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Shoal Lake Groomer Caters To Man’s Best Friend

Dog ownership should not be a chore, but an experience that enriches your life and that of your dog. Meeting the basic needs to ensure health and happiness of your four-legged companion will keep the tail wagging.

Basic needs fall under the categories of proper nutrition, shelter, nurturing and physical maintenance of which grooming plays an important role. While you can learn to groom your dog at home, you may opt to find a reputable professional groomer, such as Reina Ross-Christensen, to establish a grooming regimen and stick to it.

The owner of Barkling Clean Dog Grooming and Pet Supplies in Shoal Lake moved back to Manitoba in 2007, along with her husband Henry, after spending 14 years on Vancouver Island in the Duncan area.

The pet-grooming business was a change of career for Ross-Christensen while living on the West Coast and running the financial aid department for Royal Roads University since its inception.

“I used to come home after a stressful day at work and relax by brushing out the dogs. I’d always wanted to run my own business but just could not put my finger on what I could do. I had encouraged my younger sister to do dog grooming years earlier not realizing that it was I who wanted to groom,” Ross-Christensen said. “Deciding to leave the university in 2004, I registered to take the Dog World Professional School of Grooming course that year, and upon graduating, there have been no regrets.”

The member of the Western Association of Professional Pet Groomers (British Columbia) as well as the Professional Pet Groomers Association of Manitoba offers full grooming at her business opened in April 2008 as well as a nail-clipping service.


Should you opt to groom your dog at home, here is some advice offered by Ross-Christensen who has been around dogs all of her life: Brush every day; clean ears every two days; never, never bath unless dog is completely brushed out; blow dry; seek professional help for clipping and if you suspect eye or ear infection, seek the help of a veterinarian do not home medicate.

As a professional groomer, Ross-Christensen feels that brushing and bathing at home is fine, but when it comes to clipping that’s another matter.

“Razor burn is serious and many ‘do-it-yourself’ home stylists don’t have the professional equipment to do a proper job without injury,” she said.

Looking to a professional groomer can be beneficial as there are over 500 different breeds of dogs, with each possessing different temperaments, different hair types, different styles (according to “breed standard”). Knowing how to handle your dog, what tools to use on what type of hair and what cut to give, how to handle pads and ears, are some knowledge a professional groomer has.

A full grooming session entails pre-cut, wash, blow dry, ears cleaned, nails clipped and finish grooming according to breed standard. Example: cocker spaniels have two kinds of cuts, a Pet cut and a Show cut while poodles have several cut styles.

Much like a hairdresser for humans, costs of services vary. From a dog standpoint, nails only can start at $15 and grooming prices (depending on the dog, breed and hair condition) can go as high as $150. And so does the time frame between dog sizes, however, smaller dogs are not always easier to handle over their larger counterparts, as one would think.

“Some large dogs absolutely love the attention… they will lie down and let you brush and clip all you want,” said Ross-Christensen, who is originally from the Sudbury, Ontario area. “I have a set policy for accepting large dogs, so I ask owners to call ahead.”

And for animals that may have a tendency to bite, safety is kept in mind through the use of a mussel and a leash.


With clientele being drawn from the local area, as well as far away as Churchill, Winnipeg and Saskatchewan, the Shoal Lake business owner looks at grooming as more than simply a snip here and a snip there.

“Grooming is an art form. Hand blow drying instead of cage drying, scissor cutting instead of full clipping, getting the right lines, curves, which features to accentuate, which features to hide.”

Along with grooming, Ross-Christensen also offers a wide selection of pet supplies at the business open five days a week, Tuesday to Saturday. Drawing on her hobby of sewing, supplies include her own line of dog jackets such as “army fatigue” for the more masculine dog, toys and select food items.

Manning, a three-year-old rescue mutt, who is loveable and friendly to everyone joins Ross-Christensen at the shop on a daily basis. Along with greeting customers, he enjoys testing out the new toys, and keeping his four-legged guests amused.

Ross-Christensen says there is something about dogs that keeps you in the “now” and having a business centred around that concept is great. Having pet owners that appreciate the work she does for them and their loyal companions is an added bonus.

– Darrell Nesbitt writes from Shoal Lake, Manitoba

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