Dog Grooming Success Stories

Meet Them Yourself!

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Ashley Baldwin

Ashley Baldwin has always adored animals, but in particular, dogs. She adopted her first puppy at 11 years old and has had dogs ever since. Ashley dabbled in various careers but never found happiness in any of them. She says, “I was just trying to find my way and still didn’t realize that deep down I really wanted to work with dogs.”

Her love for dogs was amplified when she acquired her fourth dog, Casey. Ashley found Casey at a construction site. She was malnourished, had worms and mange; she was just in all-around bad shape. Ashley nursed Casey back to health. Throughout Casey’s rehabilitation, Ashley realized that she was interested in grooming because she saw it as an essential part to keeping a dog happy and healthy. Once Ashley was committed to her new career path, she started scouring the internet and soon found ABC’s Pet Grooming Program.

Ashley knew that ABC was the perfect fir for her. “I love the freedom of the program and learning at my own pace and having my own personal coordinator that I can contact for any help I needed. I couldn’t wait for the hands-on portion. I interned at Dog and Company Pet Boutique where I worked side by side with the head groomer. She taught me everything she knew and is still teaching me today,” she comments. Once she completed her externship, Ashley was hired as a full time groomer at Dog & Co., where she continues to master the different aspects of grooming.

Ashley’s experience with ABC has been a rewarding one. She says, “I couldn’t ask for anything better in my life, I have everything I ever wanted. Each day there is something new and exciting happening. I have learned so much with ABC and I especially like the hands-on aspect of the program. Being an ABC Certified Pet Groomer has made me more conscious of the health and well being of not only my own dogs, but each and every one of my client’s dogs. It’s a rewarding feeling knowing that I can make a dog beautiful and healthy.”


Sonia Nathan

Some people are born knowing their career path while for others there is one moment that changes it all. Sonia Nathan, ABC Pet Grooming Program graduate, never thought she would work with animals, let alone become a professional groomer.

Before Sonia found her passion for grooming, she was a restaurant bookkeeper and teaching fitness classes on the side. Her life changed eight years ago when her children approached her wanting a family dog. When Sonia was a child, she was attacked by a pack of dogs and was hesitant to bring one into her home. She decided to overcome her fear and adopted a Standard Poodle. When Sonia met her new companion, she instantly felt a connection with the family’s new pet. She comments “I fell in love with dogs, and here I am today — a groomer. .”

Sonia began grooming her own dog and quickly moved onto working with a doggy day care as a bather. During this time, she also apprenticed at a local grooming shop and began her hands-on training as a groomer. Upon discovering her talents as a dog groomer, Sonia started researching grooming schools where she could hone her skills and learn new ones. ABC was recommended by multiple salons in her area. After completing the program, she began offering all grooming services to clients including clipping nails to breed specific cuts. Sonia says, “My grooming skills and knowledge of different breeds has improved tremendously because of the ABC program. The curriculum is excellent.” She adds, “I can execute proper grooming techniques for my clients and my referral list confirms this.”

Sonia currently resides in Brooklyn, NY where she works as an independent groomer and is constantly acquiring new knowledge of the field. She says “I am still learning. I love working with dogs and I am constantly improving my skills as a groomer. I love what I do, and my clients seem to love my work.”


Fashawn Burgess

Fashawn Burgess’ love for animals began with her father. He raised Labrador Retrievers for hunting and she enjoyed watching them work. She says, "We always had a dog and cat around the house to love and take care of." Fashawn inherited her father’s passion for animals and she started learning about dog training and grooming in 4-H. When she had mastered basic care and obedience, she moved on to showing dogs and eventually horses. Those early experiences with animals fostered what would become a lifelong passion.

In her early 20’s, Fashawn’s life took another direction than she expected. She got married and started working as a bus driver for children with special needs. She also became an art instructor and taught her students how to paint. However, Fashawn’s love for dogs never left her and after 27 years of dedicated service, she finally felt it was time to follow her dreams and pursue a career in the animal industry.

Fashawn always knew that she wanted to work with dogs and decided to become a dog groomer. She says "I didn't want to be a backyard groomer. I wanted to be trained in proper dog grooming." She began looking for a grooming school that would teach her the necessary skills she needed to become a successful groomer. Fashawn comments, "When I found Animal Behavior College I knew I had chosen the right program. It fit with my busy life and work schedule. I loved that I was able to work at home at my own pace. ABC was also very affordable compared to the other grooming schools.”

For Fashawn, the most exciting part of the program was the externship with a local groomer. She was able to put into practice the techniques she had read about in the curriculum. “I learned so much during the hands-on portion of the program. I truly feel that ABC has prepared me to be a professional dog groomer” she comments. After only a few months of interning at Sue's Small Stuff Dog Grooming, Fashawn was hired and is currently working at the salon. Fashawn's future goal is to combine her love of art through painting pet portraits and to have her own grooming parlor within the next 3 years. She hopes to share her talents and love for dogs with others.


Sandy Tate

Sandy Tate, ABC Dog Obedience and Grooming Program alum, did not begin her career in animal care until later in life. Before she was grooming professionally, Sandy taught high school English in Minnesota. She enjoyed her work, but her husband's job required the couple to move around the country constantly and it soon became difficult for Sandy to continue teaching.

After traveling for several years, Sandy and her husband finally settled in San Diego, California. She started looking for work as a teacher again only this time she would be giving lessons to puppies, not teenagers. Sandy got a job training puppies for a breeder. She comments, “I had no experience, but the breeder hired me and taught me to train. After a while, I noticed that there were holes in what I had learned so I decided to further my training with Animal Behavior College, where I graduated from their Dog Obedience Program with honors.”

Around this same time, Sandy and her husband decided they wanted to open their own business, but they could not settle on what it should be. They finally realized that the answer was an all inclusive dog care facility that included a doggie daycare, grooming, and obedience training. However, Sandy understood that she did not posses all the skills to operate the business of her dreams. She decided to go back to Animal Behavior College to become a certified pet groomer. Sandy says “For both programs, the home study worked very well for me and I loved that I was using actual books instead of doing everything on the computer. I was nervous about going into my externship, but everyone at the grooming shop where I was placed was very friendly, helpful, and willing to teach me. I'm happy to say that we still keep in touch.”

Once Sandy graduated from ABC's Grooming Instruction Program with honors, she moved forward with her business plan and opened Sandy Pawz Dog House. “We've been open a few months, and I'm happy to say that business is good and getting better everyday” she says. Sandy and her husband are preparing to open Sandy Pawz Dog House 2 in the near future.


Linda Sturges
ABC Groomer Instruction Program Student

Linda Sturges, ABC Groomer Instruction Program student, had worked in computers for over three decades when she decided it was time for a career change. “I was bored and frustrated with computers,” Linda said, “and I wanted something that I got some sort of emotional reward with that you don’t get with computers.”

One day, as Linda was passing by a Petco grooming salon, she got an immediate feeling that grooming was what she wanted to do. Having been an animal lover all her life, she finally felt that this was her future.

Although she knew she wanted to be a groomer, Linda was not satisfied with the idea of “learning on the job.” She felt that certification should be mandatory for groomers, and that it lends credence to the title “Professional Groomer.” So, she went home and began her search for a certified grooming program.

However, Linda was surprised to find most grooming programs were strictly online. “I couldn’t understand how you could learn about grooming if you were not actually grooming,” Linda explains. Animal Behavior College’s Certified Groomer Instruction Program’s online curriculum with a hands-on portion fit Linda’s query perfectly. “ABC’s program is so thorough, much more thorough than I was expecting,” Linda said. “And the fact that it has the internship is great. Other places only train online and I just don’t see how that works.”


Wanda Dorn
ABC Grooming Instruction Program Student

Wanda Dorn, ABC Certified Groomer Instruction Program student, fell in love with grooming as a teenager, when she spent the summer helping a family friend groom poodles. After high school, Wanda put her dream on hold when she got a job at Briggs & Straton, where she eventually became an electrician.

Wands spent her entire working career as an electrician and now that she is retired, finally has the spare time to pursue her first love, professional dog grooming. Even though she has prior grooming experience, Wanda wanted to find a school where she could receive official training and obtain a certification. “I knew that if I could go back to school and get some knowledge and hands-on experience,” Wanda explains, “it would give people confidence in my ability to groom their dogs.”

Wanda’s life is far from slow-paced; she lives on a 300 acre farm and keeps busy raising her three-year-old son. Because of this, she needed a grooming school that would fit her unusual schedule. “We have a campus near where I live that offers a pet grooming program. However, their program runs full-time, 7 days a week for 4 months,” Wanda said. “There was no way I would be able to it and take care of my son at the same time.” Wanda was determined to find a grooming program that included both book-study and hands-on training. She knew from previous experience that she would need both of these components in order to become a successful groomer.

When Wanda saw Animal Behavior College’s (ABC) Certified Groomer Instruction Program online, she knew she had found the perfect program. “Not only was ABC’s program more convenient because I could do it in-home at my own pace,” Wanda explains, “but it was half the price of the other school and included the hands-on portion I knew was vital to my success. Also, the books are great and the grooming tools they give you are top-notch!”

An honor student so far, Wanda is entering stage 5 of ABC’s 11 stage program, and is eagerly looking forward to the hands-on externship. Upon entering stage 10 of the program, Wanda will be paired up with a grooming facility near her home that will provide her with 100 hours of practical hands-on experience, training with a professional groomer. This is a priceless component of the ABC program and is what allows students nationwide a chance to gain real life experience within a program that is convenient; they do not have to find a campus near them in order to enroll in ABC’s Certified Grooming Instruction Program.

Wanda is excited to receive her Grooming Certificate so that she can start her own business. “This career is great because I can choose the hours that I work and how many clients I have, so I can literally work around my son’s schedule,” Wanda says. “I know I am going to be successful because people will feel confident about leaving their dogs in the hands of someone who has taken the time to get certified and gain knowledge prior to becoming a groomer.” ABC’s Certified Groomer Instruction Program is allowing Wanda to finally live out her life-long dream in the career she is truly passionate about, while still being able to take care of her family. For Wanda, this is a long-time dream come true.


Connie Troncale
Mentor Groomer

Animal Behavior College (ABC) is proud to introduce one of their future Mentor Groomers for the new Certified Grooming Instruction Program, Connie Troncale. Connie is the proud owner of Casa Bella Grooming Salon in Santa Clarita, CA. As a Mentor Groomer, it will be Connie’s job to work one-on-one with ABC grooming students in the hands-on externship portion of ABC’s Certified Grooming Instruction Program.

An avid animal lover, Connie always knew that she wanted to own a business in the pet industry. That opportunity came to fruition when the grooming salon her son, Nick, worked at was up for sale in 2006. Connie seized the opportunity and purchased the salon that she and Nick now run.

In order to boost her reputation and help her clients, Connie became an Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Obedience Trainer in 2007. Connie loved the whole experience she had with ABC. “The hands-on portion was excellent and the text was thorough, especially when it came to terminologies,” she said.

Since the pet industry is so large, Connie understands that she must stand out from her competition. Despite the harsh economy, Connie’s business strategies have helped her stay in business. Some of her secrets include stellar customer service and treating each pet like royalty. However, Connie believes that being a Certified Dog Trainer is the best way to differentiate herself from the pack. “Anyone who wants to do anything with dogs should also take ABC’s Certified Dog Obedience Trainer Program,” Connie said. “Learning to read dogs’ signals is extremely important for a groomer or pet shop owner since they come in contact with pets daily, often in a stressful environment, such as a salon,” she said.

Connie knows from experience that having a certification is essential for groomers and is looking forward to her up and coming apprentices. As a Mentor Groomer, Connie will be working with ABC students once they finish their online study of the ABC grooming curriculum. Once they have successfully passed all of their exams at home, local students will be assigned to Connie’s salon to work side-by-side with and learn from the professional groomers working there.

“Believe it or not, as lucrative as the pet grooming industry is, its hard to find good groomers,” Connie said. “It would be great to train up and coming groomers and then give them a job afterward if they want it. I am always open to hiring new groomers.”

All ABC grooming students are required to work in a grooming facility for a minimum of 100 hours where they will learn to hone all of their grooming skills from how to properly groom a dog/cat to how to successfully run a grooming business.

Although almost anyone can wash a pet, it takes knowledge and experience to be able to groom to breed standards, which Connie says many of her clients want. Animal Behavior College’s curriculum will teach students what they need to know in order to be a successful professional groomer including detailed grooming techniques and breed specifications. The ABC Certified Grooming Instruction Program is available nationwide and in all fifty states.


Cece Koplin
ABC Certified Grooming Instruction Program Manager

ABC is proud to introduce their new Certified Grooming Instruction Program Manager, Cece Koplin. Cece comes to ABC with over a decade of grooming experience and is eager to teach ABC students the art of grooming.

Cece first got her start in the pet industry as a teenager when she was hired as a horse groomer. It was at that point that she realized she had a gift for working with animals; she calls it a “gentle touch”.

Throughout most of her life, grooming was just a hobby to Cece. However, after working as a Vice President of Sales and Marketing for a computer company for several years, Cece decided to re-evaluate her career path and chose to dive back into the grooming world.

Cece diligently did her research and, using her natural gift with animals, created “A Dog’s Life Grooming Salon and Spa.” Cece’s salon employed twelve other professional groomers and was equipped with pet suites rather than cages for her clients.

Upon learning about the Program Manager position for ABC’s Certified Grooming Instruction course, Cece was intrigued. She loved that the ABC curriculum includes gentle grooming techniques and that she could be a part of teaching them.

Cece believes that having a certificate truly helps groomers attract customers and gain credibility for their business. “There are no licenses for dog groomers,” Cece explains. “So having a certificate from a college showing that you took the time to learn and research about what you are doing, really tells customers that you have the knowledge and training to handle their dog properly.”

Cece knows that when animals are well-groomed, they look and feel their best. Knowing that she is a part of this process is rewarding and teaching it to others is extremely fulfilling. Cece looks forward to helping you reach your goals of working with animals.


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