Nguyen Xuan Loc offers a home care spa and grooming service for pets, including massage, skin and coat care, and application of essential oils and perfume.
The 21-year-old Vietnamese man believes it takes a passion for pets and a great deal of skill to be capable of the job.
Local pet owners tend to address their much-loved animals as 'bosses.'
With Loc’s services, these tiny bosses get treated right at their own homes.
A demanding job
There are pet spas around Ho Chi Minh City, but Loc is one of the few to provide pet care at home.
He wants his clients to enjoy a convenient service and a relaxing experience.
However, that means more is demanded of him.
While pet spas house adequate facilities for all tasks, the home-based service that Loc provides prompts him to quickly find his bearings in the client’s home settings, especially the water system and bathroom.
Also, he has to master a limited set of tools and how to work with minimal supplies.
“Such demands help me become more flexible. I’ve accumulated great experience taking care of pets at their own homes,” said Loc.
“To best prepare myself, I have to figure out the precise needs of my clients. I try to minimize errors at work.”
According to Loc, core tools for this service include a proper hairdryer, hair clippers, scissors, nail clippers, and cleaners for ears, the mouth and eyes, most of which are portable for door-to-door service.
For stylist grooming, Loc insists the job be done at a spa facility rather than at home.
To do a good job, dog groomers have to understand customers’ needs as well as the specific characteristics of dog breeds such as their fur conditions.
Most importantly, they should know how to approach a pet in a way that avoids hostile reactions.
“With pets that are sick or aggressive, we have to reject our clients,” he added.
Different dog breeds are groomed in different ways. Poodles, for example, have to be groomed with a sense of balance around the head.
“Therefore, grooming professionals have to stay focused and be patient. They have to be familiar with tools, scissors in particular, so as to meet the customers’ requirements,” Loc emphasized.
Trouble in this kind of work is the norm, despite meticulous preparation on the part of Loc’s staff.
Before taking a job, they check the pet’s vaccination records. Also, they have to be ready for scratches or nips at any time.
In general, dogs are friendlier than cats.
They are not afraid of water, which makes them easier to handle, he said.
A passion for pets
“I’ve raised a French bulldog for two years, so I’ve researched best practice in taking care of these friendly animals,” Loc said.
For months he was browsing websites and following Instagram accounts to learn grooming techniques as well as pet care practices.
The more ‘bosses’ he gets to serve, the more anecdotes he collects.
Certain ‘bosses’ are easy to deal with and highly cooperative, but some can be really tough. Sometimes it takes half a day just to get to know the pet and groom it.
For safety reasons, Loc and his groomers protect themselves with face masks, gloves, and sanitary spray during their work shifts.
“It can be really exhausting at times. We may even have to skip meals,” Loc said.
“But we earn our clients’ trust. Some pet owners who use our service come from really far away. And some people even contact us for training.
“Those are the motivations for my career.”
The spa procedure that Loc and his team designed includes a basic health check, a paw, belly and anal hair trim, nail clipping and grinding, and ear cleaning.
Pets also get massage and proper bathing to eliminate bad smells and for softening their coat, with charges depending on weight.