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Imagine spending your childhood with an owl on the breakfast table. Or, seeing a deer in a playpen - not so unusual, but, in the living room? That’s how Heidi Cooper grew up, in a nature-loving family surrounded by pets. Abandoned pets ... Rescued pets ... Unwanted pets.
“I had an extraordinary upbringing which has attributed to my success in the pet grooming industry. Having hands-on experience with wild animals gives you such a deep respect and personal intuition of how sensitive animals are and how important it is to meet their emotional and physical needs in a positive and loving way,” Heidi says.
Needless to say, her familiarity and love for animals grew…and grew until she knew that this was what she wanted to spend her working life doing. Today, she has opened her own pet grooming spa, Bow Wow Beautiful, and knows the joy of looking forward to going to work each day.
It wasn’t always like this, especially when she was studying hard to get her degree in Psychology and waiting tables to earn a living. Opportunities surprise us when we least expect them, and it was no different when PetSmart needed a pet bather … no formal experience needed. That was no problem for Cooper who had everyday pet experience stashed under her belt.
Quickly adapting to new procedures, she learned on the job and soon received promotions eventually becoming a trainer, teaching others. There are never too many tricks of the trade to learn and share.
Living in San Clemente for 15 years, her daughter graduating from San Clemente High School, she saw her niche where she could offer her own brand of pet care. Encouraged by fiancé, Rob Meyer (her inspiration, she says) the hunt was on for suitable premises where she could establish her own reputation.
“Many of my existing clients have followed me here because they like the relaxed, happy, personal services I provide. My clients are like family and the pets are second children to me. As a groomer I can often spot health conditions in an animal that need professional care from a veterinarian. My hands are on the pet’s body and I know when a dog is sick; sometimes I find a lump or growth, which I bring to the owner’s attention.”
Being a pet groomer entails expertise in knowing the breed cut standards set for pure bred dogs, although not everyone needs specific styles and much depends on the season. For example, Poodles need hand-scissoring; Bichons need a lot of work. Award-winning Heidi smiles and says, “We’re happy to tailor grooming to you and your lifestyle needs”.
Some dogs get nervous when they go in for their grooming appointment. Putting a dog at ease once their owner has left the premises can be a challenge especially when he/she becomes unruly and unfriendly. This is when the staff helping Heidi - Christina, Veronica, Danielle and Kathy - band together and employ Dog Whisperer techniques if the animal becomes stressed during nail clipping or other personal procedures. A few Positive Affirmations later, they can resume the treatment on a calmer animal. There’s lots of love and attention in the air-conditioned salon, especially as the dogs are in an open grooming area where they have constant supervision and loving comments thrown their way.
The salon is meticulously cleaned each day by the staff. “We have concrete floors and holding crates so there is little chance fleas can take hold. When we find them on a pet, we take immediate action to eliminate them, although most owners treat their pets with oral medicine prescribed by the veterinarian so we rarely have a problem. Our adventure into cat-dom has been successful because we keep them totally separated from barking dogs in a soundproof area. I designed the layout of the shop to ensure that all of the animals are comfortable - this is very important to me. We handle cats very well and I can only think of two occasions when the temperament of the animal wouldn’t let us complete the grooming.”
Always concerned about the welfare of animals, Heidi has been a foster parent more than 11 times through the Animal Rescue Foundation and regularly donates her time and services to local animal welfare charities. When the time comes to adopt a new kitty, check with Heidi as she often has a couple of adorable ones in the shop.
“Dealing directly with the animal adoption organizations really opened my eyes to the importance of volunteering, and giving back to the community as a supportive voice for the welfare of animals,” she went on to say.
Members of her family unit include an American Staffordshire Terrier, “Sid,” Hairless Chinese Crested “Stella” and Boxer “Mr.Magoo,” and her love and pride show, just as it will when you take your pooch in to get glammed up - be sure and ask about the Blueberry Facial, for your pet, not you.
Contact Bow Wow Beautiful at
(940)702-3130 or visit the website