FROM cutting to shampooing SOPHIE BROWNSON ensures that dogs have the full works when she tries out being a dog groomer at Penylan Country Lodge in Caldicot for the day.

I CAN’T deny that I was a bit apprehensive when I was asked to be a dog groomer for a day.

Animals aren’t my forte, so when I entered the rather large grooming room to be confronted with numerous cages containing a variety of breeds it’s fair to say I was a tad overwhelmed.

But I was then greeted by senior dog groomer Beth Jenkins, who put me at ease and led me to a large table in the centre of the room where a beautiful King Charles spaniel called Alfie awaited my dog grooming ‘skills.’

Before I got stuck in, I asked Beth how she got in to the business.

“I have no formal qualifications in dog grooming, but I have worked with animals all of my life,” she said.

“Prior to this I worked in a vet’s and that gave me a lot of experience.”

Beth then talked me through the different jobs a dog groomer was expected to carry out which include trimming nails, cutting their fur, brushing, washing and drying the dogs, who all receive a complimentary bath before they go home.

I was then introduced to 20-year-old Tash Morgan who had been a dog groomer at Penylan Lodge for a year.

Taking charge, Miss Morgan explained to me that when each owner dropped off their dogs to be groomed, their dog would be allocated an individual card which specified how each dog should be cared for.

The card specified the type of breed, age and details of the owner along with details on what shampoos should be used depending on its skin type.

I was started off with the rather tame Alfie, much to my relief, who sat quite patiently on the grooming table waiting for me to begin.

Miss Morgan explained to me how each dog was safely secured to the table with a lead like rope clipped to a bar to ensure they wouldn’t jump off or be put in harm’s way if they got a fright or simply didn’t want to co-operate.

I ensured that Alfie was securely fastened before turning to look at his record card which showed he was an old dog who required special aloe vera shampoo to counteract his dry flaky skin.

I bore this in mind when I was shown how to use an electric shear to cut away the excess hair.

I used long strokes to cut away the hair after constant reassurance that ‘I would not hurt him’ from patient groomer Miss Morgan who remained on hand throughout the delicate process.

Alfie, who sat still throughout the process, made me feel more confident that I hadn’t put him through any pain.

After this I was shown how to brush the remaining hair out to get rid of the excess and was then asked if I would give him a bath.

I unclipped Alfie from the grooming table and carried him over to the bath in the corner.

I attached his lead to a bar next to the tub and gently placed him in it.

Before we began Miss Morgan said that she must check his ‘anal glands’ to ensure that he would be thoroughly clean.

Miss Morgan advised me it was not a pleasant part of the job and so I left it up to her to show me how it was done.

When she was sure he was fine, I squirted plenty of aloe vera shampoo for his dry skin on to his fur and massaged it in as I would my own hair to create a lather.

Miss Morgan then showed me how to switch on the shower nozzle and ensure that the temperature was neither too hot nor cold.

I then rinsed away the shampoo and wrapped a towel around the now rather shivery Alfie.

After patting him down with the towel I then carried Alfie back to the grooming table to be dried ensuring that he was safely fastened to the table.

Miss Morgan then showed me how to use the dryer – a huge nozzle like device called the blaster – and let me have a go at drying him off.

This was the most enjoyable part as it was the most straight forward and also the last part of my involvement in the process, as Miss Morgan clipped his nails, the more challenging job.

After the grooming was complete and Alfie was returned to his cage, Miss Jenkins explained to me how a variety of dogs were groomed on a regular basis.

She said: “The most common client we have is the Labradoodle who are high maintenance dogs and visit every four to six weeks. We get lots of pedigree breeds.

“We also have a regular client base with owners asking for certain groomers and bringing in their own shampoos – we see it all here.”