Bianca Sedano never owned a dog when she applied to be a cashier at Petsmart eight years ago.
That experience led her, or how she puts it, “tricked” her into grooming dogs, and it has turned into a professional, rewarding career.
“I only had cats and fish my entire life, so it was really quite a culture shock for me,” she said. “It really made me fall in love with them.”
The 27-year-old dog groomer works out of Doggy Style Pet Shop in Wicker Park, where she shaves, washes, dries and trims the coats of six to seven dogs a day — as small as Chihuahuas or as big as Great Danes.
Sedano has developed years-long relationships with some of the dogs she grooms, which is essential for canines who need to develop that trust. The work of a dog groomer, she says, is underappreciated. She buys expensive tools and supplies for herself, and keeps a little more than half of the commission from each grooming.
“I don’t think people realize what’s involved in grooming and how much we sacrifice. We sacrifice our bodies, our wrists, our backs,” she said. “It’s hard sometimes, but we love what we do and we do it because we love the dogs.
As she carefully washed, dried and trimmed the fur of Kuma, an Old English Sheepdog, Sedano was focused and affectionate. The dog was sensitive about her paws, but licked Sedano’s face when she got close. Her long gray and white coat draped down over her eyes, but a quick trim fixed it.
“They don’t really know what’s going on, so of course they’re scared,” she said, trying to comfort Kuma.
The high point of an appointment is always when it finishes, when the dogs “go crazy,” she said.
”Because you know dogs don’t really enjoy grooming, it’s not something they look forward to, so my favorite part is when they’re happy, when they’re excited and their parents come,” she said.
Though it’s not always fun for the dog, Sedano wants more dog parents to do the research on their companions about the maintenance they require. Telling an owner they need to do more to maintain their pet is the hardest part of her job, but she says “this is a need, it’s not just for aesthetics.”