has not had to use. “I haven’t had an emergency thus far in my shop, but because my hands and eyes are places where most owners don’t typically look at their dog on a daily basis, I have been able to let owners know if I feel a lump that should be checked out, skin abrasions that they hadn’t noticed, or an ear in­fection that needs vet atten­tion,” she said.

“I have had two cases that I know of so far that have saved the dog’s life because of lumps that were checked out after a groom visit and they did have to be removed and were cancerous, but caught at an early stage,” said Magee. “It’s really important for people to know that their pets are in good hands.”

Magee has now retired from her EA position and made the decision to expand last year by increasing the size of the shop, located in her home, getting in a big­ger wash tub to accom­modate large dogs, and purchasing new ken­nels to hold dogs while they wait.

Magee has a 40-year background work­ing with children and adults with disabilities. “I knew when I was a child that would be the di­rection my life would take, because I had such a passion for people that were vulner­able or faced life with chal­lenges to ‘fitting in’. “I thrived on seeing people enjoy new experiences and learning new perspectives in order to gain independence, and change challenging be­haviour issues,” said Magee.

When she began her new career as a dog groomer, it seemed like a good fit.

“I love the dogs that come through the door, the well behaved, and the ones that offer a bit of a challenge. I love the kisses I get when they are on the table, I appre­ciate the patience they have for having to stand for long periods of time, and the wags of the tails when they feel so good after they are finished.” Owners come in and tell the dogs how pretty they are and “it’s just rewarding to see the bond between dogs and their owners,” Magee said.

“So many things that they do are quite funny and ador­able. It is just such a great environment to work in. It’s really rewarding, that’s what brings me such pleasure, too.”

“It is just such a great environment to work in. It’s really rewarding, that’s what brings me such plea­sure, too..”

— Sharon Magee