Candidate Case Study - READ ME!
Former catering manager Clare Queen-Shaw, 38 from Carlisle decided to quit the rat race of her stressful job and fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a dog groomer, during the pandemic!
Clare is studying at Four Paws Groom School in Cheshire for the iPET Level Three Diploma in Dog Grooming and Salon Management.
What made you decide to take the plunge and study to become a dog groomer?
I've always wanted to work with dogs, dogs are my happy place and I've always got on better with dogs than people.
Me and my husband have two British bulldogs and they are our babies.
I've wanted to be a groomer ever since I was a child, but then I think like many people life takes over, and my dream got a bit sidelined. I went into catering, and worked for 22 years at the local factory, eventually becoming the catering manager.
While I loved the team and everyone that I worked with, I have worked with those people for most of my life and it's like a family. But the management side of the work was really stressful, but it was what I had worked towards so I didn't realise straight away that it was making me ill. But I was getting depressed.
I know the signs when my depression is getting worse, and I was doing all the usual things that I do to fix it, but nothing was working so I knew that it was my job.
Just before the pandemic started me and my husband went to Crufts and we saw the Four Paws Groom School stand.
I was talking to Sarah about the course and something just clicked in my head and I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to be doing. The pandemic isn't stopping my achieving my goal, and I'm actually grateful in a way, because these lockdowns mean that the course is lasting a bit longer, I don't want it to end!
Why did you want to get a grooming qualification and why did you choose Four Paws Groom School?
I choose Four Paws Groom School and the iPET Network course because the training is very hands on, but the course materials and work is also really in-depth and well structured.
Over the years this has always been my dream and I could have done dog grooming at a local college. But because this is the best course provider closest to me I actually travel two and a half hours and stay overnight to attend Four Paws, and it is really worth it.
I know that grooming is an unregulated industry and I find that really shocking. I chose to do my qualifications because I want to be the best I can be.
You are looking after other people's babies, that is a very big responsibility and it is very important to get it right.
Doing the course makes you realise just how much there is to being a dog groomer. It's not easy and when you see the trainers in action you realise how much it takes to be amazing, it's really inspiring.
It must have been scary to start training after more than 20 years in the world of work, please talk me though your first days at Four Paws Groom School?
I was absolutely terrified! I'm quite an open person, because of the job I was in I talk to people quite easily. My biggest fear was not liking it, this had been my dream for so long and if I didn't like dog grooming I wouldn't have a dream anymore!
I was also worried that I wouldn't be able to do it. But from that very first morning I knew that I would love it, and all the trainers are so supportive and we all get on so well.
On an average day we get allocated a dog, and these vary because we have to do different breeds and coat types. But sometimes you get a dog in that's a dog you love, and if you plead they do let you groom them!
Then, there is time made for theory work as a group. On my first day I had my induction and then I was washing a dog straight away. I didn't expect it to be so hands on, but it really helps to build confidence. It is just like you are working in a groomers.
Of course you have the supervision of the tutors which is a brilliant safety net, offering hands on support in a really kind way.
The tutors are amazing and you couldn't ask for nicer people. From day one I felt comfortable. When you have scissors and are working on someone else's dog you can't stick the hair back on! But they never make you feel stupid.
We really are learning from the best, but nothing is too much trouble.
What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a dog groomer?
I would 100% recommend it, it is scary to change careers after all this time, but a lot of people I have met through this are very similar to me.
I have found that there is a lot of people who worked in management.
They have spent their youth working their way up, and then they got there and thought 'I don't actually want this, it's not worth the stress and the impact on my health'.
I would say go for it, because it is the best thing I ever did.