Cheryl Labbe, owner of All Breed Pet Grooming in Laurel, has been grooming cats and dogs for 25 years.
Working in a modest building off Main Street, Labbe said she has been busy sheering, shaving and bathing pets for years.
“I just got an interest in it when I was in high school,” said Labbe, who studied at the National School of Dog Grooming in Silver Spring during the 1970s. She did apprenticeships before opening her All Breed Pets.
“I always loved it,” she said. “You’re able to help [the pets].”
Still, the job can be a challenge, she said. Labbe and fellow groomer, Diana Wray, said they often have to build respect with the animals.
“You're dealing with dogs and cats with attitudes,” Labbe said. “We’ve been pooped on and clawed at.”
The economy has also had an impact on business, she said. Customers don’t come in as often as they use to. While she recommends dogs be groomed every six to eight weeks, she has been dealing with some pets who have gone so long without grooming that their fur has become tangled in dreadlocks.
“It’s like you sheered a sheep,” she said.
Labbe said she’s been able to survive despite increased competition from large stores like PetSmart by doing detailed work. She can spend as much as four hours grooming pets, including shaving, trimming, washing and drying them.
“I still do it the old-fashioned way,” she said. “We’re all about quality.”