The What: Quinn’s grooming experience
Quinn FINALLY went for a haircut. That’s him up there, post-shower and touch-ups. The entire experience took roughly 2 hours, and it was both reassuring and extremely heartening to see my baby boy being taken care of with such expertise.
Situated at 266 Joo Chiat Road, it’s a quirky little place that smells of air purifier and freshly mown grass. Or perhaps that was Quinn rolling about in the grass prior to his grooming session. Hmm.
You’d notice that Bubbly Petz had rid their workstations of the dreaded neck loops, utilised by usual grooming salons to intimidate the dogs and to get them to remain obediently atop the high tables. But have no fear: Dogs put atop the table are monitored at all times, and in the event of an emergency or an unexpected phone call, they’d be taken immediately off the table.
I met up with Desmond last Monday, and he was nothing but affable. His 10 dog-grooming awards, his charitable soul and insanely over-the-top laugh aside, he also extremely gentle with Quinn (which really laid my previous clipping-Quinn’s-nails-till-they-bled worries to one side).
Coupled with his partner and Bubbly Petz’s co-owner Maeve Suar, Desmond runs the shop with the help of his trustee team; consisting of himself, Maeve, Yan and Jeslyn. They’re a dynamic bunch, often cracking jokes and exchanging witty repertoire (hello Singing in the Rain!). With the team sharing a high level of compassion towards animals, it was one of the most important things that Desmond and his partner ensured was consistent throughout the team during the hiring process.
“It’s all about the values that each person has, and the way that they treat animals and how they think for the animal, and how they think they should be treated. The team we hired had all the same values as the vision we set for Bubbly Petz – It’s all about good synergy here, to keep things running well.” – Desmond Chan, Head Groomer.
The son of conservative parents, Desmond was raised in an environment that embraced steady pay checks and white-collared jobs. With a degree in Economics and Finance, he first wielded his first electronic pet shaver whilst still in University. Propelled by a rough experience at the groomers, in which his dog returned unresponsive and inconsolable, Desmond first answered house call grooming for the first two years of his career, before eventually setting up Bubbly Petz.
“I realised that working at a pet store wasn’t what I really wanted to do, and there were certain things I didn’t agree with. Like putting dogs in cages – This only increased their stress, and it was hard to win their trust back.
I once had a huge Mongrel come in for a grooming session – he was a big one, almost 30kg – not only was he traumatised from a past grooming experience, but he even came in expecting to be mistreated again. He snapped when he was approached and it took a lot of time and patience to win his trust back again. We usually associate grooming with treats and nice things, positive things, to win their trust again.”
The grooming process
It was the usual grind:
Final Words of Wisdom from Desmond Chan
1. Get up close and personal with your pets during grooming
“This is to understand how your pet feels and behaves during each grooming session. If your pet has physical and mental issues, especially during stressful activities like grooming, it is important to be updated.”
2. Cats need to be groomed too!
“It’s a huge myth that cats don’t have to be groomed, just because they lick themselves. A proper cleaning is needed to improve their standard of living, as they will swallow lots of their own hair over the years which may lead to unnecessary buildup in their stomachs. Especially for long-haired cats, they have bad fur balls and bad matted hair, which may lead to bacteria infections as the skin can’t breathe.
We need more awareness (in Singapore), to get people to know more about their pets.”
3. Don’t punish, be positive
“We never have to be mean to our pets when they’re being disobedient. I don’t believe in (things like smacking and punishing pets). I try to do more humane training. For example, if my pets were to do something bad, I would either ignore them till they make amends, then praise them for it.
Counter-conditioning is also a great way to rehabilitate dogs that are constantly afraid, or painfully shy. I would typically execute a command during (fearful) periods, one that they would obey, and praise them for it. Simple things like asking them to sit. After a while, they’d get desensitised and focus a lot more on the treats and praise they’re getting.”
4. It’s all about what’s inside
(Let’s out a nervous chuckle) “There’s no such thing as the ultimate cute dog. I have no personal favourites. Cute comes from the personality, and not how dogs look on the outside, or what breed they belong to. It’s all the same to me.”
Keen? Check em’ out here!