Dog groom­ing is in Lucy’s blood

Lucy Fos­ter has had many jobs over the years but says she was al­ways des­tined to be a dog groomer. She tells reporter Jess Lee what it’s like spend­ing your day sur­rounded by fur. DAILY GRIND

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Fluffy, mat­ted, long-haired, short-haired – Lucy Fos­ter’s clients come in all shapes and sizes.

The Re­muera res­i­dent found she had a knack for dog groom­ing when she was just 11 years old but it wasn’t un­til she was well into her 50s that she turned the hobby into a ca­reer.

The 70-year-old now owns her own dog groom­ing busi­ness in Eller­slie where each client is treated as if he or she is one of the fam­ily, she says.

It was her step­fa­ther who bought Ms Fos­ter her first dog, a golden cocker spaniel, with spe­cific in­struc­tions that she must groom and take care of it her­self.

‘‘I truly loved all the groom­ing, car­ing and train­ing,’’ she says.

‘‘I seemed to have a flair for han­dling dogs – they were my pas­sion.’’

She be­gan en­ter­ing her dog in com­pe­ti­tions, even­tu­ally bump­ing into his breeder who was less-than-im­pressed by the dog’s crimped do.

‘‘I used to wave his coat by kink­ing it all into waves af­ter his bath. The breeder got a ter­ri­ble fright, he was hor­ri­fied.’’

He soon set her straight on the cor­rect way to groom a cocker spaniel. Show­dog groom­ing was very dif­fer­ent back in the 1960s, she says.

‘‘We used to strip the spaniels by hand [pluck­ing out stray hairs rather than cut­ting], there were no ma­chines in those days.’’

She kept up the groom­ing as a hobby while work­ing over the years as a vet nurse, teacher, wages clerk and a drugs coun­sel­lor.

It wasn’t un­til she met her nat­u­ral fa­ther later in life that she dis­cov­ered it is in her blood. He and his mother bred and groomed dogs.

Ms Fos­ter’s team do ev­ery­thing from dog washes, de­mat­ting and nail clip­ping to scis­sor­ing breeds into dif­fer­ent styles.

Groom­ing your dog used to be seen as a lux­ury but it is now con­sid­ered much more of a ne­ces­sity, she says.

While in her care dogs are given lots of hugs to make them feel less ner­vous and they re­spond with lots of ‘‘kisses’’, she says.

But it’s not all fun and games.

Car­ing for other peo­ple’s four-legged friends can be phys­i­cally de­mand­ing, es­pe­cially lift­ing large dogs.

‘‘Some will roll on their backs or lean on you and won’t stand up,’’ she says.

‘‘The hard­est part is dry­ing the dog be­cause most of them don’t like that. We have a va­ri­ety of blow­ers so they don’t get scared.’’

It is ex­pe­ri­ence and a car­ing na­ture which make a good dog groomer, she says.

‘‘I’m a truly blessed per­son say­ing I’ve got a job that I love. It has gone be­yond my ex­pec­ta­tions.’’

Photo: JESS LEE

Pam­pered pooch: Lucy Fos­ter grooms her client Mad­die.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to watch a video of Lucy Fos­ter groom­ing a dog.

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